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Five Years Ago Today Inside What Would Quickly Become One of the West End’s Best Restaurants

It’s the turn of Espana in the #TBT spotlight. The Spanish restaurant at 1118 Denman St. in the West End hits a milestone today. This story was published exactly five years ago this afternoon:

Two first-time restaurateurs, Ed Perrow and chef Neil Taylor, are about to enter a new world this evening. Their eatery, the Spanish-themed Espana, opens at 5pm this evening (Thursday) on Denman. For a refresher on what’s in store for the West End, here’s what I wrote about it back in July [2012] :

“Ed Perrow, the amiable fellow who ran operations at Bin 941 & 942 during their heyday (and was recently a front of house fixture at La Brasserie, Cibo, and Uva), has partnered up with Cibo’s highly regarded and soon-to-be-former chef Neil Taylor. Together, they are opening a new, Spanish-themed restaurant called “Espana” in the old Cosca space at 1118 Denman Street.

They’ve just signed the lease on the 1220 sqft space, and aim to be serving us plenty of Spanish wines, sherries, kalimoxto, pinxtos, tapas, and classic vernacular mains like paella come this September. Espana will be a mid-sizer, just 45 seats, so bigger than The Sardine Can and smaller than La Bodega. I trust it will be better than both. They’re on a budget for decor (anticipate simplicity), but who cares when the food program will follow Taylor’s much-loved style of local, sustainable, and organic ingredients expressed simply, creatively and – one safely presumes – deliciously? Not me. They could gussy it up in duct tape and balsa wood and I’d still go.

This is, of course, excellent news for Vancouver as a whole, but it’s especially a shot in the arm to sad old Denman, which has for years suffered an even worse mentionable restaurant drought than Commercial Drive. For the last two decades – with the exception of Raincity Grill, Kingyo, and a few ramen joints, the West End high street has been an embarrassing shit show of fast food and entry-level sugar shacks (I call it “Fatassenstrasse”). It needs something like this badly.

It’s also all kinds of awesome for Perrow and Taylor. I love it whenever any industry lifer makes the move to go independent, and truly, I can’t think of any two Vancouverites who are more ready to go out on their own than these guys. They both hit the ceiling a while back, and are primed to break through.

I popped in yesterday for a peek while they were reloading after a “friends and family” dry run. The place was as nice and simple as I imagined it would be. Check the photos below for a closer look. You’ll find the menu among the photos, too (for the drinkers, the wine division is 5/5 with a couple of Cavas and several Spanish beers). Dig the mural by the gorgeous ironwood bar. It was hand-drawn in charcoal by local artist Jay Senetchko. We wish them the best for this evening, and trust that they will enjoy a long run.

This is what it looked like right before the paper came off the windows…

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