More than 40 local businesses enjoyed a tour of 4 great local restaurants in the DTES after work last week and from the feedback we’ve been getting this is probably a model we’ll be replicating! Bitter, Calabash, Potluck Cafe and Wild Rice were all hosts for the evening and at each location either the owner or general manager/executive director shared the history behind the concept for the restaurant and some of their thoughts about the area and operating a business here. It was fascinating to hear each of their presentations, and the food and drinks were absolutely delicious. LocoBC and Hastings Crossing members had a chance to mingle and network and enjoy the food, drinks and great stories from each presenter.
Some interesting facts about each location:
Calabash – You gotta fight, for your right, to paaaarty... The untimely passing of MC Adam Yauch has saddened many of us who were so influenced by the Beastie Boys growing up, but Yauch would no doubt be proud of Calabash Bistro who recently won a longstanding point of contention with the City over their patrons’ freedom to dance in the downstairs of the restaurant. This beautiful and cozy space that has been designed for interaction and fun and that’s exactly what members of locoBC and HxBIA enjoyed using it for this past Tuesday. The food and cocktails alone there make me want to dance!
Bitter– Vancouver has a long and storied history as a beer town and Bitter celebrates this tradition in fine form. The historic building in which this great after work social hub has emerged has been maintained beautifully so that the old beams, bricks and original tiling are all exposed. The window on the Hastings side has been frosted or printed with an image of how the street looked nearly 100 years ago in that exact location. Showcasing a great selection of local and regional micro-brews, including a special batch created for Bitter by R&B, the menu has been crafted to compliment beer with delicious scotched eggs, cured meats and pickled delights.
Potluck Cafe And Catering– while it was the catering side of Potluck being showcased this night, it was the cafe itself that was packed and lively. From a small grassroots beginning Potluck has emerged as a catering staple of Vancouver and through its success has provided over 300,000 free community meals in the DTES in the past 10 years. They make a mean green apple martini which I’d wager doesn’t get served at too many office lunch meetings.
Wild Rice– Andrew Wong was way ahead of the curve in two ways. He was one of the first restaurateurs in the DTES to take a chance on the area when it was still in relative decline, actually Chinatown in particular had seen an outflow of businesses and residents to the suburbs at the turn of the century when Wild Rice established itself as a destination restaurant. This was before Chambar, before the Keefer Hotel or Bao Bei, before most of the great restaurants that have since caught on opened here. Andrew was an early adopter or a first mover as we say, and for that the whole food scene owes him some props. Secondly, Wild Rice bought local, sustainable and seasonal before it was cool, and well before it was the norm. For this too they deserve credit for leading the charge. After a decade of success the food is as delicious as always and the cocktails refreshing and they keep on racking up the awards!
Here are some pics from the night.
Mike Mitchell shares the history that inspired the concept of Bitter Tasting Room and points out the amazing features of the room
Dark and Stormy, so delicious. You’ve got to try one next time you’re at Calabash!