by Andrew Morrison | Dormant 441 Gore Street in Chinatown is about to get its first tenant in many years. The space, which used to house a Chinese grocery way back in the day, will become “Snack City” at the end of the month, a 1,000 sqft victualling station offering everything from smokes, candy, organic produce, coffee, and Cartem’s Donuts to locally made jewelry, ceramics, art books, and vintage porn zines. It’s coming to the neighbourhood courtesy of Celia Hamilton, who has a background in film industry catering, and Aisha Davidson, lately of Community Thrift & Vintage. Though the interior still has a ways to go before it’s ready, it’s clearly a neat little box of potential. Take a look at some photos after the jump… Read more
It was four years ago today that Lee Cooper, Paul Grunberg, and Nin Rai opened their critically acclaimed Gastown eatery L’Abattoir at 217 Carrall Street (the original Irish Heather location). Take a look below for behind the scenes images taken during construction, training, and on opening day…
photos by Luis Valdizon | The sweltering Khatsahlano Street Party went down over the weekend along West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano with dozens of food trucks, 50 bands, 100+ participating merchants and vendors, and over 100,000 attendees. Shots after the jump… Read more
On July 9th, 2009, the restaurant community in Gastown was significantly smaller than it is now, but the amount of good will and camaraderie within was very high. To wit, during the construction of Pourhouse – five years ago today – young restaurant owners and staff from across the DTES gathered in the mess of the construction site to put the bar in place, together, and anoint it in ceremony as a family. We were lucky enough to catch it on video (above)… Read more
by Andrew Morrison | As noted in the Scout List, it wasn’t just Cuchillo celebrating a milestone this week. The Acorn, arguably Canada’s best vegetarian restaurant, raised glasses (and munched catered Los Cuervos tacos) to mark their 2nd birthday on Monday night. It’s been a incredibly successful run for the Main Street eatery to date. Not only have they attracted people from the neighbourhood in droves, they’ve also impressed discerning gourmands – meat eaters included – from all across the city and country. But most importantly, The Acorn has elevated the meatless milieu to new heights in Vancouver, showing chefs and restaurateurs both young and well established that it’s entirely possible to thoroughly seduce the dining public without the traditional aids of duck fat and pork belly. For proof of this, pay them a visit. Forget all the recognition and the Gold Medal Plates victory and just concentrate on the food and drink in front of you. Even if you’re a carnivore of the most savage sort there’s no denying the skill, talent, or taste.
First years are tough for restaurants in Vancouver, where the market is over-saturated and the costs involved are prohibitively high. We mention this (the utterly obvious) because we were cleaning up our photo galleries earlier today and saw that it was the first birthday of Cuchillo, the Latin-flavoured DTES eatery on Powell St. from John Cooper and chef Stu Irving (pictured above). Like nearby Pidgin, they didn’t have the smoothest of starts on account of anti-gentrification activists picketing their front door, but they kept their heads down and concentrated on the things they could control, namely the service of quality food and drink (the protests backfired, handing both restaurants legions of new diners who thought abusing small businesses was an ill-considered response to a complex issue). The photos below reveal how much work went into the build. And so, with that and a sudden craving for battered rockfish tacos, we wish them a very happy birthday!
by Grady Mitchell | ”In my house, everybody was loyal to the funny,” says comedian Dino Archie. Growing up in Fresno, California, his family held a house philosophy of good-natured ribbing, so he learned to dish it out and, maybe even more importantly, to take it, too. On Friday, June 27, he’ll showcase a lifetime’s worth of talent when he performs at The River Rock Casino with Ivan Decker, Brent Morin, and David Merheje.
Not all his family were amateur jokers and performers. His uncle, for example, was a professional comedian, and his grandfather was a preacher. “He could sing like one of the Four Tops,” Dino says. “He would preach freestyle; he would never write.” He saw the same crowds every week, and he had to keep them entertained. Although the message is different, the lessons Dino learned from his grandpa’s delivery are invaluable. That influence, along with early black comics like Richard Pryor, movies like I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and Hollywood Shuffle, and shows like In Living Color, served as the foundation for his comedy. Although he writes much of his material, he often launches impromptu riffs in his shows, much like his grandpa. Usually those moments involve audience members, and the better ones sometimes get added to his regular rotation.
Originally, Dino wanted to be behind the scenes, not onstage. He dreamed of being a screenwriter and attended film school to learn how to make movies, not star in them. Then a friend signed him up for an open mike in North Hollywood. After five minutes onstage, he was hooked. Since then he’s been performing three or four shows every week.
A few years ago he came to visit a friend living in BC. Gripped by the city’s thriving comedy scene, a month-long visit turned into something much longer. Vancouver offered a vibrant community of talented comics, and the perfectly-sized market for Dino to hone his skills. For the past 3 years he has bounced between LA and Vancouver, telling jokes almost nightly. Whether an intimate club or a massive theatre like the River Rock, Dino’s goal is always the same: “Play to the guy at the back of the room. If you can grab the guy in the last row, you’ll snatch everyone ahead of him, too.”
To buy tickets to the Vancity Summer Comedy Extravaganza, click here.
by Ken Tsui | The first Sunday of the 3rd annual Food Cart Fest went down this past weekend. Located at 215 West 1st Ave (on the seawall just west of Olympic Village), the new summer tradition is anchored by a laager of 20 food carts dishing out their best. Diners will be happy to learn that the organisers added more seating and new activities this year. Lisa Giroday was on hand from Victory Gardens with her trowel, for example, hosting workshops, while Michael Unger – formerly of the Biltmore Ping Pong Club – was hosting several outdoor on multiple games. As always, there was music, plenty of people-watching, and – naturally – a deep selection of delicious foods. Take a look!
There are few pieces of art that are so evocatively emblematic of Vancouver as Bill Reid’s bronze orca whale masterpiece, Chief of the Undersea World. The 18ft high, 1.587 ton beauty has guarded the entrance of the Vancouver Aquarium since 1984, so it’s been seen and appreciated by millions upon millions of people over three decades (goodness knows how many wishes I’ve made at its water fountain base). It was removed a couple of years ago and put in storage for safe-keeping while the Aquarium’s new plaza and entrance went under construction. On a late night last week, it was carefully returned to its foundation with the help of a crane, a flatbed truck, and probably some math. The Aquarium had the foresight to film both the removal and the return, and they are sharing the fascinating footage – presented in time-lapse format – with us today. Take a look…
by Grady Mitchell | Kingsgate Mall will always be a shopping centrepiece in Mount Pleasant, but for the month of June it’s pulling double duty as a creative hub, too. For her residency with the Western Front artist’s centre, Casey Wei has launched Kingsgate Mall Happenings, a month-long schedule of events in the mall including concerts, public forums, curated conversations, comedy, poetry readings, dance, karaoke, and even tarot readings.
Rather than disappear into dusty archives during her residency and conduct research, Casey chose to make a more public-facing and dynamic project. Although a mall seems an unlikely place to stage art, the response from Kingsgate management was enthusiastic from the get-go.
Casey and her crew have set up a small lounge in the centre of the mall comprised of some broken-in leather couches, a column of three TV monitors, and a rack of zines and schedules. This is a sort of command centre from which she’ll orchestrate and host the month’s events. Casey is still open to adding acts. You can get in touch with her via Kingsgatemallhappenings@gmail.com.
To check out the event schedule and learn more about Happenings, check out the website.
A new cafe has taken over the space that used to house Solder & Sons bookstore, right next to Super Champion Specialty Cycle Shop on the Downtown Eastside. It’s named (rather lazily) after the address, 247 Main [Street], so don’t start thinking it’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
While they serve up Bows X Arrows Coffee in different ways and tea from Granville Island Tea Co., the main attractions are the juices, which are excellent. There are three combinations on offer. On our last visit, owner Joda Clément was serving up carrot, apple and ginger; orange, ginger and pineapple; and beet, apple, carrot, and mint. Expect these combinations to rotate in and out with others. The fruits/veg are fresh and juiced to order, and the prices are darn attractive (small 2.75, large 4.25).
As far as food is concerned, there is none. Clément says he might add small bites in the future, but since there’s no kitchen we don’t see it ever being a significant facet of the operation.
The bookstore side of things sees a mix of used books and small run, artist-produced books, the latter curated by Denise Ryner of Committee Artist Books. Expect book-related events – eg. launches, author talks, readings, etc. – to start rolling in the near future. Take a look the next time you’re in neighbourhood.
247 Main Cafe | 10am-6pm Tue-Fri | 11am-5pm Sat+Sun | Website
by Shaun Layton | I was one of 16 bartenders invited to participate in the third annual Barate Kid Bartending competition at The Keefer Bar this past Monday, May 19th. It is what the majority of Vancouver bartenders consider to be the best competition of its kind, and I was glad to be in the mix again. If you recall, Josh Pape won the inaugural in 2012 (representing The Diamond) and Ben Champlain won it last year (representing Boneta).
The idea for it started when co-creators Keenan Hood (Bar Manager at The Keefer bar) and David Greig (my former sidekick/Jude Law lookalike at L’Abattoir) were getting tired of the same old competitions. Cocktail comps tend to drag on for hours, get way too serious, and the amount of homemade bitters, cedar-aged Chartreuse, barrel-aged moustache wax, and bow-tied bartenders can be a bit much. They’re not always the way every barkeep wants to spend their night off. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these competitions are great and I have personally competed in many (and traveled the world doing so), but sometimes they just end up being like ego-stroking meetings of the Mutual Admiration Society, with the same old judges and the same top three finishers. So David and Keenan thought, I wonder how all these people would fair if they just had to make the drinks we all make on a day to day basis in a packed bar, a la minute, while being judged on timing, taste, and Barate skills (a mix of showmanship, style, technique, cleanliness, etc)?
The response, of course, has been incredible. This year saw a $50 buy in, winner take all, bracket-style competition. It was a one-on-one format where the judges would call out 4-7 classics. From the get-go, it was on!
It was so rad seeing guys like Nick Devine (Cascade Group), Steve da Cruz (The Parker), and Jacob Sweetapple (Absolut Vodka) come back behind the bar and throw down! A good mix of the new brigade also showed well (Grant Sceney of the Fairmont, you better watch your back). As far as I know, there was even a waiting list of people who wanted to compete, just in case there were any no-shows. Other competitors were JS Dupuis (Homer st Cafe), Evelyn Chick (Blue Water Cafe), Robyn Gray (Hotel Georgia), Cooper Tardivel (Hawksworth), H (Notturno), Josh Pape (Wildebeest), Gezza McAlpine (The Keefer), Dani Tatarin (The Keefer), Yours Truly (L’Abattoir), Jay Browne (Calabash), Ben De Champlain (Former Boneta), and Thor Paulson (Wildebeest).
This was by far the most fun bar-related event ever thrown in Vancouver (and probably the rest of Canada, too). The place was packed out the door and into the empty street from 5-11 on a long weekend Monday. Keeping spirits high were little side comps (free pour contests!), a mini back bar to help hydrate all the off-duty barkeeps not competing who showed up to watch, and a ridiculous DJ playing 80’s tracks from The Karate Kid soundtrack. Even the judging panel was great: Vancouver bar guru David Wolywidnyk; former Vancouverite and now owner of Canon in Seattle Jamie Boudreau (he’s so hot in Germany right now, even bigger than Hasselhoff), and Corby rep (ex-bartender) Casey Mackay, who generously donated a lot of booze for the event.
Highlights from the opening rounds included H dawning his high heeled boots (don’t ask), the Aussi vs Aussi matchup of mentor and student (Sweetapple vs Sceney), #BarateGate2014 Layton vs Tarvidel (wherein the scoring was originally counted incorrectly), and James Iranzad (natch) running a Vegas-style racket.
In the end it was down to Josh “cooler than the other side of the pillow” Pape versus The Keefer’s own Gezza “is this guy on P.E.Ds?” McAlpine. Gezza ended up taking the title in a performance that was fast, efficient, and with spot-on drinks. All in all, it was a totally legit comp. There was a clear winner, no tears, and most important of all, everyone had a great time on their day off. Cheers to Keenan and the Keefer Bar crew for this awesome competition. You should take it national!
by Grady Mitchell | Painter Noah Becker wants us to take a long look at ourselves. Or, more specifically, take a long look at our habit of photographing ourselves. His upcoming show, For Men Who Appreciate History, opens with a reception tonight (Thursday, May 8) at the Back Gallery Project (602 E Hastings) from 6-8pm. The life-like, formal portraits that make up the show cheekily illustrate our ambivalent cultural fascination with the often ridiculed, sometimes shameful, and at times glorious “selfie”.
Many of Becker’s subjects are drawn from amateur hair models of the 60s. That novice quality is key, he says, to the success of the images. The ways in which their faces communicate nervous tension – averted eyes, blank expressions, etc. – vitalizes the images, elevates them to flesh and blood rather than two dimensional renderings. In turn, that realism makes them vivid, despite a generally neutral colour palette. Some of Becker’s other portraits pluck figures from bygone eras and drop them into a modern context, such as a dignified portrait of Philip IV bulked up in Tim Tebow’s football pads.
Never before, says Noah, has a society so discarded privacy. This is well evidenced everywhere one looks, from Ellen taking superstar selfies at the Oscars to some unknown kid getting kicked in the head by a train conductor mid-selfie (which is better than getting smeared to oblivion by the train itself, as he so very nearly did). When a viewer studies one of his paintings, Becker says, they become voyeurs, accessories to awkward, private moments.
Born in Cleveland and raised on Thetis Island and in Victoria proper, Becker first grew enamoured with art through comics. They lead to art school, which introduced him to contemporary styles and the revered masters. From there he developed his unique style of oil painting. He’s also an accomplished jazz saxophonist and the founder and editor of the online art magazine Whitehot. Early on in his career he used the internet, he says, “as a two-way mirror into the art world.” (Around 300 published writers and 3 million words later, Whitehot is still running strong.)
Along with the opening at Back Gallery Project tonight (if you’re able, take a selfie with him at the show), Becker is being added, together with a number of other coastal artists, to the Victoria Art Gallery’s permanent collection on May 16th.
After several years of pop-up events and temporary locations, The Found & The Freed has finally found a fixed address: 706 Victoria Drive. That’s the old Scott’s corner store on the corner of Victoria and East Georgia, so it has great character. We recently stopped by on their first day of operations and found the place predictably full of interesting bits and bobs, including an ancient alligator’s head, a collection old and beautiful Vancouver-centric pennants, a stuffed California Quail, and all manner of other vintage fascinations besides. It was great to see owners/curators Ainsley McIntyre and Lindsay Burke in such a terrific location. It really does suit them. Take a closer look below. Hours: 12pm-7pm Thursday & Friday, 11am-6pm Saturday, and 11am-5pm Sunday.