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GASTOWN VIBE Dani Tatarin and The Keefer get in our Gastown food and drink tour because a) they’re just on the border and b) she’s just so darn good 6 & 7 ALSO: Jillian Harris 5 • Rennie Collection 8 • Timeline Boutique 11 • Writers Fest 16 • Hot Tickets 17, 18, 20 • Hallowe’en 21 Doug Shanks photo
What makes Gastown so hot?
By Marcus Kaulback
here are the obvious things that draw locals and tourists alike to Gastown: the cobbled streets, the classic heritage buildings, that delightful little statue of Gassy Jack. But there is more to this place than just the architecture. As with any good neighbourhood (and as cliché as it sounds to say it), it’s the people who make it what it is. About six years ago, the people who now define Gastown started moving in. A generation of young chefs, restaurateurs, and bartenders, schooled in various parts of the city and the world, came to the unpolished neighbourhood looking to open their own places. Rent was cheap and the buildings were beautiful, and so, unsurprisingly, it was an obvious area in which to try their hands. Nigel Springthorpe has been at Alibi Room for 14 years, and has seen Gastown change beyond recognition in that time. He agrees that the beginning of the change came about because of the opportunities, both spatially and economically, that Gastown afforded. “It seems to me that when this whole Gastown explosion thing really started to happen a few years ago, these young en-
trepreneurs saw the opportunity to take advantage of some intrinsic architectural beauty within the commercial spaces available, and it became the location of choice for young industry professionals to set up shop and go it alone.” And for the most part, they’ve succeeded. The immense majority of restaurants and cafés in Gastown today are owned and operated by those same young entrepreneurs who came here looking for the chance to open and run a place of their own. What this means is that these places embody the individuality, the passion, and the all-out commitment to quality that the owners have. With so much on the line, so much invested, both financially and personally, they truly are dedicated to ensuring that whoever walks through their doors has a positive and fulfilling experience; it’s a concern that translates into great personal service. And this is what is really at the root of Gastown’s success. Whether it’s Frankie Harrington at Meat & Bread, Paul Grunberg at L’Abattoir, Neil Ingram at Boneta, or Josh Pape at The Diamond and now Wildebeest, just to name a few, what you get from Gastown is, as Springthorpe puts it, “genuine service that comes from a place of integrity and honesty.” Andrew Morrison, editor of Scout Magazine, WE Vancouver restaurant critic and Gastown devotee, sees it that way, too. What makes the neighbourhood so special in terms of its eating and drinking establishments is the people who run them. This generation of young “foodies” and “drinkies” brings to it a casual, friendly, and passionate professionalism, which, according to Morrison, sets Gastown apart. The issue now is with the fallout of all its success; the neighbourhood has become such a coveted area for commercial real estate that the cheap rent can’t last forever. Morrison wonders whether the originals will be able to stick around when their leases come up in a few years. It’s a legitimate concern, one also voiced by Springthorpe. “Hope-
fully rental rates don’t get pushed out of the range of other young, creative industry folks also who want to make their dream of going it alone happen down here.” Gastown is real and honest and dirty and beautiful, but it is nothing if not genuine, and the restaurants, bars, and cafés that have made it the city’s premier dining destination have done so simply by embodying that authenticity.
DRINKS L’Abattoir 217 Carrall St. 604-568-1701 Its “About” page describes chef Lee Cooper and GM Paul Grunberg as “dedicated to highlighting the finer points of eating and drinking in L’Abattoir’s informed yet informal setting.” Add to that head barman Shaun Layton’s devotion to a mix of the classic and the unique, and you’re pretty much set. Layton has helmed the bar here since it opened two years ago, and his service style pervades the restaurant’s overall vibe, and even that of Gastown itself: laid back but committed to professionalism. The pride he has for his work is also very clear, as it manifests itself in the high-quality fresh ingredients, and the wide range of very unique spirits and liqueurs, that, when mixed together, produce some of the best cocktails in the city.
Jules Bistro 216 Abbott St. 604-669-0033 To properly pull it off in Gastown these days, to be respected and appreciated as an honest bar in this discerning neighbourhood, a few things have to come together: the room has to feel right, the ingredients used have to be of the highest quality, and the bartender has to know what they’re doing. Luckily for Jules, all three reside there. Beyond the weekly cocktail list from proven bartender Robert HollAllen (known around Gastown simply as H) Jules offers a very thoughtful wine list, URANT A T S E R one that seems to cover N A C I X ME all the right notes at all the right price points, $ $ 8- 10 Hearty Lunch Specials with enough variety to satisfy most everyone.
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Fa l l ʻs H e re
• • FREE Chips with 2 Deadly Salsas • FREE Refills for Soft Drinks • Sweet Menu 101 West Cordova 604.646.2444 www.lacasita.ca
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. but you can still.
s r e t s e N t a ESH
rs Market te s e N y b r o Food Flo ” Woodwards g the community of Gastown
in 50 “Proudly servbott Street •604-688-75ays 9am-8pm • Sund 333 Ab ys 9am-9pm
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October 11 – 17, 2012
62 Powell Street Gastown (604) 738 3667 Five Professional Female Artists Health Board Approved Friendly Atmosphere Boutique Style Studio email@example.com View portfolios in shop or online www.liquidambertattoo.com
The Diamond 6 Powell St., 2nd floor It’s a lovely space with a lovely view overlooking Maple Tree Square that lends itself very well to quaffing some lovely cocktails… good thing then that head barman Ron Oliver skillfully provides the latter. The bar at The Diamond is a perfect example of the whole being exactly equal to the sum of its parts, and that’s a good thing because its parts are so fine: friendly service from professional staff, combined with firstrate ingredients, and keen attention to detail and tradition. There’s little wonder then why The Diamond is where Gastown’s best bartenders happily send their own discerning customers to for one last cocktail.
discover GASTOWN Calabash Bistro 428 Carrall St. 604-568-5882 As might be expected from a Caribbean lounge, Calabash’s bar is dedicated exclusively to the region’s most pervasive spirit: rum. Boasting over 70 varieties from across the Caribbean – the largest selection anywhere in Vancouver – the bar at Calabash is unique. Complementing this “diverse and fantastic spirit” are fresh ingredients and house-made syrups, which, when mixed by head barman Jason Browne, will show you just how versatile and delicious rum can be.
of your choice. The selections on the menu are changing all the time, but always reflect what’s fresh, what’s seasonally available, and, most of all, what’s good. Come in for a full meal, or just whet the appetite with a small sampling — at Salt, the choice is yours.
The Keefer Bar 135 Keefer St. 604-688-1961 We’ve expanded our limits here from Gastown into Chinatown, just so that we could include The Keefer Bar. For those unfamiliar with its particular allures, sit back and read on, and you’ll soon understand why we couldn’t leave it out. The Keefer serves up what they call apothecary-style drinks, designed to soothe ailments and balance the drinker’s mood. Traditional Chinese medicines, sourced from right in the neighbourhood, figure largely in the house-made tinctures, bitters, syrups, and teas, and give the pre-prohibitioninfluenced cocktails flavours and health benefits not seen at other bars. And they taste gorgeous.
SMALL PLATES The Sardine Can 26 Powell St. 604-568-1350 Don’t let the name fool you… Just kidding; it’s tiny in here. The size of the space, though, is an excellent, albeit oppositional, complement to the huge flavours of the dishes here. Serving exclusively Spanish-inspired food, The Sardine Can succeeds in recreating the intimacy of countless tapas joints in the old country. Menu standouts include the lamb cheeks with raisins, capers and pine nuts, the mushrooms in a sherry-cream sauce, and basically anything they else they have ever whipped up… ever. The long and the short of it is that flights form YVR to Spain are going to be mighty empty in the future; there’s just no need to make the trip now that we’ve got the real thing right here in Gastown. Wildebeest 120 W. Hastings St. 604-687-6880 The philosophy of Gastown’s newest addition is a warm and simple one: contemporary country cooking using locally sourced food to be shared and enjoyed together. The idea is to experience many small- to medium-sized dishes — all expertly designed and created by head chef David Gunawan, formerly of West — with the rest of your table, and to collectively experience how good they are. To ensure a quality product, Gunawan works directly with local protein producers and has even developed his own menus for the animals: chickens are fed vanilla yogurt, and pigs an organic mash, while cows are given flowers, grasses, and even a splash of wine from time to time. The “gastronomically daring” results speak for themselves.
Judas Goat Taberna 27 Blood Alley 604-681-5090 Using what he learned from opening Salt, proprietor Sean Heather (The Irish Heather, Bitter, Penn Bakeshop) designed Judas Goat as a place to complement the rest of Gastown’s establishments rather than to compete with them. The idea behind the Blood Alley tapas room is that you can nip in for a quick bite, enjoy the excellent pintxos, and walk, off on your evening to experience multiple places around the neighbourhood. But nobody’s making you leave… and with a menu so good you might be convinced to stick around.
Consistency is the key to Pourhouse’s late-night success. Any night of the week you can glide through its doors and be welcomed into the warmth of its saloon-style bar, from where excellently crafted cocktails and a variety of superior craft beers are served. The mood is always inviting — with its lights turned low and its long bar invoking a sense of comfort and calm — and the food is a perfect accessory, with their Scotch egg and Pourhouse burger standing out among the rest of the equally tempting late-night menu. Boneta 12 Water St. 604-684-1844 Moving to its new location at 12 Water St. hasn’t slowed down this Gastown bigwig. If anything, the new Boneta is even more popular with the late-night crowd than it ever was on Cordova. The atmosphere, the remarkable cocktails, and of course the cast, including the everhospitable host Neil Ingram, all contribute to foster a sense of connectedness and belonging in the room. And while there, try the beef carpaccio, served with quail egg, or the proper poutine, acknowledged to be the best in the west.
Clough Club 212 Abbott St. 604-558-1581 It’s a superior cocktail den in community chock-a-block with the things, but Clough Club doesn’t deserve to be pigeonholed; the small plates it serves up are equally worth a try. Whereas most other tapas places in Gastown draw their inspiration from Iberia, France, or Italy, Donnelly’s Clough Club has looked elsewhere, to South America, for influence. This much is obvious in the crispy plantains and the quinoa fritters, two reasons why Clough Club, even with its exceptional cocktail program, appears here for its small plates.
Six Acres 203 Carrall St. 604-488-0110 For history buffs, Six Acres is housed in Vancouver’s oldest brick building, and is so named because of the size of the city’s original settlement that was born right outside of its window. Gastown. Six Acres prides itself on continuing the tradition of people coming together over food and drink, and happily serves up both until 1am Monday to Saturday. Their menu is comfortable and tasty, from the creamy mac and cheese to the steak and arugula salad, and the beer list truly inspiring. If it’s late-night in Gastown, all you have to do is look for the Gassy Jack statue, and Six Acres will do the rest.
Nicli Antica Pizzeria 62 E. Cordova St. 604-669-6985 At a time of night when most kitchens in Gastown are lights out, you can wander into Nicli and be treated to what Scout Magazine’s Andrew Morrison called “the best pizza [he’d] ever had in Vancouver.” A big part of their decision to stay open late was the realization that the cooks and servers from Gastown’s restaurants needed a place to grab a quick bite after work, and Nicli now rightfully takes pride in “feeding the staff that feed the people.” But of course you don’t have to be industry to enjoy its authentic Neapolitan pies; everyone is welcome at Gastown’s best pizza place. Pourhouse 162 Water St. 604-568-7022
Alibi Room 157 Alexander St. 604-623-3383 From 10pm on weeknights and 11pm weekends, Alibi Room switches over to its late-night menu, a listing of the simple to the decadent (not to say that something can’t be both), all of which co-owner Nigel Springthorpe is immensely proud of. From the house-marinated olives, to the mushroom and organic hazelnut pâté, to the bison cheese steak, you’ve got choices… good ones. And of course, as always with the Alibi, the beers are more than worth the walk. And if you’re up for the walk, that means you’re aiming to get there; if you’re aiming to get there, you’ve probably been before, and that means you already know they don’t sell shooters or push cheap hard liquor, just formidable beer and good, well-thought-out grub.
The SouTh eaST aSian BiSTro
Feel good about what you eat!
Salt Tasting Room 45 Blood Alley 604-633-1912 Salt is simple: the menu consists of only 10 meats, 10 cheeses, and 10 condiments, and it is up to you, with a helpful and knowledgeable nudge from the staff, to create the tasting plate
Yaletown 1128 Pacific Blvd • 604.688.8565 order online @ freshbowl.ca Gastown 360 Cambie St • 604.248.5070 October 11 – 17, 2012
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October 11 – 17, 2012
Finding vintage beauty in Gastown say that you never have to leave Gastown if you live here — we have everything.
ShopTalk By Kelsey Klassen
f heaven were a walk-in closet, it might look something like Timeline Boutique. Cordova’s newest conseignment store (in one of Gastown’s oldest buildings) knows what’s old is gold, and Amanda Cairns and Azura Cook — urban miners of the most fashionable kind — have created the perfect resting place for those pre-loved designer items that are ready to be bagged (and are possibly still tagged). While the idea of having Jimmy Choos lying around that you just can’t find a use for seems a bit unfathomable, the girls have seen a staggering amount of designer consignment flowing in, and out. And then there is the couturière upstairs. Oh, lordy! What drew you to open in Gastown? We love the energy of Gastown and the history. Koret Lofts is a heritage building that used to be a clothing manufacturer. We have the original 100-plus-year-old wood floors — when we saw the space we knew it was perfect! And we have many stylish neighbours who appreciate fashion and have incredible closets. What is it like for a business owner in that area? Gastown is always growing. There are incredible new spaces opening all the time like Vicino (owned by Nicli Pizzeria — the best pizza in the city) across the street from us, and the new Rainier Rooms deli by Sean Heather, which will open on the corner of Cordova and Carrall very soon. We love our new neighbours Rubi & Kino in their space on West Cordova, too. Next to us is Wink Beauty Lounge and they have been very welcoming of us as the new kid on the block. And Gastown.org is organizing the upcoming Shop Hop on Nov. 15 so we can celebrate fashion. Our neighbours will often
With so many great stores in a few small blocks, how do you stand out? We are the only designer consignment store that we know of in Gastown. We have great prices and many items that are absolutely new with tags. We exclusively carry the lines of Anaya handcrafted leather, Hold Your Ground eco-couture jewelry, and have an in-house couture designer, Norma Sheerin who loves to use previously loved fabric to produce couture. Norma’s line, One of a Kind, has been seen on stage and the red carpet, with clients including Sir Elton John and Cher. Norma offers complimentary custom alterations on all her gowns. She will custom dye natural fibers as well to make a truly unique piece for that special event. Now that you’ve opened, is the store fulfilling your intentions? The treasures that come in every day from our consignment clients are amazing — no appointment is needed to drop off everything from Jimmy Choo to Joie to Joe’s jeans. We are also the only company in Canada with a complimentary online login so clients can watch their consignment items sell from home and pick up their pay out money any time we are open. As one client said “You sold my Chanel jacket in three days — and I picked up the money that same day! That’s never happened for me at any other consignment store.” Your repurposing has an environmental agenda. Will you be at eco-fashion week? The Five Agency, which was involved in Eco Fashion Week last year and just completed Vancouver Fashion Week, is going to be hosting a very special event at Timeline Boutique on Oct. 13 with Ras Kasozi, the designer of Kas Wear from Uganda. What’s your favourite thing you’ve salvaged for the store? We are very grateful for the generosity of Minami in Yaletown for the use of their four mother-of-pearl chandeliers (pictured, left). They look beautiful hanging from our 17-foot loft ceiling. We also have items of the former Betsey Johnson store on Alberni Street — glass shelves, clothing racks (even a few hangers) and the Betsey Johnson welcome mat at our front door. Every fixture possible was recycled. What labels do you see lot of coming in? We carry designers labels from Robson Street to Holt Renfrew: BCBGMaxAzria, MARC by MARC JACOBS, Betsey Johnson, Citizens of Humanity, Wren, Maison Scotch, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and great jeans from Aritzia! We have constant requests for Chanel and Hermes bags — if they are collecting dust in your closet please bring them in so that we can see them off to a loving home. We also have menswear and amazing men’s accessories such as LV clutches, watches and shoes.
Azura, co-owner of Timeline Boutique, poses with a Marc Jacobs coat a customer brought in to sell. Below: Many of the fixtures for the new store were salvaged, such as the four mother-of-pearl chandeliers. Doug Shanks photo What’s your best vintage find? We had a vintage Holt Renfrew sheer dress that Norma lined and altered for a Fall wedding on a ranch. That was so special! Describe your personal style: Amanda loves elegant, contemporary style, neutral colours and stripes. I [Azura] love to dress up — the more sparkle and glamour, and the higher the heel, the better. Together we have combined our love of fashion into one closet: Timeline Boutique. If you could bring any fashion icon to an event at your store, who would it be? We would love to have Sir Elton John come visit in the jacket that Norma created for him from previously loved curtains. He wore it on stage in a performance, and we would love to have that piece hanging on our wall as a piece of fashion history. What trends will we be seeing a lot of this Fall? Our fabulous friend, Vivienne Taylor of Trend Fashion Marketing and Forecasting, gave her stamp on the peplum jackets and skirts we have in store as well as what looks like upholstery fabric for skirts, pants and jackets.
TimelineBoutique.com | 63 E Cordova
SHOP TALK BRIEF The urban cycling helmet has a new sleek, low profile design thanks to the SAHN Classic, a unisex equestrianinspired, modern silhouette with a contemporary, muted colour palette. SAHN Helmets, the Vancouverbased creators, will be holding a launch event at Walrus (3408 Cambie) on Oct. 17 from 6 to 9pm, featuring the SAHN Classic range along with the Chairman Ting limited edition. Sahn.cc
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Gastown Feature October 11, 2012