by Stevie Wilson | For the past several decades the southeast corner of Main Street and King Edward has been home to Helen’s Grill, the familiar diner best known for its all-day, greasy spoon breakfasts and table-side jukeboxes.
But it’s much more than that. Today, Helen’s Grill stands out in the community for having remained largely unchanged since its humble beginnings in 1961. It’s sphinx-like indifference to the world of change beyond its doorstep only adds to its appeal.
The jukeboxes aren’t the only vintage item that Helen’s has to offer, either. The bones of the building itself are relatively ancient. 4102 Main Street has been home to a number of other coffee-slingin’ businesses over the years. The current brick structure appears to feature elements of the Mission Revival style, including rounded clay tile roofing, which suggests it was built sometime between 1910 and 1930. However, the corner originally featured a smaller shop (likely built circa 1910 after the Walden Block next door) and according to city records, previous occupants include a millinery, a jeweller, an oil driller, Gary’s Dairy, and a Royal Bank in 1920.
At some point over the years, the original structure was either demolished or massively remodeled to accommodate a string of new businesses (share your insights if you have any idea about the date). It was a confectionery by the late 1920s, and in 1945 the address is listed twice, as Tom Gray’s Cafe and later as Morray’s Coffee Shop. The following year it became Salsbury House, which was noted for “Fine Food” and hamburgers. And in 1948, the address was renovated to become the 7th location of the locally famous Aristocratic Restaurant chain.
Though Helen’s might not be very fancy these days, that doesn’t make her any less charming.
The GOODS from Beta5
Vancouver, BC | We are looking to bring on a Senior Pastry Cook and a Chocolatier, each with experience and a work ethic that will help them keep pace with our our hard-working team during the upcoming holiday rush. The positions are full-time and permanent. We are accepting resumes from dedicated, professionally trained pastry cooks and chocolatiers with a minimum of one year of professional industry experience, or from recent culinary school graduates who are interested in hard work and a fast-paced learning environment.
We are also looking to hire for our retail operation. We’re looking for someone is capable of sharing their excitement about food, who can recall flavour profiles and ingredients quickly, and who is experienced in fine dining, luxury retail, or hospitality. We are currently accepting resumes from candidates looking for both seasonal retail work (Nov 1 – Dec 24) and permanent full-time work. Resumes for all three positions can be sent to jess [at] beta5chocolates.com.
Six days a week, our customers flood to our little shop, hidden away in the false creek flats between Strathcona and Mount Pleasant. From cream puff super fans and dessert thrill seekers to the chocolate curious, we aim to provide our customers with knowledgeable, tailored customer service. BETA5 Chocolates is the city’s best kept secret for all things dessert. We have been named as one of the Top 10 Chocolate Shops in North America, and our chocolates have received numerous awards, including Gold at the International Chocolate Awards. Read more
The GOODS from Red Truck Beer Company
Vancouver, BC | If you live in the Lower Mainland, you’ve seen them. The iconic Red Trucks delivering the ‘Freshest Beer on Four Wheels’ to your favourite establishments. And now they’re adding a new stop to their routes – your local liquor store. Red Truck Beer Company has recently launched its line of bottles and cans so that you can enjoy their “Hand-Built” and Award Winning Classic Lager, Ale and their new offering – IPA at home.
“This is a fantastic next step for Red Truck Beer Company,” says Red Truck General Manager, Jim Dodds. “Our Classic Lager, Ale and Limited beers have proven to be consumer favourites for years and we thought it was time to let our fans enjoy them at home too. Our two recent awards from Sip Northwest Magazine’s Best of the Northwest is a testament to our brewers.”
In its third annual issue, Sip just announced Red Truck Lager has won 1st place in the “Best Lager” category and Red Truck Ute ISA won 2nd place in the Session category. “At Sip Northwest, we like to think we are advocates of local,” said Erin James, managing editor of IP Publishing, publishers of Sip Northwest. “Through this extensive and taxing process of blind tasting, we have found varying results over the past three years that give us even more producers and people to cover and celebrate in the Northwest. It’s very eye-opening to the amazing beverages being produced in our region and we hope it serves as a shopping list for our readers.”
And those aren’t the only awards Red Truck has been garnering. Earlier this year, Red Truck Ale took “Best Pale Ale “ at the Fest of Ales in Penticton, and Red Truck ’46 Porter won a Silver Medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards. Read more
by Michelle Sproule | Mushroom Season is upon us. The warm wet days of Autumn bring with them the perfect conditions for fungal growth and the little buggers are popping up everywhere right now. I tagged along with the crew from Main Street’s Acorn restaurant (chef Rob Clarke, sous chef Brian Luptak, kitchen staffers Heather Dosman, Matt Gostelow, Peter Warszycki, Dylan Williams, and owner Shira Blustein, plus Jared Blustein and Christina Paradun from the FOH) as they followed professional mushroom forager Alexander McNaughton on a recent hunt/hike through the North Shore mountains.
Being familiar with the area and knowing likely hiding places, Alexander marched us through some serious terrain to uncover yellow chanterelles, puff balls, angel wings, and cauliflower shrooms. It was an arduous and rewarding adventure, but it should be remembered that going off-trail and eating mushrooms without proper identification are both very dangerous activities. Don’t fuck around. Be a pro or go with a pro.
Back at the restaurant, the kitchen crew crafted a rich and beautifully balanced foraged mushroom tart with sorel emulsion, goat’s cheese, watercress, cured egg yolk, and reindeer lichen — amazing. If you’re stoked on mushrooms but not interested in the bushwhacking, Acorn has a bunch of tasty shroom dishes on their menu this week. Starting Saturday there will be Hen of the Woods mushroom pasta with sunchoke purée, pickled shallots, and pepper hazelnuts as well as a vegan portobello and walnut pate with preserved lemon gel, pickled walnuts and caraway taro crisps. Take a look…
The GOODS from The Biltmore Cabaret
Vancouver, BC | Introducing Guilty Pleasures at the Biltmore Cabaret – a new monthly party packing all the retro chart toppers and forgotten gems from the 80s, 90s, and Y2Ks into one night. The special launch party on Thursday, October 9th features guest DJs Hannah Georgas, Darcy Hancock (of Vancouver indie favourites Ladyhawk), Jeff Inness (of High Ends/ Yukon Blonde), Adam Fink (Gang Signs), and the notorious Gal Pal DJs (of F.R.I.E.N.D.S). Cover is free to 10pm, or post the song you’ve got to hear for guest-list for you and a friend all night long. RSVP on Facebook for more info, and email rsvp [at] biltmorecabaret.com for large group requests. Read more
by Andrew Morrison | According to a poll that’s been running on our Gastown and Commercial Drive pages (included below), Scout readers are currently tipping Campagnolo Upstairs‘ so-called “Dirty Burger” as the best burger in the city; that is to say better than the celebrated ones available at Hawksworth, Pourhouse, Cannibal Cafe, The Oakwood, and Mamie Taylor’s. It has actually garnered 25% of all votes at the time of writing, so it’s clear that they’re doing something right.
But what, exactly?
It starts with an irregularly-shaped, housemade scotch bap bun. It’s a butt-ugly thing. There are no sesame seeds or buttery topside sheen, and it looks like it’s been splayed open by palsied chimp armed only with a rusty can opener. And yet, griddled as it is with a sexy lard/butter combination (its evenly crisped nethers then seasoned with salt and pepper), it’s enough to make any British fried bread fetishist blush. And lathered with an impactfully sweet-salty house sauce (secret) and stacked with crisp iceberg lettuce, two tomato slices from Kelowna’s Stoney Paradise farms, and whisper thin coins of housemade pickles, no one will ever care that beauty was a test the bun never thought to take.
The patty is equally unprepossessing. Vaguely circular, it appears to have landed on the bun having been dropped from an enormous height. It’s also downright puny at a mere 4oz, but size considerations are a fool’s quibble; it’s the quality that counts, and in this case it’s wholly indisputable. The patties are made from 40 day dry-aged prime beef neck that’s seam butchered and ground fresh every day. And the buck stops with owner/chef Robert Belcham, who is to meat what Rob Clark is to fish, which is to say oddly – though professionally – preoccupied. I don’t think Belcham could make a bad burger if he tried.
Each visually unassuming, misshapen, diamond-in-the-rough patty is fried to order on high heat in a cast iron pan laced with lard. Diced onions are smashed into the disc as it sizzles and browns on one side, and then blanketed with bright American cheese after it’s flipped to the other side. Its orange glisten mesmerizes.
There’s also a secret menu of add-ons to the burger, but I’ve been asked not to publish these. “You can always bribe the bartender to find out what they are,” Belcham chirps.
Altogether, the thing is entirely manageable in the hand; the bun and the sauce get along well enough to postpone disintegration, and the flavours and textures of the fixings meld with the superbly delicious taste of the cheese-draped meat. I like to think of it as the Willem Dafoe of burgers. It might be a little creepy looking and small, but man…is it ever talented (and it was something of a petty crime that his dope-smoking, morally-centred Sgt. Elias in Platoon lost the Best Supporting Actor nod to Michael Caine at the Academy Awards in 1986. I mean, Hannah & Her Sisters? WTF…)
Give it a try yourself, but be sure to go early. There is a high demand for the thing among those who are aware of it, and a frustratingly meagre supply (maybe 20 a night). Indeed, the only truly dirty thing about the Dirty Burger is that you might arrive to find that there are none to be had. It’s happened to me before, and it’s an awful thing indeed.
1020 Main St. (door on the right) | Vancouver, BC | 604-484-6018 | 6pm-late, Mon-Sat
The GOODS from Beta5
Vancouver, BC | To celebrate our third birthday this Saturday, Oct. 4th, we’re serving up a smorgasbord of birthday-themed treats, including chocolate birthday candles filled with a Tahitian vanilla bean ganache, chocolate-peanut butter balloon lollipops, devil’s food cake chocolate bars, and slices of our cream puff birthday cake between 10am and 5pm. We’re also welcoming back our line of desserts to-go (fine-dining desserts elegantly assembled into glass jars); plus we’re introducing three new cream puff flavours.
If the menu has you drooling, then perhaps our giveaways might just send you into a sweet-treat coma. We’ve got loot bags for the first 50 customers, we’re giving away three 3-month Chocolate Union memberships*, and there are 10 golden chocolate bars hidden amongst our stock of devil’s food cake bars. The lucky individuals who purchase the hidden golden bars will win tasty BETA5 prizes.
Check out our #beta5birthday hashtag on Instagram and Twitter (@beta5chocolates) to take a peek behind the scenes as we work like crazy to handcraft our birthday menu. On the big day, our customers can use our selfie station and the #beta5chocolates hashtag to tag their own photos from our birthday bash for a chance to win a 3-month Chocolate Union membership. It’s an old-fashioned birthday party with a social media twist. Read more
The GOODS from Burdock & Co.
Vancouver, BC | Burdock & Co. on Main Street is looking for a sous chef. The restaurant serves refined dishes crafted from organic ingredients. Chef Andrea Carlson’s relationship with local suppliers ensures that only the best arrives at the table, whether sourced from one of Vancouver’s nearby farms or a downtown urban garden. Please send resumes in confidence to andrea [at] burdockandco.com. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from The Acorn
Vancouver, BC | R&B Brewing head brewer Todd Graham collaborated with 5 of Vancouver’s most celebrated chefs to produce the Chef Series. The line of 650ml limited edition bottled beers are designed to pair with food. Participating chefs were asked to choose a beer style and unique ingredients that they personally connect to. The result? Five incredibly diverse beers that reveal a little bit about each chef and pair perfectly with some of their favourite dishes.
The Acorn’s Spruce Tip Ale (the 2nd beer in the series) was inspired by Chef Brian Skinner. It’s made with locally foraged spruce tips and pairs with the restaurant’s cauliflower croquettes served with juniper aioli, which launches on the menu this week.
To celebrate, brewer Todd Graham will be playing a vinyl only set with local musician/artist extraordinaire Penny Buchner (Slow Learners). Join us tonight, between 10pm-1am Thursday September 25th, for $4 pints and croquettes, $6 cocktails, and great music! Read more
The GOODS from Campagnolo
Vancouver, BC | Now a highly anticipated annual event, Campagnolo’s Cerelia celebrates the season end of the Main St. Station Farmers Market. Each year as the leaves start to change colour, the air begins to cool and the produce at the local farmers markets shift from summer to autumn varieties, Chef Nathan Lowey plans his menu for this epic feast. This Italian celebration of harvest will be held on Wednesday, October 1 at 7:00PM. Guests are invited to gather around communal tables and welcome fall by breaking bread with old and new friends.
Late season produce will be celebrated and sourced day of from the Main St. Station Farmers Market and a variety of artisanal purveyors in which Chef de Cuisine Nathan Lowey has built a long standing relationship. Local farms may include Sapo Bravo Organics, Stoney Paradise Farm, Glorious Organics, UBC Farms, Sole Food Street Farms, Crisp Organics, Cropthorne Farm and Icecap Organics. Tickets are $79 plus Eventbrite Service Charge (tax, gratuity and wine are included).
Dinner will be served family-style and paired with wines from local producers La Frenz and Stable Door Cellars including: Stable Door Cellars Riesling, La Frenz Viognier and La Frenz Pinot Noir. Get the full menu and all the important details after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from The Fish Counter
Vancouver, BC | Join the Slow Food / Slow Fish movement and eight mystery chefs on Saturday, September 27th at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, just off Granville Island, for a Slow Fish Mystery Dinner. Start your evening with canapés and libations, and then move though the school’s eight professional teaching kitchens to meet mystery chefs, visiting from BC and beyond, who will each offer a tasting-sized portion of sustainable and lesser-known local seafood delicacies for you to try.
Chefs’ Table Society member, Slow Fish member, and Fish Counter co-owner/chef Robert Clark has been evangelizing sustainability in seafood since 1998 and is spearheading this event along with Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts executive chef, and Chefs’ Table Society member Julian Bond. At its heart the event is intended to raise awareness for Slow Fish and its role in protecting our oceans. The Chefs’ Table Society has a mandate to support BC producers and sustainable food production, and is happy to present this event.
Tickets are available here for $79 +fees, and include the reception, samples and beverages, and the chance to interact with eight acclaimed chefs, who will only be revealed to you once you are there. There are only 100 tickets for sale, so seafood lovers are advised to act now and not miss what is sure to be an exciting and delicious affair. Read more
The GOODS from The Biltmore Cabaret
Vancouver, BC | The Kopecky Family Band isn’t a family in the traditional sense – rather than being bound by blood and heritage, this band of six young musicians is connected by circumstance, miles on the odometer, and the songs they have crafted over the years. It is the Kopecky Family Band’s music that has brought them widespread attention and critical acclaim – the New York Times giving the recommendation that “If You Like Fleetwood Mac, Try the Kopecky Family Band”. (This is a great reminder to both check out KFB and give Rumours a spin on the turntable tonight).
Original founding member Kelsey Kopecky is also bringing something non-traditional on tour with the band – her love of yoga. Vancouver has (of course) been selected as a city to be a part of “Yopecky,” Kelsey’s pre-show, mixed level vinyasa yoga class! Just bring a mat and a spirit of adventure for some heart opening and movement. Kopecky Family Band and guest Avid Dancer play the Biltmore Cabaret Friday September 26 – advance tickets available online, at Red Cat, Zulu Records & the Biltmore. Learn more about the Biltmore after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from The Acorn
Vancouver, BC | The award-winning Acorn Restaurant is hiring for two full-time positions — Sous Chef and Chef de Partie. For the Sous Chef position we are looking for an individual with the drive to advance into a Chef de Cuisine role. Formal culinary training and fine dining experience are essential. If you are passionate about food, hungry to learn more about vegetable-based cuisine, and a naturally collaborative leader, please forward your resume to shira [at] theacornrestaurant.ca.
For the Chef de Partie position we are looking for a candidate who is dedicated to their craft and keen to learn more about cooking with vegetables. Formal culinary training and fine dining experience is an asset, but not essential. Depending on the position, working hours will range from 2pm-2am with the successful candidate working 5 days a week. Training for both positions can begin right away.
Being a small independent restaurant, we pride ourselves on having a collaborative, team-driven environment and you will need to share this philosophy. The Acorn provides excellent opportunity for growth and development. Please email your Resume, and a few words about how you can contribute to our amazing team. Read more
The GOODS from The Acorn
Vancouver, BC | The Acorn Artist Series shines a light on artists in Vancouver whose work we admire greatly and wish to proliferate in our own humble way. Each month we make a new artist postcard that gets handed out to our guests who are free to frame it, mail it, or fold it into an airplane and surprise their neighbour. This month, we’re featuring Elizabeth Zvonar. In her dreams, her website has had over 1 million views. True story: rich and famous people have told her that they should have bought her work after they had already purchased another artist’s work. She also knows high people in places. A quick Q & A with her (and more) after the jump… Read more