When The Brave Bull closed in September of last year, there wasn’t much in the way of weeping. At least not from me. It had been serving steaks out of the corner location of East Hastings and Clark since 1985. I knew it well. The owners were proud and friendly and their sirloins were super cheap, like in the region of $10 per. Nevertheless, the prospect of dirt cheap meat didn’t get me all excited, and neither did the taste. I mean, food costing aside, where does one acquire a $10 sirloin, anyway? Was it a planned loss leader to get people through the door? In any event, folks tend to shy away from restaurants that have the word “brave” in their entreaty, so like all things it came to pass.
When they upped sticks and sold it off to the big bad developers (who’ve put a demolition clause on the place), the founder of the Yolks breakfast food truck, chef Steve Ewing (ex-Raincity Grill, Beachside, French Laundry, Rockwater) picked it up so as to use the back space as a commissary kitchen for his mobile operations. Soon, other food trucks came a-knocking (La Taqueria, Tacofino, Fliptop) to use the space, too. Fast forward to a month or two ago and it was like the back of house was rocking and the front of house was a shuttered wasteland of profitless drag. Using the 44 seats to Ewing’s advantage seemed a no brainer, which leads us to this week, as the new eatery nears opening day.
It’s pretty unrecognisable today from when it was The Brave Bull. The Greco-Roman styling of the exterior has been painted over with light yellow and blue, and the interior is basic and clean (dig the framed photo exhibit from local shooter Norman Fox). The only noticeably original fixtures are the buttoned leather bar fronts. The lamps look old, but that’s because they’ve been salvaged from chicken coops. The kitchen has been cleaned as well as you can imagine that it needed to be in your worst nightmares. They’ve kept the beautiful old gas stove and had it cleaned down its original surface squeakiness, while the adjacent flat top is rocking old school with curled bevelled edges. It would be a fun line to cook on. And big! The kitchen is huge. Are we going to see the fancy food that Ewing cooked during his fine dining years? No. Just eggs and such, and hopefully the Fried Chicken and waffles that you can get from his truck.
“The desire to cook that way just isn’t there anymore,” he says. “I want to turn out simple, good food.” Yolks sounds like a winner, and if it is one, there are another 45 seats that are currently tucked away in anticipation of the busy day that they’ll be needed. Opening day is slated for this Friday morning. The hours are expected to be 7am to 3pm on weekdays and 9am to 4pm on weekends (closed Monday/Tuesday in the first couple of months). We wish Steve et al the very best. Break a leg, guys, and welcome to the neighbourhood!