Five Years Ago Today, Inside the Beginnings of Nightingale Restaurant

For this week’s edition of #ThrowbackThursday we go back exactly five years to the construction of chef David Hawksworth’s 166-seat Nightingale on West Hastings.

Five years ago I toured the voluminous, two-level, 7,400 sqft restaurant that would open a month and a half later (some two years after the project was first announced). Joining David Hawksworth and I on the walkabout were the opening chef, Phil Scarfone, and GM Taylor Mikasko. I remember being not a little floored by the sheer size of the project, amplified by the absence of tables, chairs and all the other dressings of a hospitality operation.

It loomed like a cathedral ruin than a restaurant in the works. Nightingale would quickly establish itself as a go-to in the Financial District with its food, drink and service all impressing out of the gate.

Here’s a clip of the original PR and a bunch of photos from the day:

Echoing the original Hawksworth Restaurant’s focus on exemplary service in an extraordinary setting, Nightingale’s social approach to dining offers honest and unpretentious dishes that showcase local ingredients with global influences.

“We’ve been having a lot of fun planning the menus at Nightingale,” says Chef David Hawksworth. “Our modern Canadian cuisine delivers options catered to the way that people want to eat today. There are choices of share plates, house-made pastas, creative wood-fired pizzas, salad and seasonal vegetable dishes; as well as accompaniments such as charcuterie and crudo.

Inspired by Aesop’s Fable of The Hawk & The Nightingale, the name encourages the celebration of the here and now. Here being the buzzing, vibrant and industrial-chic space in Coal Harbour’s MNP Tower and now being the freshest and finest locally sourced seasonal produce. Aesop’s Fable tells the story of a hungry hawk who catches a tiny nightingale and chooses to eat him instead of waiting for a bigger bird to come along: it gives us the proverb ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’.

Cheeky twists on classic cocktails and gin & tonic on tap at the prominent bar add a playful edge to the dynamic and high-energy dining space. Local craft beers will be showcased alongside a diverse spirit list and an approachable wine program to complement the vibrant cuisine.

* Note that even though the restaurant is closed for sit-down service at the time of writing (due to the new Covid restrictions on indoor dining), it is offering takeout, delivery and specialty meal kits

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