Homer Street Café and Bar
We have been feeling a bit uninspired by the dining choices in the downtown core as of late, which is why Homer Street Café and Bar is such a welcome newcomer to the area. We visited this recent addition to Yaletown and were very pleasantly surprised by their refined home-style menu which focuses on preparing classic, simple dishes elegantly. Chef Marc-André Choquette who was formerly Executive Chef at the much lauded and terribly missed Lumière restaurant recently helmed Tableau Bar Bistro at the Loden Hotel and that establishment’s French-inspired, bistro feel carries over to the Homer Street Café with truly satisfying results.
Chicken headlines Homer Street Café’s menu. Roasted in a large, shiny red Rotisol Grande Flamme Olympia rotisserie which originates from France, it’s the only one of its kind installed in a Canadian restaurant and can hold up to 36 free-range, organic, house-brined birds at once. It’s quite the sight to behold. Besides chicken which is arrives with traditional accompaniments like baby potatoes, jus and a mustard-flavoured coleslaw, there are daily specials too–the rotisserie may feature pork, beef, lamb or fish. While a quarter of a chicken is priced at $18, a whole roasted chicken at $32 is a great value for a shared meal and between two, you’ll likely go home with leftovers, especially when you load up on family-style sides such as buttered peas and carrots. The tender meat was roasted to perfection and kept moist under a crispy, browned skin. We ordered the green leaf salad as an accompaniment (instead of as a starter) and it was a refreshing addition to our plate; composed of just the freshest leaves, cucumber and tomato it doesn’t break any new ground but reminds us of the plain salads served without fanfare throughout France. Gently dressed with just the right amount of tangy cider honey vinaigrette, it was simple and delicious.
We returned the next evening for drinks after work and it suits this purpose well with tapas-style snacks that pair perfectly with a glass of wine. Lots of reasonably priced bottles make up their wine list and the waitress explained that their sommelier spent considerable time making selections off the beaten track to ensure great flavour while retaining value. Their whites are dominated by dry offerings; their Douro Blend from Portugal was a clean, crisp, light option optimal for a hot summer evening. The chickpea dip is beautifully presented: topped with crunchy fried whole chickpeas and served with root vegetable chips it is a generous serving and we ordered extra focaccia to polish it off. The fried chorizo and peppers served in a small cast iron skillet, was a savoury treat with the sausage imparting its oily, spicy flavour to the softened red and green peppers and onions. We also ordered a three-item cheese and charcuterie plate and while the quality of the offerings is high, the portions were quite restrained. We enjoyed our snacks and drinks on the covered patio which feels like an extension of the interior space with a terra cotta tile floor and a plush banquette–it’s a comfortable little oasis in the city.
While many new eateries aside from the big chain restaurants that dominate Vancouver seem to be put together on a shoestring budget, the first thing you’ll notice when you walk into this expansive restaurant is the timeless but contemporary design that feels, for lack of a better word, expensive. The designers have revelled in the textures and patterns of the materials they have employed–dark leather banquettes, a pressed tin ceiling, the patterned mosaic tile floor, a marble-clad open kitchen and marble table tops–to offer visual interest and create an upscale but somehow relaxed feel, recalling the casual elegance of the cafés of Paris. Bridging the historic Homer Building and the new Beasley condominium, they have thoughtfully conjoined the two rooms to give a large but cozy feel all at once. The open concept kitchen gives one of the spaces a lively, bustling energy but be forewarned: it’s not the place for a quiet, romantic dinner à deux.
We finished off our meal with a delectable chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream, cocoa nibs, Maldon sea salt and honeycomb; the savoury grains of salt were the perfect foil to the rich and subtly sweet chocolate. This classic childhood favourite, served with a grown-up twist exemplifies Homer Street Café’s philosophy: this sense of reviving classics, refining them and giving them a contemporary makeover runs throughout their operations with simply delicious results.