by Sean Orr | Demolition near for 122-year-old building in Vancouver’s old Japantown. Which is a shame, but then if someone was to restore it, and say, put in a restaurant, that would be waaaay worse, right? Sigh. Maybe they should have put a freeway through there when they had the chance.
Interesting thing about Vancouver. Each year, CBC holds a fundraiser for foodbanks. And every year a group comes to protest that fundraiser.
— Matthew Lazin-Ryder (@Lazin_Ryder) December 6, 2013
While it may seem like they would be toting Randian placards with Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous declaration against charity, these people are actually on the opposite side of the political spectrum. I mean, I get it, charity serves to reinforce the inequalities inherent in the system, but that is the system we have. What is their end? Starvation in the name of ideological purity? Bah! Humbug.
Why would a tabloid newspaper want to beat up on Vision Vancouver? I dunno, maybe because they didn’t get invited to this swanky do. “It’s pretty clear to me that some Province editors get a rush of natural opiates in their brain every time they get a chance to kick the shit out of Vision Vancouver”. Could it be that they are just old and out-of-touch white farts?
Speaking of which: ‘White powder scare’ at the Fraser Institute. I didn’t do it, I swear. Like…don’t even joke about that.
Desecration of Indian memorial outrages Lower Mainland’s South Asian community. I think it’s safe to say that this outrages the entire Lower Mainland.
IPA took my baby away: Brian Hutchinson: Surrey better hope the $20M ‘masterpiece brewery’ it just built for a private company doesn’t go bust. Or as my frenemy Nicholas Ellan says, “Surrey even does neoliberalism better than Vancouver”. Maybe, but neoliberalism never tasted so good.
Drilled: B. C. can look to Alberta for environmental safeguards. Upon closer inspection, this letter in the Vancouver Sun was written by the CEO of a drilling company. Thanks to QI Vancouver for that one…
— QI Vancouver (@QIVancouver) December 5, 2013
Smoke ‘em out: Marijuana fortress sprouts up along Vancouver Island highway. “The grey building is surrounded by security fencing and has an unwelcoming air about it”. Yeah, I’m sure they might have had a few problems if they’d put a huge neon “welcome” sign on it.
Bonus: We saw an owl on the way to The Electric Owl.
The GOODS from Chambar
Vancouver, BC | Chambar Restaurant is looking to hire an experienced Pastry Chef and a full-time line cook with a minimum of 3 years of experience in a high volume, fast-paced kitchen. The candidates must have a strong work ethic and be detail-oriented with fine dining plating skills. Wage competitive. Please email resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org. No phone calls please. Read more
by Andrew Morrison | If I had not only a guarantee that dinosaurs were genuinely tame but also solid assurances that their breeding was being strictly controlled by heavily-armed paleo-geneticists, I’d be totally OK about having them back to roam in very small numbers.
I feel the same way about steakhouses. The adoration I had for them as a wide-eyed child of limited tastes has insured a residue of affection still powerful enough to bring me back to them at least once a year. And the more traditional they are, the better. I’ll have none of this Pinky’s “Steakhouse for Girls” or Black & Blue discotheque nonsense, thank you very much. I want a 75 year old server named Frank calmly maintaining my table with an economy of words and actions. I also want to bask in the moody darkness. Not the dumb Donnelly style of darkness seemingly designed to shield our senses from seething ugliness, but rather the type on that rare ethereal plane wherein the act of dining amplifies the scant light provided by candles and the occasional wall sconce. Its faint flame is nearly doused by the dark wood panelling but it still dances off the white jackets of the staff, flickers on the linen, and makes the odd bit of brass piping shine like gold. Such a light also lingers on the serrated blades of over-sized steak knives, bathes in the bowls of big Bordeaux wine glasses that need to be washed by hand on account of their vast brittleness, and takes the creepiness out of the ancient oil portraits staring back at you from the walls. Light is a key facet of the old school steakhouse atmosphere, anchoring the experience even more than the sound-deadening carpet or the refreshing absence of hats.
There are only two exemplars of such light in Vancouver, Hy’s Encore and Gotham Steakhouse. I’ve just eaten at both on back to back evenings. I regret that I didn’t take a camera or a notebook to Gotham, preferring instead to dine like a regular human being (just this once). The steaks were first rate – blackened Chicago filets and strips with crab legs and prawns – and the service was superb, but for the purposes of this story I’m only going to relate how things went at Hy’s Encore.
Hy’s, as you know, has been on Hornby St. since the early Cretaceous. Believe it or not, the decor has actually been “updated” from the Arthur Fishman-designed original (1960′s), but it’s as I’ve always remembered it: dark, deathly quiet, and frequented by corporate Ron Swanson types and old codgers wealthy enough to afford especially sharp dental work. The room’s baronial pretension doesn’t feel the least bit Vancouver-y, and I like that. It’s an absolute escape, like something out of Jules Verne. There’s no stylish bartender holding court with plaid pomp and twirled moustache, no ubiquitous soundtrack or desperately obsequious two minute “quality check” that makes you want to throw a punch (“How are the flavours tonight?” Pow!). It’s just ordered effortlessness, the sort of pampering that has mostly gone out of this world, or at least this city.
The food, as you can well imagine, hasn’t changed that much since I was a child. The Caesar salads and Bananas Foster are still made flawlessly a la minute and tableside [6, 3]. All of the ancient standards are there, everything from $17.95 Are You Kidding Me non-spot prawn cocktails  and slightly rubbery, garlic-wombed escargot  to French Onion soup and boozy Mussels Normandy. They even offer 1,000 Island salad dressing! The steaks are still perfect, only now they are even more exorbitantly expensive. My favourite remains the “house special” Gorgonzola Filet, an 8 ouncer done medium rare (I’m a lightweight, I know) topped with a melted knob of hot, fabulously stinky cheese. I always choose the double-stuffed potato as my starch. The distance between it and say, mashed potatoes is similar to the distance between a piece of red liquorice and a whole Black Forest cake. To wit, the kitchen scoops out the innards of a baked potato and then blends the hot stuff with butter and cream before piping it back into the jacket and topping it with sour cream, bacon, and chives. The combo sets you back $44.95, but did I mention the bread! My god, the bread…
I don’t think the kitchen gives a shallot about molecular gastronomy, craft beer, or charcuterie, let alone “local” and “sustainable” sourcing. Sourcing here is a matter of the back end of trucks and clipboards, not relationships with farmers or artisan suppliers. There is no team of whistling foragers combing the woods for mushrooms, and instead of a rooftop herb garden there is a castle parapet from which, one presumes, the staff are tasked with defending the building if ever there comes a rabid horde of abusive vegans.
And please let that be fine for once or twice a year, because steakhouses are woefully endangered. Granted, not all of them need to survive. Just a few, if you please. No one gave a damn when the graveyard-like West Cordova location of Morton’s closed in 2009. Likewise the stillborn Pinky’s chainlet, which just plain sucked hard until it went away. But if Hy’s were ever to fall, there would be no small amount of weeping, for that would be the end of the dinosaurs, and there would be no resurrections.
Hy’s Encore | 637 Hornby Street | Vancouver, BC | 604683-7671 | www.hyssteakhouse.com
The GOODS from Hawksworth
Vancouver, BC | A decade spent in England – working at top restaurants such as Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and visiting pubs in his downtime – might have influenced Chef David Hawksworth’s culinary career but it was his childhood memories of a family roast dinner that have driven the newest addition to Hawksworth Restaurant’s Sunday menu, launching this weekend.
Roast dinners are a quintessentially British weekend pastime and Chef Hawksworth’s fond recollection of Sundays spent relaxing with his parents, originally from Yorkshire in the north of England, resulted in the nostalgic addition of a roast dinner to the menu.
Hawksworth Restaurant will be launching a weekly roast feature to the brunch menu, starting this Sunday (December 8th) with a juicy Kurobata rack of pork accompanied by pancetta spiced brussel sprouts, roast potato, cranberry, pork jus for $34.
With a similar climate to the UK, winters in Vancouver are the perfect time to indulge in a comforting roast – finishing off a perfect Sunday of a walk around Stanley Park or stroll along the sea wall. Read more
The GOODS from Much & Little
Vancouver, BC | Much & Little is chock-a-block with great stock at the moment, like the six items pictured above. They are clockwise from top: locally made knitwear $45-$95 and leather mittens $120; Japanese kitchen tools – bottle openers $32.95; and copper graters $46.95; Embroidered linen tipis $45 – $62; Mason jar cocktail shaker $36 and cocktail recipe book $28.95; Locally designed, Canadian made Sleep Shirt ($195 -$210); and Pigeon Toe ceramics $39.95 to $135. Learn more after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from The Modern Bartender
After a successful pop up operation in both Edmonton and Calgary at the end of the summer, Victoria has called on “The Modern Bartender” to be on the move yet again. Shawn Soole from “Little Jumbo” has asked us to set up shop Monday December 9 starting at 4pm and we’re in!
We’ll be taking all manner of barwares and essentials such as a bevy of classic mixing vessels, japanese import bar spoons, piles of jiggers, muddlers, strainers and of course other must haves from our huge selection of books, ice trays and sphere makers, Tiki mugs, assorted syrups and more bitters than you can possibly imagine. Come visit The Modern Bartender at the Little Jumbo in Victoria at 506 Fort Street on Monday December 9 starting at 4pm. Read more
The GOODS from The STABLE HOUSE
Vancouver, BC | The Stable House Bistro in South Granville is opening this Friday evening at 5pm (service until 11pm). A reference to the turn of the century stable houses that used to dominate the neighbourhood, this intimate 40 person room is tucked away just off the main shopping strip at 1520 West 13th Avenue. The bistro offers charcuterie, cheeses, breads, salads and European-style savoury tarts – all of which can be paired with options from a great wine list and a selection of beers, cocktails, and aperitifs. The bistro will also be open for lunch in the near future, so please like our Facebook page to stay up to date.
Our friends over at The Found & The Freed are pairing up with vintage clothing store Hey Jude for a holiday season pop-up of curated antiques and sweet duds at 3088 Main Street. The collaborative awesomeness starts December 7th and runs everyday through to December 21st from 11am to 7pm.
The GOODS from Nicli Antica Pizzeria
Vancouver, BC | No one appreciates a good party more than the Italians and La Festa di San Silvestro, New Year’s Eve to everyone else, is one of their favourite celebrations. As with most Italian ‘Festas’ this one centres on a well-laden table filled with symbolic foods – pork (abundance), lentils/grains (prosperity) and grapes (wisdom) to name a few. This year, consider ringing in the New Year Italian-style at Nicli Antica Pizzeria. Chef Dave Tozer has designed soul an stomach-sating 6 course dinner that pays homage to traditions while updating them for New World palates. Dinner is priced at $75 per person and includes a celebratory Prosecco Cocktail, taxes and gratuity. Details and menu after the jump… Read more
Local dreamers Stewart Burgess and Julien Thomas have launched a campaign to have a public “parklet” inserted into the two parking spaces in front of the lovely Prado Cafe at 1938 Commercial Drive. The plan sees artist Jordan Bent creating an art piece for the parklet’s planter boxes (to be laser etched by Derek Gaw of the Laser Cutter Cafe) with the steel fabrication done by BCIT Ironwork students. The project has received $5000 in funding from Prado’s owner (yay, Sammy Piccolo!), $1000 from the Awesome Foundation, and a Parks Board Grant. They’re currently looking to raise the difference, some $3,500, via Kickstarter. If everything comes together like gravy, we can expect to see it open to the public this March.
The GOODS from Araxi
Whistler, BC | In its quest to continually raise the culinary bar, Araxi – Whistler’s leader in exemplary food, wine and hospitality – has introduced a dedicated Oyster Bar just in time for the Whistler Film Festival.
As skiers and riders take their final turns of the day on Whistler Blackcomb, an elevated après ski experience awaits at Araxi’s new Oyster Bar. Every afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 pm, guests can enjoy a platter of fresh-shucked oysters for $15.00 while they unwind in Araxi’s warm yet contemporary setting. Experienced oystermen Patrick Cantin-Gayton and James Tims, who shuck up to a thousand oysters every evening, will also explain the subtle differences from a list that counts up to a dozen varieties delivered fresh daily.
Sleek in design and clad in stainless steel with a classic marble countertop, the Oyster Bar is located adjacent to Araxi’s bar and lounge. A convivial place to meet locals and fellow travelers, or to simply enjoy recommended oyster and wine pairings, Araxi’s Oyster Bar is open late and also provides an oyster du jour special from 10:00 pm to midnight. Read more
The GOODS from Cavalier
Vancouver, BC | Cavalier’s Designer of the Month for December is Fiona Morrison of Wolf Circus Jewelry. Fiona Morrison created Wolf Circus Jewelry in 2011 while attending University. She began the company after purchasing a wolf head ring and noticing the discussion and compliments a simple piece of jewelry could bring. Wolf Circus Jewelry is intended for the bold, beautiful, brainy and badass. These pieces aim to inspire confidence and spark imagination every time you slip them on. Read more
by Chuck Hallett | We lead a charmed life here in BC, at least as far as good beverages are concerned. Entire swathes of the beer-drinking world are still stuck under the oppressive thumb of Big Beer, knowing naught of the delightful, hand-crafted products that the rest of us take for granted, never even suspecting that beer can be more than something to get drunk on before a football game.
But the isolation knife cuts both ways. Us spoiled BC-types have a tendency to get complacent. We forget that while we do generally have pretty great beer, in the grand scheme of things most of our craft beer is fairly average. Beer releases in BC that are truly world-class come along only on very rare occasions.
This is one of those occasions. Four Winds Brewing of Delta have proudly declared their membership in the upper echelon of BC breweries by throwing down a Brettyanomyces-fermented and corked whopper of a Saison, titled simply “Saison Brett.”
Before winding up in your mouth, this beer spent six months fermenting away inside six used wine barrels from BC’s own Burrowing Owl and Stag’s Hollow wineries. During that time the beer absorbed depths of character from the oak and bubbling Brettanomyces dried it out while adding a funky, straw/barn-like complexity to an already exceptional beer.
Reviews have generally been of the “frothing-at-the-mouth amazeballs” variety and, frankly, I agree 100%. This is an outstanding beer that can either be eagerly drunk this instant and or cellared (marvellously) for up to two or three years. I’m not kidding when I say that this is the best beer to be produced in BC in a very long time. As per usual with beers of this quality, only a very limited quantity was released, so get some sooner rather later or you’ll probably regret it.
Find yours at select private liquor stores (my full list) for $12 to $15.00 per 750ml bottle. Note that only 136 cases were made and even less were distributed, so you best move now.