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Remembering Coal Harbour’s Short-Lived ‘High Priced Jewel Run by Amateurs’

The ever-evolving Restaurant Graveyard series looks back at the countless, long-shuttered establishments that helped to propel Vancouver’s food and drink forward. Full A-Z with maps and photos here. May they never be forgotten!

Opened on the Coal Harbour waterfront at the foot of Denman Street in late 2018, the sunny, French and Mediterranean-inspired fine dining restaurant Verre was cheffed by the talented Liam Breen. Though somewhat capable (especially in the kitchen) and undoubtedly attractive, Verre encountered the same problems suffered by others at the same address (eg. The Change, Sol Sun Belt Cookery, Bravo Bistro, Crime Lab), the most predictable being the general lack of accessibility and visibility that comes when you’re tucked away at the end of a seldom travelled cul-de-sac. This, combined with a fatal deficit of moneyed comers who prefer to be seen (and who could tell the difference between pretend and proper fine dining service), left the operation rather lost. Globe & Mail restaurant critic Alexandra Gill likely accelerated its demise when she called it “a high priced jewel run by amateurs,” but the coup de grace came with the pandemic, which mercifully claimed the restaurant at the end of its second summer.

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  • Chef Liam Breen
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Neighbourhood: West End
550 Denman St.

There are 4 comments

  1. 550 Denman wins that sad battle. It’s had several more incarnations that 850 Thurlow. I’m friends with that last chef at Verre / 550, and he said what many there before have said: the strata council was unreasonable restrictive. They couldn’t have signage – like in the windows, or an awning. They constantly had noise complaints – for bieng “too loud”, at 8pm; and were in now way going to be able to get the late night license that ‘Crime Lab’ once had back on Melville & Pender that would help business. The chef said the strata “really wanted them to succeed… just don’t be loud (ever), or have signage, or be open past 10, or, or, or…”

    850 Turlow desperately needs someone to make some cuts in the façade and join a few of those slot windows together so you can see in / out. That might make the space more attractive.

  2. I had my boat moored at that location and got to see a couple of the restaurants come and go. It was really a mystery as to why they could not make it given the location has huge foot tragedy from the sea wall and a gigantic parking lot across the street. Having a minor background in the restaurant industry I was tempted a couple times to snap it up but alas the rent was astronomical and the available seats were probably less than 60. So you really had to be firing on all cylinders to make it work financially. The dreaded Monday to Thursday is a constant issue. I always thought a Starbucks would have some chance or similar.

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