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The EATBUZZ. café

|Vancouver| I

t seems that we're in for a significant slow down in the number of restaurant openings this year. If 2007 brought in over a 100 new establishments to Vancouver, I would be surprised if 2008 saw a third of that number arrive. Several of these are on our radar. Finally, hopefully, maybe, Voya should finally later this month, barring disaster. It'll lie at the foot of the Loden Vancouver, a new boutique hotel that has had a few construction setbacks (they're a year behind schedule). The chef will be MarcAndre Choquette, Rob Feenie's former chef de cuisine at Lumiere, widely thought to have been indispensable in Feenie's rise to prominence (hence the anticipation). Also in hotel news, sleek little Moda has been quietly going about preparations for a wine, cheese, and charcuterie bar (no name yet) that will likely open just before this issue hits the streets. The hotel has brought in a brigade of new staff, and to run the show they've picked up one of the city's hottest front of house commodities in Sebastien Le Goff, formerly the GM and sommelier at Lumiere and Feenies (quite the well spring training ground for top drawer BC restaurants). There is still no news as to what Rob Feenie will do next, but there are plenty of rumours making the rounds, one seeing him move to the Okanagan, one that sees him in the employ of the Cactus Club chain, and another that has him in the new convention center on the waterfront. The people behind Chambar have opened Cafe Medina right next door together with long-time Chambar server Robbie Kane. A first pass saw delicious Liege waffles with a variety of toppings including lavender chocolate, spiced caramel, and berry compote - all delicious. Lots of brick and plenty of room. Folks on laptops drinking quality coffee, a perfect fit for Crosstown loft livers and tech workers. Demolition has now begun on the Glowbal Group's new under $20 Kitsilano trattoria on West 4th (still without a

name), and they hope to open this May. In Yaletown, Blue Water Cafe's new private room was a huge hit over the holiday season, and bar manager Ron Oliver is off to Kentucky this Spring to teach the locals how to make cocktails using Bourbon. Down the street, the Hamilton Street Grill closed for a few days in January and opened with a lovely new bar. Just a block away, Tequila Kitchen opened and then quickly closed. The owners of the Mexican restaurant plan to retool the room, concept, and menu, and they aim to be back online this month. In Gastown, the Lamplighter has reopened after a redesign by pub czars Donnelly Hospitality Management (think pool tables, an obscene number of televisions, and grog). The owners of Boneta were able to extend their lease and can stay for a few more years at 1 West Cordova (they were originally only supposed to be in the old One Restaurant & Lounge space for a year, when the building was scheduled for redevelopment). As noted in this issue's Sean Heather feature on page 34, the date for the Irish Heather move across the street has been pushed back to June (for plan details, visit their blog at newheather.blogspot.com), while in Blood Alley, Salt Tasting Room's new private room (aka Salt Cellar) is now open for functions. In South Granville, British chef Warren Geraghty has been appointed the executive chef at West Restaurant. He replaces David Hawksworth who is moving on to open a room of his own in the revamped Hotel Georgia downtown (opening 2009). Also downtown, there's a new executive chef at Robson's CinCin: Francois Gagnon is in while Mark Perrier is out. Chris Gonzales, formerly of Villa Del Lupo and a jolly fine food writer, has joined the CinCin team too, as one of the managers. On the North Shore, chef Julio Gonzales-Perini left the Beach House to redesign Sciué's menus and help them expand from West Hastings into Yaletown. This 2nd location will come later this month across from Urban Fare. It's clear it won't be a banner year new restaurants opening up every three or four days. But perhaps some breathing room to digest the glut that 2007 delivered is just what we need. With Dine Out and the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival now behind us, the local food scene can relax just long enough to enjoy the coming of patio season, when the circle of restaurant life begins anew. —Andrew Morrison

PINKYS CONT’D> On the wall above the open kitchen window, ten feet of bright dressing room lights spelled out the word ROCKSTAR. It's not uncommon for me to find myself in the middle of a Much Music set (as I dream of a second career as an Assistant Grip), but the youth of it all, punctuated by the impossibly sculpted decolletage of the perky staff and the greatest hits soundtrack (both trying so hard not to annoy anyone), almost proved intoxicating (again, not a male staff member visible, save for the chefs and the management). Enter the oldies menu: cheese toast, coconut prawns, 1000 Island soaked salad, onion rings, and several modes of steak from teriyaki sirloin and whiskey medallions to organic rib eye and porterhouse, all edible standards at very reasonable prices. Imagination sits at nil. Some of it was quite tasty, even the superbly soggy chili nachos, but it's more of an upscale diner than it is a downscale steakhouse, the kind of place Betty and Veronica would use to cruise for dates just a step up from Archie and Jughead. Fun, to be certain, and very well put together, but still somehow lacking in the soul and fire department like the rest of the chains (there is a second location opening on Kitsilano's West 4th Avenue). Pinkys might have a slight stink of ubiquity about it, but it's still too soon to know how strong their Febreeze is. If the crowded room is any indication, it's extra strength. feedback@eatmagazine.ca

www.eatmagazine.ca MARCH | APRIL 2008

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EAT Magazine | Issue 12-02  

Celebrating the Food & Wine of British Columbia

EAT Magazine | Issue 12-02  

Celebrating the Food & Wine of British Columbia

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