The restaurant is a little hard to find as it is not aligned street side. Instead a sandwich board points you in the right direction. A few steps lead into an open court yard. Plainly adorned, their white name written on their blacken window is the only indication of your reached destination. Just be sure to avoid the sapling that is idly planted in the middle of your path. Walking in without a reservation, on a Friday night, we were surprised to be seated only after 5 minutes. Though as great as this was, the minutes coming up to it were a little rocky. The host couldn’t care less if we left or stayed. By his tone, it almost felt as if he wanted us to leave. Originally he postulated that our wait would be 30 minutes for a table, of which would be spent standing in front of the entrance. The one chair in the corner did nothing to accommodate two grown women. Luckily our soon to be server was on the ball, and suggested splitting the table for four in to two for two. Good move as I was going to suggest this course of action myself. It’s hard to tell a customer that they are no seats available when they can clearly see the one empty table, less then three feet away.
With our table and the washrooms right up front, there was no need to explore the entire depth of the restaurant. From what I could see, nothing stood out more than their overhead lighting. Clusters of lightbulbs brought together to resemble a tree branch. Bulbs in place of what would be leaves. Several units hung from the ceiling in different watts and in different arrangements. Seating was available in either tables and booths. All of which were positioned closely to maximize space; indirectly allowing optimal eavesdropping of surrounding conversations. Three of the walls were windows, they allowed in daylight and the peers from the foot traffic passing by. Several coloured pieces of art hung at the forefront of a few of these windows. They resembled stain glass, in yellow, red, green, purple, and blue. At the very back of the restaurant was a greyscale print of Yaletown’s skyline. Buildings done as decals on a building.
The atmosphere was pretty casual. The staff dressed in their every day wear echoed this, pleated slacks, printed button ups and silk patterned blouses. From where we sat it gave us a look into the bustling kitchen. Here, a team of professionally dressed chefs in white smocks and clean aprons were working with a smile.
The overall space was incredibly loud, being arm’s length away from my guest didn’t make it any easier to communicate. There was the need to have our back and forth done through spurts of shouting, and illustrated through wild arm movements. Not the best place for intimate conversation.
The menu was a listing of wines and cocktails, and a page of small plates and tapas. The introduction to it spoke of the freshness in their ingredients and the timeliness of their seasonal offerings. It was all reflective of where the chefs and owners live and eat. This was the same for their carefully cultivate selection of wines. Everything was decently priced, so I was curious enough to ask how much the market price beef dish would be going for tonight. The “Cote de Boeuf” included marrows for two, and would be a worth while 50 minute wait. However at $89 a plate, we found having three bottles of wine a better option, at least for our specific needs.
As is the traditions with our girl’s nights, my guest and I choose our first bottle of the evening, “Monte Cicogna Verdicchio”. This was a light and crisp wine, likened to a “Pinot Grigio”. It went down easy and was done in no time.
“The octopus chips” were seasoned in lemon, chilli, and parsley; and a served along side a spicy aioli. You could definitely taste the lemon in each piece, it was so sharp that it made things too tart. The only way to mask this flavour was to dip generously into the spicy aioli. However the sauce definitely over powered octopus. If I hadn’t chosen it, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it was. It was soggy and salty, as it arrived onto our table cold. The coating tasted stale, and too much chewing was needed to get through each piece.
After the disappointment found in our first order, we stuck to the more traditional options of the menu. “The poutine” was hand cut fries, fresh cheese curds, and “proper gravy”. I was intrigued by what “proper gravy” would taste like. I found no difference in it, compared in the gravies I have had in poutines of the past. This was good as I worked my way down to the bottom. The gravy wasn’t too salty, and they weren’t stingy with the cheese. You can’t really go wrong with something as simple as poutine.
And as a perfect pairing with our wine we had some cheese. “Three fine cheeses with bread, crackers, candied nuts, and preserved fruits.” The presentation won me over with its colour and delicateness. The sprigs of green brought some much need colour to all the yellow and brown; and the slices of pear and the pieces of raspberry brought some fresh sweetness to an other wise savoury plate. As good as this was, each element on its own was nothing exclusively unique, or particularly difficult to assemble as a whole. I regretted ordering this after the realization that this was all something that could have been done for myself in the comfort of my own home.
Would I come back? – Yes. The night was a success. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest coming back, but wouldn’t be apposed to returning as well.
Would I recommend it? – No. There was nothing that really impressed me, nor was there anything really warranting a direct mentioning of. This was just an okay place in Yaletown. Don’t deny your cravings.