by David Greig | Aperol is an Italian aperitif, created in Padua in 1919 by the Barbieri company. Bright orange in colour, it is flavoured with bitter oranges, gentian, rhubarb and other naturals. It’s produced nowadays by Campari, and bears a striking similarity to it, although it weighs in at a positively wine-like 11%, making it a distinctly lighter alternative.
What is it, really? Relatively new to BC, the sultry little minx of a liqueur is a perfect way to move the fruit-loving masses gently toward bitter flavours. It has two popular descriptions: “Baby Campari”, and or my personal favourite, “Campari’s younger, hotter sister.” It is the Pippa Middleton of every back bar, straddling two worlds with ease – those of the Fun, Simple Drink and the Dreaded, Serious Bartender – and keeping everyone happy in the process.
What to make with it? An Aperol Spritz (pictured above)
Splash of club soda
Build over ice
Garnish with orange slice
United Kingdom import David Greig is the Cocktail Editor at Scout Magazine. He can usually be found working the wood and well at Gastown’s popular L’Abattoir restaurant when he’s not typing at home or sipping his way around town.
Job Posting from Scout supporter L’Abattoir
Vancouver, BC | L’Abattoir is seeking a motivated Chef de Partie/Line Cook. The successful candidate will be a self motivated, driven individual who committed to ongoing learning and personal growth as a cook. Minimum 2 years experience is required for this position. Please apply in confidence to info [at] labattoir [dot ca]. Details about the restaurant after the jump… Read more
News from Scout supporter L’Abattoir
Vancouver, BC | Diners looking to satiate themselves in gourmet style this New Year’s Eve need not look further than Gastown’s hottest new restaurant, L’Abattoir. Chef Lee Cooper and his team will be ringing in 2011 with a five-course menu priced at $75 per person, while Shaun Layton and wine aficionado Jake Skakun will be pouring custom cocktails and boutique wines throughout the evening. Whether guests are looking for an elegant evening of food, friends and great music, or some pre-party sustenance that will keep them dancing late into the night, L’Abattoir will certainly satisfy. Full menu and details below. Read more
Job Posting from Scout supporter L’Abattoir
Vancouver, BC | Gastown’s L’Abattoir restaurant is seeking a part-time host/hostess for 1-3 shifts a week, daytime and evenings. Experience required. Email resume to email@example.com or hand deliver Tues-Saturday between 4pm and 5pm. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump…(THIS POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED) Read more
News from Scout supporter L’Abattoir
Vancouver, BC | Gastown hotspot L’Abattoir will begin taking dinner reservations just in time for the busy holiday season. Fans of Chef Lee Cooper’s innovative West Coast fare will now be able to secure tables via labattoir.ca, or by phoning the restaurant directly at (604) 568-1701.
“We strive to offer our guests an exceptional experience every time they dine with us,” says owner Paul Grunberg. “By implementing a reservations system just in time for one of the busiest calendar months of the year, we’ll be able to ensure guests are afforded every opportunity and convenience to join us, both over the holidays and in the months to come.” Read more
by Andrew Morrison | Tonight’s my last shift working the pass at Gastown’s L’Abattoir. A big thank you to all the staff for tolerating my presence in their midst, and to owners Nin Ari, Paul Grunberg, and Lee Cooper for allowing me the opportunity to play witness to the opening of their superlative restaurant. I’ll miss my brothers in arms, Dylan and Joe (and all the bacon brioche that we sneak at the end of the night), and the excitement that comes when the room is packed and the pass is full of dupes. I might even miss polishing 1000 pieces of cutlery a night (probably not). For certain, pulling 150+ covers in a 70 seat room made for a fun, hectic ride. I’d never before worked with so solid a crew, both front and back. From orientation and training to opening night and every shift since, it was a pleasure and a privilege that I won’t soon forget. Thank you.
Some of the insights gleaned during my stint will be in Vancouver magazine’s November issue (in a wide-ranging story on the exploding dining scenes of Gastown and the DTES), but you’ll be able to read more about my L’Abattoir days in a story on the current state of restaurant service in our city that is coming out in the March 2011 issue (I think) of the same magazine. I’ll be working at West next (shadowing the legendary Brian Hopkins), and maybe on the floor at one other restaurant (not sure which just yet). But that’s all beside the point. I clock in for my final shift in two hours. Come in, say hello, and try the beet soup with meatballs, dill, and horseradish creme fraiche. It’ll blow your freakin’ head off.
Here are just a few of the tasty memories I’ll be taking with me… Read more
I was on the Urban Rush television show again today and hosts Michael Eckford and Fiona Forbes were ribbing me about working two nights a week as an expediter at Gastown’s L’Abattoir (if you didn’t already know, I’m there researching for a Vancouver magazine story on restaurant service that is due this Spring – please be sure to say ‘hi’ if you come in). Anyway, I didn’t take offense. They were just kidding around.
Still, having invested a bucket of my own sweat in the place since opening night nearly two months ago, I’ve grown quite proud of the restaurant, especially the people who work there. So when I heard that both my colleagues at the Globe & Mail and the Vancouver Sun had come in for reviews while I was off traveling, indulging in my real job (the same as theirs), I couldn’t help but feel nervous. What if it’s bad? What if it’s fucking terrible? Oh my God, I thought. We’re going to get anally raped and crucified.
Since many of you aren’t restaurant wonks (please don’t change), let me tell you about Alexandra Gill, Vancouver’s food critic for the Globe & Mail. Of the five or six paid restaurant reviewers in town, she is by far the most feared. I’d put the number of people in the local trade who like her column at about 17 out of 40,000, and I’d wager that 10 of those are either drug addicts, liars or probably both. But they all read her.
She might pen a dud every few months (most weekly critics do), but damn it if there isn’t always an entertaining flick of the knife, a slash that leaves a mark. When she really sinks her teeth into a restaurant’s jugular, it’s the ultimate schadenfreude sundae. Even when I love the restaurant that is being torched, it’s as mesmerising as watching a cheetah take down a Thompson gazelle in slow motion. First comes the run and then the turn. Once you see the claw hitting the ankle and restaurant’s center of gravity falter, it’s all blood and dust from there. I imagine she’s exhausted after writing her best. Panting. Too spent to eat. And at the end of every read I don’t know whether to burn the paper or keep it in order to study how she does it.
While she doesn’t have the power to break a restaurant, she sure can make the people who work in them angry. She’s even made me angry at times, but only when I think she’s gone too far. For a few years – when I had a hotter head – I wasn’t all that kind to her. Why? Because – gasp – she spoke her mind, kept her own counsel and could give a damn about what anyone thought of her. I’ve written wholly reactionary words about her over the last five years, none of them nice. To be honest, I’m quite sure that some of them were downright awful.
So when Paul Grunberg, L’Abattoir’s owner, told me that she was writing the review, my sphincter involuntarily tightened. I felt the fear, the very same that most chefs and restaurateurs might feel whenever she calls to “follow up with a few questions”, only it was amplified, like ten-fold. I very quickly convinced myself that, despite the obvious merits of the restaurant (which she would ignore), she was going to take every backhanded thing I’d ever written about her and use this golden, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to slam it all back in my dumb, smug face. Yes, and with a big fuck you and a steaming turd on top. I was a liability to the restaurant, a walking time bomb. And she was holding the detonator. How could I have ever been so plum stupid to have set the hard-working people of L’Abattoir up for this? What a total asshole.
But she’s the pro and I’m the child, given to wild delusions fed by my sometimes Herculean sense of self-importance. Of course she loved it. She wrote almost the exact same review I would have done if I wasn’t polishing the restaurant’s glassware and trying not to get in anyone’s way. She probably had no idea I was working there. She could probably give a fuck, really.
Mia Stainsby’s review comes out late tonight in Sun. Naturally, I’m convinced that it will be hand delivered by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, that it will be terrible, and that it’s somehow all my fault.
Scout supporter L’Abattoir Restaurant in Gastown is seeking a reliable, motivated chef de partie immediately. Please reply by email in confidence to firstname.lastname@example.org with a resume detailing no less than 2-3 years experience. We look forward to hearing from you.
Those were a fun first few days at L’Abattoir in Gastown. With the kitchen in calibration mode to perfect their timing, the pace was calculated so as to guarantee necks above water until close. The door was managed really well, and the action was all very smooth from my vantage point on the pass (the busy communications and exchange station in the kitchen where the plates are finished by the chef and then distributed to the staff). Almost as many customers were turned away as were seated on opening night, which is, I think, a jolly good harbinger of things to come.
From valet parking needs to service protocols, some interesting dynamics are already emerging, the most fascinating of them being those generated by the neighbourhood itself. As I’m sure most of you are aware, Gastown enjoys a late crowd these days, especially on weekends, and since the kitchen only stays open until 10:30pm, it’s Shaun and David at the bar who are receiving the wave of latecomers. As we are busily shutting down (polishing silver and stemware), they get pretty well slammed with folks keen to take a peek, wish them well and get their drink on. They’re both solid pros, however, dudes long accustomed to high volume. Most of my experience has been at slightly more formal restaurants that don’t attract a crowd seeking Negronis and Manhattans, so it’s weird to be finished with food service and then confronted with a crush of bodies at the bar. It’s pretty awesome. Read more
As regular readers might remember, I’m writing a feature for Vancouver Magazine on table service in the city and how it’s been evolving with our restaurant scene. To gain some insight, I’m putting the old apron back on (God help you all) and getting back to work. I’ll be at South Granville’s storied West Restaurant for a night later this summer, but right now I’m concentrating on the opening of L’Abattoir in Gastown (I’ve been invited to clock in at Deacon’s Corner, too, and I hope to be able to make that happen, too).
So far it’s been a lot of fun. We did cocktail and wine training yesterday and talked a little about service philosophy and the different protocols associated with each (table settings, approach, et cetera). It’s been fascinating to watch them try and create their own style to suit their vision for the restaurant. I’m really very psyched about the whole “embedded” experience, though not a little freaked that I might drop something. In a few hours we start the final menu tasting, followed by a proper dry run of friends and family. The opening to the public, if all goes well, should be a ‘go’ for Friday (knock on wood). Lots of photos of the room and our training sessions after the jump. Read more
I’ve started researching for a couple of features for Vancouver magazine this week. One of them is on restaurant service across the city, which as I’m sure you’re aware can range from the outright deplorable to the superbly air tight. I’m taking it as an opportunity to work shifts at three different establishments that will hopefully reveal to readers some of the different kinds of styles and philosophies represented in the more fascinating coves of our restaurant scene. One of these will be the soon-to-open L’Abattoir in Gastown.
It’s my hope that participating in service through the prism of a hotly anticipated restaurant opening will prove of interest on several levels, not least because the exhilarating systems check that is opening night is something that only happens once in a restaurant’s lifetime. It’s then that you discover what works and what doesn’t, and when experience steps in to calibrate.
Staff orientation began yesterday, with the fourteen member front of house crew (several familiar faces) in their civvies listening to co-owner/chef Lee Cooper going over the menu, wine guy Jake Skakun explaining the list, and bar manager Shaun Layton (interview) presenting his cocktail list in a room that was still very much under construction (see pics below).
Though I wasn’t umbilically attached like the other staff, I was still a little nervous. It had been about 10 years since I’d done any sort of orientation in a restaurant, and nearly four since I hung up my apron and started writing full time. I’d like to think floor work is “old hat” or like shoes I can just slip back on whenever the fancy strikes, but the butterflies suggested very much otherwise. Good times… Read more
We sat down with recently anointed Bartender of the Year Shaun Layton yesterday for a long delayed interview and were surprised to learn that he’d just given his notice at George Ultra Lounge in Yaletown after two and a half years of solid service there. Read more
A new Gastown restaurant is under construction in the original Irish Heather location at 217 Carrall. Demolition began yesterday. It’s called L’Abattoir, a name chosen to speak to the space’s proximity to Blood Alley (‘slaughterhouse’ in French is so much sexier).
Such a moniker might weird some people out, but if Judas Goat can pull off a name that sounds like a Norwegian death metal band’s sophomore album, L’Abattoir’s a total go. I’ve been assured that there will be no carcasses hanging from the ceiling, and blood splattering is not a motif currently being entertained by the designer.
The front of house will be the realm of co-owner Paul Grunberg, former GM at Chambar and Market (most recently he’s been moonlighting at Bao Bei), and the back of house is in the hands of co-owner/chef Lee Cooper. Applying his business acumen to the project is Nin Rai. He went to Malaspina with Cooper, and owns Truffles Fine Foods with chef David Lee. A young, hungry group.
Grunberg is a known entity to me (and you, if you get out much). I’ve seen what he’s done, loved where he’s done it at, and recognise him as one of the city’s top drawer managers. Though this may be his first swing of the independence bat, I don’t doubt his abilities one bit, especially since he’s personally invested.
Cooper is a total mystery to me, and that’s what excites me the most. The 31 year old seems like a really nice guy – the nephew of none other than Okanagan pioneer Bernard Casavant (was Burrowing Owl, now Manteo). He’s made the right moves staging; training at some big guns (London’s Tom Aitkens, Maze, and most recently at Napa’s Ubuntu); and was once upon a time a chef de partie at the storied Fat Duck. Closer to home, he did a stint under Michael Allemeier (interview) at Mission Hill, moving on to sous chef positions at Scott Jaeger’s award-winning Pear Tree and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Market in the Shangri-La Hotel. Though I’ve never eaten a morsel from the man, having read that back I sure as hell want to.
The approach he’s taking to the food seems straightforward. Though they don’t want to be pigeon-holed, from what I gather it’ll be affordable, modern French with bouts of rustic classicism and plenty of attention being paid to details. They won’t be afraid to take chances, Grunberg told me, but they’ll do so with confidence. Sounds plenty like Boneta up the street, which is a very good thing as there are plenty of beery, jolly joints in Gastown, and only the one swipe at excellence. An extra dash of the stuff wouldn’t hurt, and Lord knows Boneta could use the company. Read more
Open 7 evenings a week, 5:30pm to 10:00pm
Kitchen closes at 10pm | Bar service until midnight
Paul Grunberg | General Manager
Lee Cooper | Chef
Romano Castillo | Restaurant Manager
Robert Herman | Sommelier
Shaun Layton | Head Barman
Megan Burton-Brown | Reservations and Events Manager
L’Abattoir is located in the center of Gastown between historic Gaoler’s Mews and Blood Alley. The restaurant was built in the 19th century and is the site of Vancouver’s first jail. Originally buttressed to the city’s main butchery and meat packing district, the name L’Abattoir pays homage to the neighbourhood’s colourful past.
Set in a refurbished brick and beam building that combines classic French tile work with industrial fixtures, natural wood, and glass and steel finishes, the restaurant offers a bar and lounge setting, elevated dining room and plush, sun soaked atrium.
Chef Lee Cooper and General Manager Paul Grunberg are dedicated to highlighting the finer points of eating and drinking in L’Abattoir’s informed but informal setting. French-influenced West Coast fare is paired with Sommelier Jake Skakun’s eclectic wine program and Head Barman Shaun Layton’s innovative cocktail list to offer a truly unique dining experience.
“Fresh market-driven flavours, innovative fare, handsome rooms, winsome cocktails and wine list – who could ask for more?” | Alexandra Gill, The Globe & Mail
“L’Abattoir, I gotta say, nails it. I got very excited over the food.” | Mia Stainsby,