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Vancouver's Worst Addresses


Coop
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I vote for the place inhabited by the Ordinary. In the past it was The Sierra, the Sonoma and Coco's. Probably missed a few. Close second the room where Vintropolis is. Another candidate would be the Cafe de Paris although the name remains the same there seems to be a new owner every year.

I hate to mention the room that is now Parkside. It was a Czech place and then Delilah's and then Zeb's.

Edited by Coop (log)

David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

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The locales as mentioned are all poor but anywhere that's upstairs takes the cake in this town.

By upstairs I mean more than 4 steps-it's pitiful but people here will not ascend staircases to eat-or even shop.

Honourable mention to the strip mall SW corner of 1st & Rupert-might as well be the moon. :wacko:

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The locales as mentioned are all poor but anywhere that's upstairs takes the cake in this town.

By upstairs I mean more than 4 steps-it's pitiful but people here will not ascend staircases to eat-or even shop.

Case in point: strip mall on West 4th Avenue at Cypress, northwest corner. The upstairs space that is now a gym had many previous restaurant incarnations including The Soft Rock Cafe. :blink:

One contrary example, however, would be Won More Szechuan upstairs on Denman at Davie. Pepitas in the neighbouring space didn't fare as well.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Coop,

The premises where Bis Moreno is located consecutively kamikazied Massimo’s, Café Milano, Étoile (Andrey Durbach before he travelled the world and then opened Parkside), Zinfandel (originally "Zinfandel's", until the proprietor realized that there probably was no Mr. Zinfandel) and then a Greek joint that sounded like a herbal dandruff remedy. As I recall it performed near heroic feats with green bell peppers (the Kelly Bundy of the pepper family), but even that was to no avail.

Compounding the misery of this location was the torture associated with the owner being forced to watch the noisy arrival of Bentleys and 600SEL's across the street at Il Giardino. Indeed, Yvonne and I ate at Zinfandel one night when the valet parkers jockeying Umberto's carriage trade precisely numbered the patrons where we were dining: us.

C Restaurant, which has obviously settled in for a good long run, also occupies premises that spun frequently--one of Janice Lotzkar's piscine inventions, Starfish et al. Interestingly, the space is owned by another restaurateur.

Vintropolis represents an interesting case lesson for restaurant landlords and their tenants. The former restaurant space, before being split into wine bar and wine store, was simply too large and too expensive to support a neighbourhood restaurant. So Carpaccio's (apparently there was a Mr. Carpaccio, perhaps in the black market skin graft trade), Sienna, then another that escapes me, and then that briefly lived Indian joint--each died unpleasantly. (The Sienna proprietors had an acrimonious falling out. Bill Wright left to start Gramercy Grill; Gerald Tritt the Vera's chain). But the change in the liquor legislation two years ago has boosted the chances for wine bars--let's hope others follow suit in the podia of new condo towers.

Lesson learned? Any time your rent consistently creeps over 12% or so, fall on your chef's knife and get it over with quickly.

It might also be interesting in this thread to turn the tables and ask what landmark venues we would like to see occupied by restaurateurs more overjoyed about their F&B program than their good luck in snagging an extraordinary view/footfall traffic/centre ice location etc? In other words, if the foregoing were the underdogs, just who are the undeserving?

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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The locales as mentioned are all poor but anywhere that's upstairs takes the cake in this town.

By upstairs I mean more than 4 steps-it's pitiful but people here will not ascend staircases to eat-or even shop.

Honourable mention to the strip mall SW corner of 1st & Rupert-might as well be the moon. :wacko:

I don't agree with Sam's premise regarding second storey premises.

Two of the very highest grossing rooms in the province, Joe Fortes and CinCin, are only accessible by staircase. There are several other long run examples, such as Earls on Top and Yoshi, peppered down Robson/Denman. Schezuan Chonquing on Broadway is a successful mid-town example, as, for that matter, is Tojo's. On Granville Island, Bridge's remains a popular dining room, but for more dramatic evidence, simply look at the runaway success of Sandbar, whose popular patio is two long staircases ascendant.

Condiments of the season,

Jamie

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Sam had suggested that no one wants to go upstairs to dine but that seems to work for several restaurants on Robson, most notably Cin Cin.

As for undeserving, how about Salmon House on the Hill or for that matter most restaurants with a view - Monk's, Teahouse recently reborn as the Sequoia. I would love to take visitors to places where the view gets competition from the food but I'm hard pressed to think of somewhere that qualifies.

Other bad locations - 41st and Granville - several Chinese and sushi joints have failed.

Cheers,

Karole

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I don't agree with Sam's premise regarding second storey premises.

Two of the very highest grossing rooms in the province, Joe Fortes and CinCin, are only accessible by staircase.

Jamie

While I do agree with Cin Cin's (I worked there for 5 years), I do have to correct you on Joe Fortes. The main floor ( referred to as "The Bistro")has no stairs whatsoever. You do have 3-4stairs to access the next level and considerably more to access the rooftop garden. Also,the entrance is on street level, so even if there were some stairs once inside, it would still be a ground level entry.

The spaces that gets my vote are;

- The spot just down the street from O'Douls on the South side of Robson. It has been at least 6 retaurants in the past 5 years

- Bute street between Robson & Alberni. It now houses the presentation center for the Sangri-La but before that, a fruit store and before that at least 4 restauarants in the past 5 years.

Derek

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My second posting - I feel like a pro already.

I think the deadest zone is the corner of Nelson and Hornby (I think) - where the urban buffet is.  I can't how many restaurants have cycled through there - Chicago Pizza, Chinese Buffet, BBQ's...

Being so close to that site I can give you the reason - you are going 50 km when you by it. No one ever looks up and just zooms by. I am shocked the Buffet has lasted this long

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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I don't agree with Sam's premise regarding second storey premises.

Two of the very highest grossing rooms in the province, Joe Fortes and CinCin, are only accessible by staircase.

Jamie

While I do agree with Cin Cin's (I worked there for 5 years), I do have to correct you on Joe Fortes. The main floor ( referred to as "The Bistro")has no stairs whatsoever. You do have 3-4stairs to access the next level and considerably more to access the rooftop garden. Also,the entrance is on street level, so even if there were some stairs once inside, it would still be a ground level entry.

Over Christmas I stayed on the side of a Mexican cliff. The restaurant was 12 storeys above the beach and there was no elevator. Today I can proudly tell you that I have the calves of a Latvian speed skater.

And yes, I climbed to the restaurant, to quote Sir Edmund, because it was there. And that was after a solid shift at El Beach Bar at sea level, where El Happy Hora began precisely at four and ended, amidst much acrimony, vaguely at eight, leading me to believe that there's no such thing as a truly happy hora.

Never one to split hairs though winegeek, let alone levels, I'd warrant that more gross comes off the top of those staircases alone (upstairs dining room and roof garden) at Joe Fortes than at 75%+ of the restaurants in Vancouver. But perhaps we should let Chef Fowke weigh in on that one! It must have been interesting for you greeting out-of-breath plutocrats at Cin Cin for so long. Which leads me to a point of further disagreement (albeit a modest one) with Mr. Salmon. I don't for a minute think that the maddening crowds of Robson Street 'push people upstairs'. Rather, I believe that it's the smell of the forno that surely pulls pilgrims like me upstairs. In my books, Cin Cin ranks No. 1 on the city's Best Smeller list.

The real point of the story, though, arguing against a flawed thesis, is that Vancouverites are actually quite a vertiginous lot and will scale heights if there's the promise of a decent idea, a good meal or a strong brand at the top of the beanstalk. Hey, doesn't Pepita's (Kits) just go to show ya? :shock::biggrin:

As for some of the ill-conceived concepts that failed along the midtown stripe of West Broadway? In my opinion they had much less to do with restaurateuring as with an uncommon commonality: bad vision, a retraction of Chinese dining, and, in some instances, just rank ignorance of the market.

But look at the ones that work. Interestingly, the odd scrum of Rugby Beach Club, Tojo's and Szechuan Chonquing, amongst others, have survived and even flourished largely for the same reasons: reasonable rents as a percentage of sales, a strong brand (albeit for entirely different reasons), and perceived value for money (albeit on different scales).

And remember, if you try really hard, as in the case of Moustache Cafe for instance, you can run just about anything into the ground.

From the ground level.

Cheers, and thanks for adding to the discussion,

Jamie

But let's move past this red herring now. What restaurants do you think don't deserve their locations?

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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My second posting - I feel like a pro already.

I think the deadest zone is the corner of Nelson and Hornby (I think) - where the urban buffet is.  I can't how many restaurants have cycled through there - Chicago Pizza, Chinese Buffet, BBQ's...

Being so close to that site I can give you the reason - you are going 50 km when you by it. No one ever looks up and just zooms by. I am shocked the Buffet has lasted this long

I always brake for buffets.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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But let's move past this red herring now. What restaurants do you think don't deserve their locations?

They all deserve their sites, the fact that we would rather see Cru occupy the SandBar site is a great notion except I really doubt that Cru could maintain its standards at 250+ seats. The simple fact is restaurateurs who have prime sites usually have obscenely high leases which mean big dollars and thus maybe not the cuisine standards we would like to see.

Also the simple fact of a prime site doesn't guarantee success - just ask the partners at The BeachHouse at Dundarave Pier.

All that being said I don't think The BoatHouse at English Bay deserves its site- the long lamented English Bay Cafe at least aspired to some cuisine and service standards (Julio Gonzalez Pirrini was the sous chef in the early '80's) and EBC was a money maker but the effort required to maintain the standards was too much I guess.

''Wine is a beverage to enjoy with your meal, with good conversation, if it's too expensive all you talk about is the wine.'' Bill Bowers - The Captain's Tavern, Miami

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I'd say that collectively, the restaurants on Granville Island cruise on location rather than cuisine. They'd be my vote for the biggest underachievers in the city. If I had to single one out, it'd be Bridges. I've always wanted that place to be far better than it is.

I don't know how much play this topic will get, isn't the whole point of being an e-gulleter having the ability to avoid the underachievers?

Actually, scratch everything above. I know the worst restaurant in the city, bar none. I am a somewhat frequent guest due to my job, and going there becuase it's either where the client wants to go, or the party picking up the cheque. The worst restaurant in the city is...drum roll...The Brew House at GM Place. Ungodly bad Sysco-esque inspired cuisine, at a price that could have seen you eat at West. Like paying fourty bucks for a ten dollar Aussie shiraz? Like 30 dollar prime rib cooked to resemble burnt leather? Want an appetizer where without exception, everything is deep fried, with the exception of the clam chowder, which deserves a thread of it's own? You'll love this place. Plus, you can get a seven dollar beer in a plastic cup!

Hands down, the most egregious offender in the category Vancouver restaurant that slides by on its' location alone.

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Actually, scratch everything above. I know the worst restaurant in the city, bar none. I am a somewhat frequent guest due to my job, and going there becuase it's either where the client wants to go, or the party picking up the cheque. The worst restaurant in the city is...drum roll...The Brew House at GM Place. Ungodly bad Sysco-esque inspired cuisine, at a price that could have seen you eat at West. Like paying fourty bucks for a ten dollar Aussie shiraz? Like 30 dollar prime rib cooked to resemble burnt leather? Want an appetizer where without exception, everything is deep fried, with the exception of the clam chowder, which deserves a thread of it's own? You'll love this place. Plus, you can get a seven dollar beer in a plastic cup!

Hands down, the most egregious offender in the category Vancouver restaurant that slides by on its' location alone.

Ha!

I'd happily eat there, though, if it would bring back my Canucks.

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Ugh! I was late for work because of egullet and now and doing this at work. Gotta type fast.

There are always locations that I wish had better restaraunts in them (ie Steamworks in Gastown). But for the most part - Vancouverites will separate location from great food. I took my god-children to the Flying Beaver in Richmond - the food was middling but the kids loved watching float planes take off and land and the river scenery was really fantastic. So I give Bridges, Monk McQueen's, et al a bit of break. I don't pretend I am going for food when I am at those places.

What don't understand is why the downtown hotels don't take more advantage of their locations. I am sure Showcase at the Marriot could do a great take out trade on the curry lunches (whomever designed that room should be shot). Also - I wish Griffin's (is it still around - I just returned from living overseas) was better - as it stands now, the food tastes like banquet over-runs and yet the location could be so much more.

But as for good food - I will really go out of my way to hunt it down. Thanks to e-gullet - I am going to try a kolachy very soon - very excited considering the enthusiasm it has generated here.

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