I recall my first and previously only visit here over four years ago. Then it was 2010 and I was working my way through “Vancouver Magazine’s 101 tastes to try”. So when fellow Vancouverite, food blogger, and daily diner, “Miss Vancouver Piggy” chose this as our lunching destination I was more than happy to oblige for nostalgia sake. Therefore this blog post is written with her insights as well as my own. And this is what happens when two indecisive people try picking a restaurant; we came together for our love of food, after considering 10 other restaurants before it.
The shop was as I remembered homey and full of warmth. Between the rickety nature of the tables and chairs, and the squeak in every floor board you could tell things were well lived in. Faded and stained with wear, tear, and age; the place felt like it possessed a lot of history and could tell you a tale or two. Vintage decor pieces set the stage, scattered for a visual feast. A washed out mint green cabinet housed missed matched porcelain tea sets, to be looked at and not used. A couple of space heaters painted once over in burgundy kept the place warm, not that today’s weather needed it. A gold leaf mirror and a miniature shelf of nature’s collectables hung on a peeling wall. Both were sewn with vines and wild green growth, they decorated an otherwise empty space. And worn books and texts sat on display with fallen spines and loose pages. The low hum of folk songs playing over head matched the casual vibe of the place.
The large floor to ceiling windows out front, and the carefully staged seating allowed us to fully maximize the sun’s heat. We played a little musical chairs, moving from table to table until the one we desired became free. Here, seated on top of a narrow step up stage we were on display in the cafe’s window. Seated to enjoy and serve as an in motion ad. This was the case with two other strategically set seats. I deemed them the best seats in the house with an eagle eye view.
With fresh carnations on each table top and help yourself jugs of flavoured water this made for a nice setting to linger at. Lemon wedges and cucumber slices swimming in chilled waters. A cultivated friendly and forgiving environment with help gathered from genuine staff. They didn’t pressure the speed in which you ate, they didn’t insist on bussing a table still being used, and they brought your orders right to you. The waxy parchment that each baguette sat on was used as a placemat. It allowed for easy cleanup and kept tables relatively crumb free. Just as well, seeing that as soon as a table freed up a new party came to claim it. This was done without a once over with a damp rag in between. Though with the rotation of patrons ever moving, today’s majority seemed to be taking their baguettes bundled up and tied up with butcher’s twine, to go. So lining up for a seat went without a challenge. Thought snacking midday on a Monday isn’t exactly peak time.
After claiming our choice table with jackets on seats, we headed to the front cash to order. Here the menu is presented in script written on black boards with white chalk. Everything was conveyed between a series of rectangular and squared gold frames. Distinguishing between breakfast options; baguettes, their fillings, and add ons; salads; cheese plates; and drinks. With many opportunities to customize and build your perfect sandwich or salad. Salads being similar to the baguettes, but with more greens and the bread on the side.
You leave your name and wait for your sandwich to be crafted. This is done quickly with nibble hands. A wonder how, considering the need of four women squeezing all into the one slim space. This cramped kitchen workspace was visible just past the counter. Here herb filled jars lined a shelf; a cappuccino machine stood on point; and where possible, kitchen equipment hung in reach but just out of the way. All the bread used came from a basket of what looked like fresh loaves, and the tomatoes from a bundle still on vine. After tasting things it all seemed as fresh as their imagine portrayed them to be.
Seeing as tea was in their title I choose one from their sign of “new teas”. “Cherry blossom green tea”. Though in hind sight, with the direct sun shining on us, and the sweating of my brow, a hot tea might not have been ideal. This tea was more scent than taste. With hints of floral wafting to my nostrils before I gingerly took a sip.
Usually I enjoy a soup with my sandwich and today’s “Tomato basil soup” on the side would have been my number one pick. But as was the case with the tea, it was just too hot out for soup.
As I did four years ago, I went with their most popular selection and the one mentioned on “Vancouver Magazine’s 101 tastes”: “Pear, blue Brie, prosciutto, walnuts, oil and vinegar”. This was one of the pricer options and given its unique composition, well worth it. Hearty with coarsely chopped walnuts, a little sweet from the balsamic and refreshing pair, and rich with Brie speckled in blue. I could have used a little caramelization and toasting in the walnuts. And didn’t get any of that distinctive blue cheese pungent-ness, although it was very present visually. This is the type of sandwich best served as it was, assembled fresh and eaten at room temperature.
We chose to try our second choice last, fearing that its bolder ingredients and heightened seasonings would outshine the milder baguette before it. This was by recommendation of the clerk, who was more than happy to oblige us with her option. She spoke with a sparkle and described this as her favourite, and a complete contrast to our order before. It was convincing enough to have me agreeing. “Gypsy salami, lettuce, tomato, and pesto mayo”. With the addition of applewood smoked cheddar. This was a more traditional sandwich. Salty with folds of cured meat, rich and smokey from the chewy cheddar, and fresh from the generous greens. I picked on the absence of promised pesto in my mayo, and the fact the mayo was positioned on the bread next to the lettuce. This made the vegetable soggy and would have been better paired with the meat instead.
Being very environmental friendly they ask you to not use take out cups and sleeves unless necessary. And being a small business, ask you via sign to consider paying in cash as appose to debit. A way to help them with the high fees attached to carded forms of payment. I appreciated their honesty and was obliged to help.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Out of all the sandwiches places I prefer “Finch’s”. They offer unique blends and successful balances of sweet and salty, chewy and crunchy. A grown up artisan sandwich shoppe. My fellow foodblogger and I left satisfied and agree this would be a positive review. However as memorable as this visit was, I would shy away from visiting during peak times. With limited meter parking and the potential of a line through the door I would approach Friday lunch or weekday brunch with much hesitation. Don’t deny your cravings.
To read “Miss Vancouver Piggy’s” review of “Finch’s” on our blogger’s date click HERE.