I took a look inside Annalena in Kitsilano yesterday. The highly anticipated first restaurant from former Oakwood chef Mike Robbins and Jeff Parr is nearly finished, and is set to open to the public next Tuesday. Also on hand for my walk-through were barman Kevin Browlee, who has drafted a creative and playful cocktail list that flirts with the menu, and sous chef Mark Singson, who is reunited with Robbins in the kitchen after his run at Saint Crispin in Melbourne.
I spied the menu draft. It looks fantastic. Though I was told that all of it was subject to change come opening day, items that nevertheless got me especially excited included a pickle brine fried chicken with horseradish maple aioli; mussels in a garlic and fermented fennel broth with smoke essence; uni chowder with lobster tail and garlic butter mirepoix; and mashed potato chips with sweet and sour sauce. All very inventive, fun, and presumably delicious. Vintage Robbins.
For a refresher, here’s the basic skinny on the place, as we reported it back in January:
The talented former chef of The Oakwood, Mike Robbins, will soon score the keys to what will eventually be his first restaurant. He’s reunited/joined forces with FOH veteran Jeff Parr (formerly of The Oakwood, currently on the floor at Chambar) to open a new eatery called AnnaLena in the old Kits Daily Kitchen spot at 1809 West First Avenue.
The food concept will follow what we’ve come to expect from Robbins, which is to say Modern Canadian comfort. He nailed the milieu at the Oakwood – and I mean he really nailed it. I’ve only ever walked away from the gem completely satisfied (true even after Robbins’ departure), and consider it to be hugely under-rated (not to mention one of the very best brunch joints in town). If AnnaLena is anywhere near as good as The Oakwood – and I trust it will be – it’ll prove a major win for this isolated slice of Kitsilano.
The pair take possession of the 65 seater on February 3rd (at the end of Dine Out), and their goal is to open at some point in early March. What’s in a name? AnnaLena is a portmanteau-honorific combining the two first names of Robbins’ two grandmothers. Aw…
Hours at the newcomer will be 5pm to late-night, Tuesday through Sunday. Expect them to launch brunch at some point down the line, too. Take a closer look inside below.