The GOODS from Tacofino
Vancouver, BC | The Tacofino Commissary is still accepting holiday party bookings, including for New Year’s Eve. With a few weeks left in the holiday season, there is still time to organize a get-together to enjoy Tacofino’s delicious offerings. A totally customizable menu combined with a laid-back and casual setting provides a fun and warm environment to let loose and enjoy the holiday season. How loose? Well, that’s up to you. And if you are having a hard time finding that unique catering experience, inquire about how you can have the Tacofino truck come to you by contacting Laura at laura.tacofino [at] gmail.com. Read more
by Andrew Morrison | Douglas Adams once wrote: “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news.” Too right. I expect that word of Boneta’s closing next month will reach far and wide and fast before you finish reading this.
It’s official: the award-winning Gastown eatery from Mark Brand and Neil Ingram will shutter for good after a final service scheduled for December 23rd. Though it’s not listed for sale yet, I’ve been told that Brand and Ingram are already in discussions with more than one interested party and that they have no plans to reopen the restaurant after the Christmas holidays.
Management were told of the decision to close before the weekend. The remainder of the staff were told late this afternoon.
Boneta, named after Brand’s mother, launched at its former location, 1 West Cordova St., in July of 2007. It moved a stone’s throw away to its current location in The Garage development four years later in September of 2011.
Its highly idiosyncratic French-West Coast food concept stayed true through four chefs. The first was Jeremie Bastien, a former sous chef from Lumiere. He was followed by Jason Leizert and Ciaran Chung, and finally the talented Jeff MacIntosh (I expect he’ll pop up elsewhere soon). The cuisine successfully hovered in that hard-to-nail nether region between casual and fine dining. So did the service. The atmosphere, however, was invariably casual. As a favourite hang-out for gourmands at rest (it was the unofficial headquarters of restaurant industry veterans on their nights off), it will be sorely missed.
Business, I’m told, has been good, and being a regular customer myself, I didn’t find that hard to believe. The bar remains a magnet for cocktail lovers, the dining room always looks busy, and it’s long been a popular venue for large parties and corporate functions. Few restaurants in the city garner greater respect than Boneta. So why close now?
“We sat down and looked at where the dining scene was going and decided to get out on top,” Brand tells me. He also sees the move as a much needed chance to concentrate on his other projects, among them Portside, Sea Monstr Sushi, The Diamond and, of course, the big renovation of Save On Meats. For Ingram, it’s a little different. “This is my mid-life crisis,” the 47 year old says with a laugh. “Some people buy a sports car. I’m selling a restaurant. I want a change.” Will we see Ingram open another restaurant somewhere down the road? I expect so. The longer he takes a holiday the worse off our restaurant scene will be.
They might be happy and excited for the change, but I don’t share their enthusiasm, at least not yet. I think this sucks, straight up. It’s as hard to imagine Gastown without a Boneta in 2014 as it was difficult to imagine Gastown with a Boneta in 2007.
To say that a lot has changed in the neighbourhood in those seven years would be a spectacular understatement. Boneta’s success and popularity showed that it was possible to do something a little (or a lot) more elevated than your basic tourist trap or pub in the neighbourhood, and I can’t help but wonder if any of the newer restaurants – L’Abattoir, Cork & Fin, Secret Location, House Guest, Pourhouse, et cetera – would have dared open in these parts if Boneta had not first blazed the trail. Perhaps the old Latin logical fallacy of Post hoc ergo propter hoc (After this, therefore, because of this) actually works in this regard.
Like so many other restaurants, Boneta was conceived over after-work drinks between the original trio of Brand, Ingram, and Andre McGillivray. Brand was working at Chambar with McGillivray at the time, and McGillivray knew Ingram when they were together at Feenie’s and Lumiere.
According to Ingram, the restaurant came about – conceptually – as the three of them kvetched about their respective places of employment. Over pints, they would pine and lament, saying things like “I wish my restaurant was a little more like yours“. The trio amounted to something of a dream team. “The only thing that could have made it better,” Ingram half jokes, “is if we’d pulled someone out of Vij’s”.
Together, they were aiming for something that was a little like Feenie’s, a little like Lumiere, and a little like Chambar, but entirely their own. Their choice of location was a risky one, as 1 West Cordova had just finished chewing up three different restaurants in as many years. What’s more, they only had a one year lease. I remember how they built the place. It was with their bare hands.
BONETA OVER THE YEARS
The rest is history. In a story I wrote for Vancouver Magazine several years ago, I quoted a restaurant lifer who, in comparing the $8 million price tag of David Aisenstat’s Shore Club (now closed) to the less than $100,000 spent to launch Boneta, said: “For eight million, I would have preferred 80 Bonetas.” Who wouldn’t?
Boneta has won over a dozen coveted awards since opening, even landing a spot on enRoute Magazine’s 10 Best New Restaurants list in 2008. These accolades and achievements were earned and shared by a great staff. Today’s fine crew – led by Ben de Champlain (who actually got his start in the kitchen) – compliment some first tier alumni. To wit, Chad Clark, now the general manager at Hawksworth, was a member of Boneta’s opening team; Rodney Scharf managed the floor before moving on to run Cork & Fin; Simon Kaulback, now co-owner at Mamie Taylor’s in Chinatown, was a fixture for several years, moving up from barman to general manager; Justin Tisdall, now the GM at Chambar, also toiled behind the bar early on, as did Steve Da Cruz, who went on to open the Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe in 2009 (with McGillivray) before opening The Parker in 2012 with ex-Boneta chef Jason Leizert. And who can forget Charlie Ainsbury? Amazingly, between Scout and Vancouver Magazine, Boneta has counted three Bartenders of the Year behind its wood and well (Brand, Kaulback, de Champlain), while Ingram, let it not be forgotten, was once crowned Sommelier of the Year. But who’s counting?
Like I said up top, it’s hard to imagine Gastown without Boneta. I’m going to miss it terribly; the excellent art by Charles Forsberg and Johnny Taylor, the tossing of spent corks behind the bar (in the thousands), and the oddly-shaped brass pole at the end of the bar that thousands of strippers once used to help them climb up and down the stage (salvaged from The Drake). But most of all I’m going to miss the feeling upon entry that I was home. That’s a pretty rare and special feeling, and I know it was felt by many.
The restaurant’s motto - BONETA LOVES YOU – never felt the least bit false. With a few weeks remaining, there’s still time to reciprocate.
Boneta, I love you, too.
The GOODS from Wildebeest
Vancouver, BC | On Tuesday, November 12th, Wildebeest will present our second bourbon supper in our ongoing series of pairing dinners. Join us in our private dining room for a welcome cocktail followed by five delicious courses, each paired with a different delicious bourbon from the house of Buffalo Trace. This time, think Eagle Rare, W.L. Weller, Ridgemont 1792, and other beauties served straight up or as a cocktail best suited to each course. And here’s what you’ll be enjoying with those lovely liquids…
THE BUFFALO & THE BEEST
Sawmill Bay oysters, candied lemon, bourbon mist
- W.L. Weller ‘Wheated’ Bourbon – Pig’s head terrine, porcini mushrooms, smoked quail egg
- Sazerac 6 Year Rye – Lamb tartare, heritage onions, horseradish emulsion, mustard seed gastrique
- Buffalo Trace Bourbon – Line-caught local cod, baby cabbage, sea urchin
- Buffalo Trace ‘Bensonhurst’ – Charred brassica, smoked ricotta, wheatberries
- Eagle Rare 10 Year – Aged pigeon, sunchokes, pear & chestnut sauce
- Ridgemont Reserve 1792 – East Van Roasters chocolate, parsnip pannacotta, walnut crumb
Tickets are $75, and very limited, available via email: eat [at] wildebeest.ca. Read more
The GOODS from Market by Jean-Georges
Vancouver, BC | MARKET by Jean-Georges is pleased to welcome new faces to its team. Montgomery Lau, former Senior Sous Chef at MARKET, has been promoted to Chef de Cuisine, and David Auer, former General Manager at Le Gavroche, has been named MARKET’s new Restaurant Manager.
Montgomery Lau, Chef de Cuisine | Montgomery Lau has come a long way from shopping in the local fresh foods markets in Hong Kong with his mother. Lau grew up in Hong Kong, where weekly dim sum outings made up a huge part of his childhood memories.
Lau later moved to Vancouver and grew up around the diversity that the city has to offer. This exposed him to foods from around the world. After a decision to turn his passion into a career, Lau enrolled at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. This led him to working at his first culinary job at French restaurant L’Emotion.
Lau joined the opening team for the MARKET by Jean-Georges after completing his apprenticeship. While preparing for the Winter Olympics of 2010, Lau was recruited for the opening of the new Westin Wall Centre at the Vancouver Airport and in 2011, Lau was chosen to represent B.C. and contend for the title of ‘Canada’s Chef of the Year’ at the National Chefs’ Conference.
Lau returned to MARKET as Senior Sous Chef in 2012 where his love for international flavours combined with his passion for local and produce was a perfect fit. Proving himself to be a talented chef whose culinary philosophy mirrors that of Jean-Georges Vongerichten himself, Lau has been promoted to Chef de Cuisine. As the leader now in the kitchen, Lau is committed to working with his team and local producers to delivering top notch product that honors the restaurant’s namesake and gives local Vancouver residents and visitors a truly world class experience.
David Auer, Restaurant Manager | After working his way through some of the Europe’s finest restaurants, David Auer has taken the helm as Restaurant Manager at MARKET by Jean-Georges. Bringing with him a depth of industry experience and education, Auer looks forward to exploring new opportunities and sharing with the new team his deep passion for food, wine and hospitality.
Upon completion of his Restaurant Management and Hospitality Diploma as well as his Sommelier Diploma in Wine & Cheese from the Gastronomic Catering Business School in Vienna, Auer went on to work throughout Austria and Switzerland in top restaurants including Gueard Val, and Restaurant Edelweis in the Löwen Hotel Schruns where he was at the time, the youngest Michelin star restaurant manager in the country.
After falling in love with his future wife, Auer followed her to a job in Vancouver where he started at the Divino Wine Bar as General Manager and later moved to Uva Winebar & Cibo Trattoria. Prior starting at MARKET, Auer was positioned as General Manager at Le Gavroche.
Known as an innovator, Auer is unafraid to try new things and to challenge the status quo. Auer wants to create experiences that people will remember. Whether it is visits from high profile chefs, restaurants swaps or unique restaurant promotions, guests of MARKET by Jean-Georges can look forward to memorable meals and an exciting calendar of events to come. Read more
by Andrew Morrison | As you’ve likely already heard, the Save On Meats operation is being downsized. With the new landlord, they’ve lost the commissary kitchen on the second floor, so they’re renovating the diner for the next three months to make the existing first floor kitchen space (and butcher shop) work. In the interim, regulars are invited to check out a Save On Meats pop-up in the No. 1 Noodle House location at 1 West Cordova. We’ve confirmed that – unfortunately – No. 1 won’t be coming back to the space (but it could pop-up in a smaller space elsewhere somewhere else).
The new Save On Meats pop-up will act as a test kitchen for perfecting the revamped eatery’s new menu. They’ll be launching with a new meatball sandwich on the weekly menu, for example, and taking comments from customers until they perfect the recipe. Burgers will be the same ‘Save On’ slap burgers, but with a long list of add-ons like grilled cheese sandwich bun, hot dogs, deep fried perogies, and so on. Take a look at the menu below…
Owner Mark Brand has retained the core staff, including Save On’s “barrier” program employees. The pop-up – which officially opens this Friday – will be open for brunch, lunch and dinner.
by Andrew Morrison | One of the best restaurants to open so far this year is Burdock & Co.. It took over the old Cafeteria space at 2702 Main Street at 11th just a few months ago. It’s owned by noted local food promoter and former Bishop’s chef Andrea Carlson and her partner, designer/architect Kevin Bismanis. It’s gotten great press to date and even been shortlisted for enRoute Magazine’s 2013 Best New Restaurants in Canada list. The room is small and the look is airy, woody, clean and a little subdued, but not the least bit sleepy. A homey feel is achieved by way of mismatched antique silverware, natural linen napkins, and a floor staff that engages without being overbearingly “on message”. They know the contents and nuance of every dish on the menu, and can talk at length (with no small amount of pride) about every facet of the restaurant. Permeating everything is a sense of comfort. Burdock & Co. makes one feel totally at ease. There are no luxurious trappings or “talking point” design motifs. It’s honest and endearing, refreshing and real.
I fell hard for the fried chicken and pickled vegetable plate with crispy skin and charred chili vinegar . The breading on the chicken sports great flavour and the pickle sting of the garden medley gels well with the gentle punch of the sauce. It’s also really pretty to look at, with its bright colours artfully arranged on earthy ceramic. The other hit was a well-composed plate of burdock and heritage pork sausage slices hiding amidst perfectly seasoned potato cubes, all under a canopy of fresh dandelion . Neither were substantial in size, which left me wanting a little more. Still, their impact was more on the palate than on the belly, so the satisfaction comes from being wowed. It might therefore be especially prudent to order more than one dish per person. You can then share or hoard according to your miserly or generous sensibilities.
For drinks, they offer a tidy selection of wines and a handful of interesting beers (I love that Summer Solstice session ale from California’s Anderson Valley Brewing Company – so good with the chicken ), as well as some original cocktails and non-alcoholic concoctions, like the Cascadian Cooler of apple, fenugreek, lime, mint, and ginger beer was really refreshing . The list reads well, with curation being the name of the game.
I don’t want to give Carlson and Bismanis any ideas, but what they’re charging per plate is shockingly low for the quality of the ingredients and the love that comes across loud and clear in the cooking (everything is local, sustainable, organic). I was a little taken aback by the price of their non-alcoholic drinks ($6.50 for the Cascadian Cooler), but dollar for dollar I reckon Burdock & Co. to be one of the better value restaurants on Main. If you haven’t been yet, go, and snag that chicken dish before it’s gone.
Burdock & Co. is open 7 days a week from 5pm on. They do not accept reservations.
The GOODS from The Acorn
Vancouver, BC | Please join us on Thursday, July 25 to celebrate the second instalment of the Acorn Artist Series and our Summer Cocktail launch! This month features the work of Vancouver-based artist Howie Tsui. Tsui has contributed a collage that is part of the series “Bad Trip, New Religion,” which depicts various strains of mushrooms arranged to resemble shapes found within human anatomy.
Our new bartending team has crafted a selection of featured cocktails including the “Tangled Up In Bleu”, made with Vancouver’s Long Table Gin, Acorn Garden Lavender and Blueberry Shrub with Prosecco. The “Cherry Smash” is a localized take on the classic Whiskey Smash made with Bourbon, BC cherry citrus preserve, and mint. Come and try them all! Read more
by Andrew Morrison | I toured the upcoming Farmer’s Apprentice yesterday at 1529 West 6th between Fir & Granville. The “mostly” veggie-based eatery from ex-Wildebeest chef David Gunawan and his girlfriend Dara Young is now slated to open at the end of July. Here’s some of the skinny from when we broke the news of its coming back in May:
“Gunawan tells me that it will have a vegetable focus, but that it won’t be strictly vegetarian. He puts the philosophy thusly: “Good accessible food is more than just a convergence of technique and fertile soil—it derives from the passions of the people who are working toward it. Our approach is a modern interpretation of ecological gastronomy. Ingredients are sourced selectively and cultivated at the peak of their flavours and integrity. The menu traces seasonal variations and changes as frequently as nature permits. Our intention is to endorse young agrarians and food sovereignty through creativity.” He also quotes American man of letters (and noted farmer) Wendell Berry: “The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”
“The location is a bit of a destination and South Granville has long had a bad habit of killing new restaurants with the sharp blade of residential indifference, but considering how well Gunawan did at Wildebeest (it was just named the year’s “Best New Restaurant” at the Van Mag awards) and that many in the community will remember him from his time at nearby West, you have to think that name recognition will generate plenty of curiosity out of the gate. This is also his first time as an owner, so I expect he’ll be swinging for the fences with especially tasty results.”
The space will seat about 30 people with a 12 seat patio out front (signage by local artist Andy Dixon) and plate a daily menu based on whatever the farmers might deliver that day. That should translate into about 9-10 dishes, plus 2-3 desserts. I’ve seen Gunawan’s menu, and it looks mighty tasty. Think grilled cucumber and chocolate, heirloom tomato gazpacho with Dungeness crab and basil sorbet, summer squash tartar with walnut and smoked eggplant puree, Asian headcheese terrine with chewy pickles, and other things besides.
by Andrew Morrison | Former Market server Ray Loy is set to open his Bambudda eatery at 99 Powell Street in Gastown this evening. Here’s my skinny from when we broke the news of its coming back in February:
[...] the 8,000 sqft. space has been split into two addresses by the landlord, with one larger than the other. Both have already been leased. The bigger space, which is liquor primary, is apparently being turned into a nightclub [update: this is The Alexander/Brooklyn], which is to say that it’s the smaller spot that interests me. It’s slated to become a restaurant, and a likely a good one at that.
It’s called Bambudda. It will be a 55-60 seat contemporary Chinese joint dishing mostly Cantonese-inspired plates (plenty of nouveau dim sum) in a more stylish environment than we normally see from the milieu; expect a more fashionable design, darker lighting a more relaxed ambience, an audible soundtrack (ie. not a mere din), considered cocktails, et cetera (if you think that sounds a little like Bao Bei a few blocks to the south, I agree, except that in this case we’re talking about Cantonese rather than Shanghainese/Taiwanese). There will also be a sidewalk patio outside and a 400 sqft private room for up to 18 people.
Behind Bambudda is front of house lifer Ray Loy, who worked at “C”, Joe Fortes, and Bacchus before he became part of the opening team at Market by Jean George in the Shangri-La hotel, where he has been ever since. His parents brought him to Vancouver from Hong Kong when he was an infant some 40 years ago. He was raised in Strathcona/Chinatown, and opening a restaurant has been a lifelong dream. Where does the name Bambudda come from? “It’s a mix of two of my favourite things.” Loy explains. “Bamboo and buddha”.
The chef, Keev Mah, is a self-described “food nerd” who found a passion for the culinary arts in the kitchens of his grandmothers. Apparently, one grandma would cook Cantonese Chinese-inspired dishes with a Kelantanese-Malaysian slant and the other would cook Fujian-Chinese and Vietnamese-influenced food informed by her Nyonya-Peranakan heritage. Malaysian-born and French-trained, Mah worked at several restaurants in Vancouver (Hy’s, Malarkey’s, Circa) before landing this gig. He might be unknown to the fooderati, but I’m told he’s well travelled, well schooled, and a super keen perfectionist who likes to innovate.
The menu looks really interesting, and as you can see the space itself has turned out exceptionally well. They worked through two soft openings over the Canada Day long weekend and tonight is zero hour — the real deal. Check out the menu and ex-Maenam barman Buck Friend’s cocktail list (isn’t that a great name for a bartender?) amidst the photos below. The hours are 5:30pm to midnight, Tuesday through Sunday.
Andrew Morrison is the editor-in-chief of Scout and BC’s Senior Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships. He contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and TV shows on local food, culture and travel. He live and works in the vibrant Strathcona neighbourhood, where he also collects inexpensive things and enjoys birds, skateboards, whisky, shoes, many songs, and the smell of wood fires.
Chris Whittaker | Executive Chef
Margot Baloro | Restaurant Manager
Matthew President | Assistant Restaurant Manager
Forage stands for everything I care about. It represents what I was taught about food preparation both when I was growing up and over the course of my career in the kitchen. To me Forage means that we no longer seek out excess and indulgence, but instead revisit a time when we respected the land and oceans and took only what we needed to survive. It is about being stewards of our land and true conservationists, as we conduct our business and live our lives. It is about goodness, about taking care of each other, and bringing together our community over good food. Our philosophy is a way of life as much as a way of doing business. Saving energy, conserving water, composting and local/responsible purchasing policies all make a positive contribution to our world and our company’s bottom line. Casual, comfortable and affordable, Forage celebrates all things BC. The menu is locally focused in both food and beverage; service is attentive yet never fussy, and its approachable West End location (1300 Robson Street beside The Listel Hotel) makes Forage a local’s locale. It’s an ideal destination for breakfast 7 days a week, brunch on weekends and nightly for drinks and dinner from 4pm.
Chris Whittaker, Executive Chef
The GOODS from Wildebeest
Vancouver, BC | This weekend’s special Mother’s Day edition of our Sunday dinner series has made Nick Miller cry tears of joy twice already. As always, these meals are curated and butchered from whole animals, lamb in this week’s case, and as such availability is very limited. Each dinner is $180 and is a complete meal for four guests, or an amazing anchor for larger groups. Dig into the menu after the jump. Read more
Mother’s Day is right around the corner (this Sunday, May 12th) and every day this week (and last) we’ve received lots of awesome pampering ideas and details for special brunches and suppers from Scout Community members. Rather than put them up individually so that they flooded the front page, we decided to organise the mega post below instead. It features deals and meals from the good folks at Heartbreaker Salon, Campagnolo, Beta5, Road 13, La Pentola, Minami and more. Take the day to celebrate your Moms! Dig in after the jump… Read more
We’ve invited South Granville’s Siena restaurant to join our GOODS section as an excellent place to enjoy a well made supper. They are now proud members of Scout, and as such we will be posting their news in addition to hosting a page for them on our awesome, curated list of independent goodnesses. We’d like to take this chance to thank them for their support, and for making Vancouver a more delicious place to live.