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Dear Gus: Vancouver’s Most Adorable Wine Bar?

New Vancouver Bar: Dear Gus (Owner Rachel Lee) | Photo by Michelle Sproule for Scout Magazine

If you’re walking along Quebec Street between 4th and 5th Avenue, you can’t miss Dear Gus Snack Bar: the warm glow of the modestly sized 550-square-foot restaurant radiates through a shock of cobalt blue painted window frames lighting up the sidewalk. The new edition to Mount Pleasant stands out like a beautifully inviting and decidedly European anomaly on a block of big builds and minimalist design.

Owner and first-time restaurateur, Rachel Lee, picked up the keys to the space in May of 2023. After searching MANY spots and neighbourhoods, Mount Pleasant seemed like the perfect place to land – close to all the Main Street and Olympic Village action but located on a fairly quiet street, nonetheless. On a visceral level, too, the location – surrounded by breweries and other wine bars – felt like a natural fit for Lee.

At just 18 seats – six along the kitchen-facing bar, two at a high-top flip-down table on the east wall, and 10 split between a mix of two- and four-tops – Dear Gus is technically on the small side, but it doesn’t feel it, thanks to high ceilings and full-length windows running the length of the space, opening the room and connecting it to life on the street.

Although I’ve yet to sit down at one of Dear Gus’s coveted seats for a bite and a glass of wine, I have seen the menu, and it sure reads nicely! Think, a rotating selection of European-inspired small plates, such as daily cheese and charcuterie boards; oysters with pomegranate chilli vinaigrette; an endive & Manchego situation; anchovies with cashew ajo blanco; Pil Pil prawns; mussels in a saffron tomato broth; ricotta gnocchi with wild mushrooms; and some pork belly with sherry glaze. When I do swing by to give it a try, I do not doubt that all will be on point, as Head Chef Jorge Tuane (coming via AnnaLena, who know a thing or two about food) and General Manager Tom da Cruz (jumping across Main Street, from Bar Susu) make a solid team.

The wine list is pretty cool, too, thanks to wine consultant, Nabila Lalani (from Amo Vino). It features an interesting lineup of European pours (primarily Italian, but also French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Austrian), all available by the glass and bottle. A fortified wine section is a nice added touch – the perfect end to a night of gastronomical and oenological debauchery. And, if you swing by between 4-5pm, you can get in on the aperitivo menu: glasses for $9, a half carafe for $25, amaro or vermouth spritzes for $10, and $10 off of all bottles.

When I dropped by the restaurant earlier this week, staff were preparing to open doors to friends and family. At the time, I asked Lee how she was feeling about the realization of her vision for Dear Gus, and what she wanted guests to experience when they came through the doors. She explained: “I want people to feel like they stepped into a local neighbourhood spot in Europe, where everyone knows each other and knows the staff by name. I want people to feel comfortable and cozy and not feel pressured to know about fancy wine. Our wine list is very accessible and non-pretentious, all at a very good price point so that you can try multiple glasses. It seemed as though very few places in Vancouver were providing a place where someone could just sit at the bar and have a glass and some cheese by themselves and feel completely at ease. I wanted to provide that.”

If this is the first you’re hearing of Dear Gus, bring yourself up to speed with a read-through of our story from earlier this summer here.

Swing by for a glass of wine and to say `hello` to the team when Dear Gus officially opens its doors on Friday, December 8th. (Hours will be Tuesday to Thursday, 4-10pm; Friday & Saturday, 4-11pm; closed Sunday & Monday.) Until then, have a look at the photo gallery below for a hint of what to expect…

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Dear Gus Snack Bar
Neighbourhood: Mt. Pleasant
2040 Quebec St.

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