A no messing around guide to the coolest things to eat, drink and do in Vancouver and beyond. Community. Not clickbait.

A Sneak Peek Inside the Deliciousness of Gary’s, Opening This Week on Twelfth Avenue

Cornish hen, boudin blanc, endive, and jus at Gary’s | Photo by Scout

French-inspired ‘Gary’s‘ is set to open in the old Fiore space (1485 West 12th Avenue) this Wednesday.

It’s not often that first-timers are on track and primed to open on schedule, but Bailey Hayward and Mathew Bishop appear to have their 36-seat vision ready to go on precisely the timeline they had predicted. When I swung by over the weekend to see how things were progressing, I found tables set and food flying out of the kitchen as Chef Mathew Bishop and his team were in the throes of cooking through their opening menu, in its entirety, for a staff tasting.

Note taking and food eating at Gary’s staff tasting.

The Room

The simple decor and cream-and-black colour scheme of Gary’s lend to a soft, minimalist look without tipping into the territory of cold or formal. Place settings, complete with perfectly sized and proportioned dishware (brought over from Figgjo of Norway), have been specifically chosen to showcase the food, while understatedly elegant vases of flowers sit at strategic points in the room.  Overall, I think Gary’s has achieved the “personal, deliberate & unfussy” vibe they aim for.

A soft, minimalist look without tipping into the territory of cold or formal.

The Food

Chicken liver + foie gras pate on brioche with coronation grape jam.

The menu at Gary’s is delightfully French – tight yet well-rounded and loaded with local ingredients. I spotted a bright green salad of butterhead lettuce with bacon shallot vinaigrette and blue cheese; a colourful plate of tomatoes sitting in a charred shishito dressing with lardo ribbons and a dusting of fennel pollen; some trout; chicken liver and foie gras pate on brioche with coronation grape jam; steak tartare with potato gaufrette; pork cheek with spätzle and chanterelles; corn grits with ratatouille; an aromatic Vadouvan Mariniere with cod, fennel, potato and mussels; and Cornish hen with boudin blanc, endive, and jus; as well as chocolate mousse, creme caramel, and Tête de Moine cheese. Although I didn’t actually taste anything, I took the opportunity to enthusiastically game out a long list of things I wanted to try. For those more interested in leaving decision-making at the door, there will also be the option of handing the reigns over to the kitchen, who will sort you out with a multi-course menu for the table to pair nicely with a bottle or two from the “short, sharp and dynamic” wine list.

THE CULTURE

Gary’s | Jack Wu (stints at Hanai, Ubuntu, Kissa Tanto and The Mackenzie Room); Mathew Bishop; Co-owner, formerly the Kitchen Director for Collective Hospitality (The Mackenzie Room, Say Mercy!, Collective Goods); Ralph Cravalho (formerly the Chef de Cuisine of The Mackenzie Room, also stints at Dachi, Burdock & Co and Montreal Plaza); Brad Masciotra (formerly the Chef de Cuisine of Bar Corso and the Chef de Cuisine of Il Caminetto)

Second to the food, the thing that made the biggest impression during my visit was the kitchen atmosphere. On-site to take pictures, I initially (literally) focused my camera on Chef Bishop. However, after just a few minutes spent in the kitchen, I felt my direction shifting. Though Bishop is obviously a talented chef and one of Gary’s co-owners, I quickly realized that my assumption that this would place him at the top of the ‘hierarchy’ did not agree with what I was seeing. Instead of giving orders, I observed Bishop asking a lot of questions – about choices in garnishes, timing, and technique. His queries were about understanding and learning, not a passive aggressive way to criticize. I’m not saying all kitchens are toxic –  they aren’t. And I don’t know if it holds up under pressure, but from what I saw this dynamic created a different kind of cooking experience that looked enjoyable for the crew.  It all came together later when I asked co-owner Bailey Hayward for the team’s names and titles. “We actually don’t have the traditional positions for our kitchen team (Sous Chef, CDP, etc.),” she explained, “We want to cultivate an environment of collaboration where all kitchen team members have equal opportunity to put dishes on the menu.” So far, this strategy seems to work both on the floor and in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to re-visiting Gary’s as a diner, and experiencing the results over a long dinner with good friends.

Gary’s is closed today (Tuesday, September 26th) for a final tuning before Wednesday’s proper launch. Hours will be Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm, beginning Wednesday, September 27th. Walk-ins are welcome, but since we’re betting it will be busy, you might want to make a reservation in advance… You can do that here. In the meantime, take a closer look inside…

  • Gary's
    Gary's
  • Plating Dessert at Gary's
    Plating Dessert at Gary's
  • Phyllis' pickles at Gary's
    Phyllis' pickles at Gary's
  • Shaving Tête de Moine cheese
    Shaving Tête de Moine cheese
  • tomatoes with charred shishito dressing with lardo, fennel pollen
    tomatoes with charred shishito dressing with lardo, fennel pollen
  • Staff tasting at Gary's
    Staff tasting at Gary's
  • Hen-of-the-woods, mustard sauce, slivered onion
    Hen-of-the-woods, mustard sauce, slivered onion
  • Vadouvan Mariniere with cod, fennel, potato and mussels
    Vadouvan Mariniere with cod, fennel, potato and mussels
  • Mathew Bishop | Gary's Co-owner
    Mathew Bishop | Gary's Co-owner
  • Cornish hen, boudin blanc, endive, jus
    Cornish hen, boudin blanc, endive, jus
  • In the Kitchen at Gary's
    In the Kitchen at Gary's
  • Discussing Tête de Moine presentation
    Discussing Tête de Moine presentation
  • Pork cheek with spätzle and chanterelles
    Pork cheek with spätzle and chanterelles
  • Pork cheek with spätzle and chanterelles
    Pork cheek with spätzle and chanterelles
  • Talking service with staff
    Talking service with staff
  • Pork cheek with spätzle and chanterelles
    Pork cheek with spätzle and chanterelles
  • Mathew and Ralph in the kitchen.
    Mathew and Ralph in the kitchen.
  • Brioche toasted and having coronation grape jam applied
    Brioche toasted and having coronation grape jam applied
  • Chicken liver and foie gras pate on brioche with coronation grape jam, the grapes are from Klippers Organics in Cawston
    Chicken liver and foie gras pate on brioche with coronation grape jam, the grapes are from Klippers Organics in Cawston
  • Ralph plating hen.
    Ralph plating hen.
  • Jes, Avi, Anna, Tina, Daniel, Dylan, Bailey listening to Chef Matthew Bishop
    Jes, Avi, Anna, Tina, Daniel, Dylan, Bailey listening to Chef Matthew Bishop
  • Cooking the Hen.
    Cooking the Hen.
  • Service at Gary's
    Service at Gary's
  • Spooning pistou onto grits.
    Spooning pistou onto grits.
  • Corn grits with ratatouille, pistou, ricotta salata
    Corn grits with ratatouille, pistou, ricotta salata
  • In the kitchen at Gary's
    In the kitchen at Gary's
  • IMG_8906
  • Butterhead lettuce, with bacon shallot vinaigrette and blue cheese
    Butterhead lettuce, with bacon shallot vinaigrette and blue cheese
  • Trout with gribiche, cornichons and served with  sourdough
    Trout with gribiche, cornichons and served with sourdough
  • Bailey busy clearing...
    Bailey busy clearing...
  • Jack plating tomatoes
    Jack plating tomatoes
  • Staff tasting and note taking...
    Staff tasting and note taking...
  • In the kitchen at Gary's
    In the kitchen at Gary's
  • Small plates being composed
    Small plates being composed
  • Finishing touches.
    Finishing touches.
  • Raw beef, steak spice, tarragon mayo and gaufrette
    Raw beef, steak spice, tarragon mayo and gaufrette
  • Tartare with lattice cut chips
    Tartare with lattice cut chips
  • Ready to roll.
    Ready to roll.
  • A small but considered selection of cocktails
    A small but considered selection of cocktails
  • Staff tasting at Gary's
    Staff tasting at Gary's
  • Dinner is served
    Dinner is served
  • Collaborating in the kitchen
    Collaborating in the kitchen
  • Anna bringing stemware to the table
    Anna bringing stemware to the table
  • Bar seating at Gary's
    Bar seating at Gary's
  • Deco detail
    Deco detail
  • Bringing the grits together
    Bringing the grits together
  • Mathew Bishop
    Mathew Bishop
  • Jack with Tête de Moine cheese
    Jack with Tête de Moine cheese
  • Plating dessert
    Plating dessert
  • Dessert service at Gary's
    Dessert service at Gary's
  • Plating creme caramel, poached fruit, feuilletine crumb
    Plating creme caramel, poached fruit, feuilletine crumb
  • Chocolate Mousse
    Chocolate Mousse
  • Gary's Co-Owner Bailey Hayward
    Gary's Co-Owner Bailey Hayward

The Background


If this is the first you’re reading about Gary’s, here’s a bit of background (copied from the story I wrote about it last month):

Earlier this year, in May 2023, the duo took over the spot at 1485 West 12th Avenue (on the corner of Granville & 12th) to open ‘Gary’s‘. Who is Gary? The name was inspired by dinner parties with their Covid-era ‘safe six’ – get-togethers which they playfully referred to as ‘Gary’s Social Club’. The plan is to have that very same fun, simple, and relaxed spirit of those evenings live on at their new restaurant concept, so the name stuck. Gary’s: A nice place for nice people.

Hayward and Bishop have been hands-on with transforming their new space, which was previously home to restaurants including Star Anise, Siena, and most recently, Fiore. Though the room’s occupancy load maxes at fifty, they intend to start with just thirty-six seats (twenty-four seats in the dining room, plus eight bar stools, and four at a high-top) in order to keep things intimate. Now that the room is nearly finished, it is sparse, without feeling bare. The colour scheme – cream and black – is effortlessly elegant. As Hayward puts it, they want Gary’s to “feel personal, deliberate & unfussy; the kind of place you want to make your local, suitable-for-every-moment kind of spot.”


Gary's
Neighbourhood: West Side
1485 West 12th Ave.

Join Cafe Medina for Their One-Night-Only ‘Summer Crush’ Beer Dinner, June 13th

Although still a week out from Summer's 'official' advent, we think that there's certainly no harm done getting an early start calibrating yourself to the season by reacquainting your palate and stomach with some of its best flavours and ingredients.

New VIFF Series Celebrates a Vancouver Architecture Legend on the Big Screen

Curious to learn more about the correlation between film and our city's most famous figure in architecture? Get your answers by attending as many of the Erickson on Film programs as you can finagle.

Head to East Van for Some Community-Minded DIY Fun and Discussion, June 9th

For one-evening only, the James Black Gallery is hosting Vancouver-based art/community collective, Anartchists, for a punk-as-f*uck zine-making workshop in support of Palestine. You should definitely go!

A Look Inside ‘Lila’, Now Open on Main Street

With its innovative menu, sustainable practices, and unique ambiance, Lila brings Vancouver a fresh hit of modern Indian cuisine and a playful garden party room, perfect for a summer debut.