17-Seat ‘Barbara’ Opening Soon in Chinatown

Chef and first-time restaurateur Patrick Hennessy is on track to open what will likely prove to be a very exciting small restaurant in Chinatown this Spring.

Construction will soon begin on the 17-seat Barbara. It is named after the chef/owner’s mother, who taught Patrick how to cook and encouraged his love of food at a young age. The 500 sqft restaurant project is located on the ground floor of the new Brixton Flats building at 305 East Pender Street.

When I took a look inside the space last week it was as raw as can be, but I’ve seen some renderings of the design by Ply Architecture, which will come complete with a mural by local artist Sarah Delaney, millwork by Union Wood Co. and contracting by Harmony Pacific — it looks pretty sweet.

I’ll have more on that in the New Year, but what has me salivating about Barbara from its pre-construction beginnings isn’t its location or the promise of a cool interior. Rather, it’s Patrick’s cooking. This guy has been developing his talent in and outside of Vancouver for a long time. He has plenty of prime time experience, counting sous chef turns at Kissa Tanto and New York City’s acclaimed Eleven Madison Park on his resume, plus a five-year run as sous chef at Chambar. Starting last night, he’s on the line helping out at Oca Pastificio on Commercial Drive.

He’s a careful guy – as evidenced by a two-year search for the right location – but he has a lot of industry goodwill blowing his sails. In developing Barbara – essentially a casual, chef-driven small plates concept (soundtracked by early 90s hip hop, thank goodness) – he has received guidance from many in the Chambar diaspora, restaurateurs like Robbie Kane of Cafe Medina and Justin Tisdall of Juke Fried Chicken, not to mention Nico and Karri Schuermans of Chambar (to date, almost two dozen restaurants – several of them among the best in Canada – have been opened by former Chambar employees).

All of that is to say if you consider yourself even a minor food enthusiast or hardcore restaurant zealot, Barbara needs to be on your radar. The dinner-only establishment will be open five nights a week, perhaps as soon as the mid-March, 2020.

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