Tonight was the official date of the second annual Meet me at Gastown block party, and we were here right at the start time of 3pm for all the festivities.
We aptly began our evening at “Meet” the vegan restaurant, as it felt poetic. Here, for a small bite to fuel us for the walking ahead. I had forgotten how good their food was sans meat and dairy cheese. Vibrant and flavourful dishes all made from plants.
Starting with drinks my guest had one of their Kombuchas on tap, in the rotating peach rooibos. The flavour of the peach pops and fizzes within the fermented tea essence. It reminded me of sour beer, but without the buzz.
I on the other hand opted for one of their classic cocktails. The Pineapple Basil Smash, as recommend by our server. This was a 2oz drink that drank like juice. Gin, basil syrup, and fresh pineapple juice all shaken. To my delight, the fragrant herbaceousness of the basil comes through, turning the would be sweet cocktail into something more savoury, which better aligns with my tastes.
For food my guest wanted some noodles, and being out of the simulated shrimp for her original choice she looked to plan B. This was Meet’s Big Yum bowl, but instead of brown rice, she had it with pad Thai style rice noodles. The rest was the usual roasted yams, blanched kale, shredded red cabbage, carrots, beets, corn, tempeh, edamame, and hemp hearts. All drizzled over with their self described “super-umami” tahini sauce. What was essentially a noodle salad was delicious. A great assembly of textures brought together by a great dressing for a tasty and fun to eat serving.
I had the Whipped Feta Gnocchi. Potato gnocchi tossed in a fresh citrus herbed pesto, topped with a dollop or creamy garlic whipped feta; and garnished with Parmesan, chilli flakes, and spiced toasted pumpkin seeds. It was so fragrant with the fresh herbs, enough flavour that it didn’t have you missing any cream. I got plenty of heat from the chilli flakes, although didn’t find it all that necessary. Delicious as is.
After we wrapped up, we proceeded to explore the open streets of Gastown. On top of all retail vendors opening their doors and inviting those on the sidewalk in, the road was closed to traffic and lined with booths and exhibitors.
Many local businesses were offering discounts to mark the occasion, many more had sips the likes of wine and mocktails. And a few had samples from their skin care and apothecary brands.
Other Gastown businesses not in the immediate area had set up pop up booths prepared with freebies and entertainment. This included Greta, the arcade bar offering free rounds of classic Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, along with gift cards to visit their physical location. And local clothing store The Latest Scoop had a round of spin the wheel for prizes, as you shop their sale items.
We stopped to play some of the physical games set up on high top tables and picnic benches. Chess, checkers, crib, and even playing card decks. There was also corn hole, a large tic-tac-toe, connect four, and giant jenga.
There also street performers with feats of optical illusions, live musicians with their melodies broadcasted on speakers, and artists painting on the spot. I would take part in an impromptu dance performance, alongside three other volunteers directed by our host dressed in gold and silver metallics.
This volunteering would earn me a complimentary meal voucher from local Gastown eatery Kozak, serving traditional Ukrainian food from cabbage rolls to babka.
We ordered their Mama’s combos to be able to try a little of everything. Recommended as a well balanced lunch with three pieces of their Varenyky (Pierogies) with Kovbasa (fried Ukrainian-style sausage). Or in this case, sautéed mushrooms to make it vegan. There was also Holubets (Cabbage Roll), a seasonal salad, and two side sauces.
Then we spent the remainder of the night enjoying the live and complimentary performance put on by the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra. Performing on the main Abbott Street Stage, they garnered a large crowd and we be the ones to close out the night.
In conclusion this was an enjoyable evening getting to learn more about our local Gastown retailers, restauranteurs, performers, and service businesses. If you missed this one, be sure to stay tuned for next year’s affair.