Not all restaurant tables are created equal. Some shouldn’t even exist on account of their terrible positioning, while others are so superior in every way that they make the other tables in the dining room jealous. Scout keeps a running account of the very best ones here.
The Shop by Two Rivers is hopping. I feared it would be, which is why I had timed things to arrive at the end of the lunch rush (almost 2pm). Alas, the communal tables are full and the stools along the kitchen bar are taken. So we look around, eyeball the meat selections and select some apple bangers and dry-aged flat-iron to take home. Butcher Pasqual Stufano is busily doing his thing as the cooks behind the open line do theirs. The only people not moving are the customers. But as we order our cheeseburger, ramen (yes, the North Van restaurant/butchers does a ramen, and the pork broth is amazing) and tallow-fried, cinnamon-sugared beignets, a spot opens up in front of the grill. Then two. Perfect.
There are four seats in front of the grill and any one of them will do. They don’t have specific table or seat numbers (The Shop operates on a counter-service flag system) and they aren’t reservable, so if one is available when you walk in the door, fight for it. Why? Because from here you’ll get to see your house-ground, ridiculously juicy cheeseburger being made, and if you didn’t order a cheeseburger you get to see the results other peoples’ better decisions. The fellow on the birch wood-fired grill is fun to watch, as he works quickly with an economy of movement and isn’t the least bit shy (his easy affability reminded me of Peter’s at Savio Volpe). Also of note from here is the waft action. I’m not sure if it was from an unseen fan or an overzealous hood vent, but the comforting cooking and wood-burning aromas are gently zephyred in your face via a quiet, cooling, manufactured breeze — a welcome bonus!