Main Street Gossip


The only consistent thing about Main Street in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver is that it’s always changing. Restaurants come and go, antique shops close down to make way for more modern ware/wear, and heritage buildings get taken over by the more financially viable, if unattractive, “Cash Money”.  Stay tuned for all the details on what’s new in our ever evolving neighbourhood!

The Gossip – Coffee and Baked Goods
Since we moved to Mount Pleasant a year and a half ago, we have seen various establishments go under, or get torn down and redeveloped, usually into more appealing venues. And often, the focus is on coffee and baked goods. And with the success of so many of these places so close together, it is obvious that Vancouverites covet their coffee and sugary treats.
Within about a year, and within seven blocks of one another, six different places opened to serve caffeinated drinks and sweet fare.  One of my top choices, Forty Ninth Parallel, is a gourmet coffee roaster with delectable donuts to boot (try the peanut butter and jelly, they are to die for). This place is always bustling with customers, so be ready to wait in line on the weekends, and to clamor for a seat. They often play their music loud, so if you’re looking for a quieter place to work, try another venue such as Gene Café or JJ Bean at 14thand Main.
French Made Baking, located on Kingsway between 8th and Broadway, is another new bakery worth a pit stop. Owned and operated by men and women who are authentically French, it is small and unassuming; and the sign does little to communicate the charm within. They specialize in the now trendy macaron, but also boast other sinful treats, such as the real pain au chocolat, layers of delicious pastry surrounding little surprises of dark chocolate. Their café au lait also merits a taste – it is rich and creamy, and begs for regular croissant dipping. Be prepared, however, for the strange hours French Made Baking keep: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. throughout the week.
Only a few stores down the block from the French bakery is La Petite Cuillère, which in many ways is an homage to typical British tea houses. Despite the oddity that an English tea house has a French name, and the French bakery an English one, La Petite Cuillere is recommended for its savoury lunches and sweet dessert offerings. Try the quiche and salad, or the pesto chicken wrap (a great to-go option), along with one of their many inspired tea options. One of the most memorable things about this place is the women who run it: they are two sisters with their mother, and they all exude kindness and positivity.
Across the street and connected to the Mount Pleasant Community Centre is the newly refurbished Pleasant Beans, a good place to stop for JJ Bean coffee after one of the many activities on offer at the centre. The coffee shop often has homemade granola bars (yum!), and also make grilled cheese (for the kiddies, but who’s kidding who, we adults love them too).
I have yet to try newest additions The Last Crumb, a mere block and a bit from Forty Ninth Parallel and JJ Bean, or Bonchaz Bakery at the corner of Main and Broadway. Although Bonchaz may be next on my list, as they offer a free muffin with coffee before 11 a.m., or so local legend claims. Let me know if you’ve tried either, and what you think!

 

Check in soon for the latest gossip on restaurants, breweries, and clothing stores in Mount Pleasant!

Seattle: What’s Good Part One

Having only recently moved to the west coast, this trip to Seattle is my first. I was told it was just a smaller version of Vancouver, but it is so very different from our city across the border. First, Seattle has a longer history than Vancouver, which means more shops, restaurants and buildings with an authentic charm from decades past. And of course, one of the most striking things about Seattle is the architecture. I think as far as a city downtown goes, Seattle is one of the finest for design.  Elements of it remind me of Boston, New York and even London, likely because of the antiquated feeling to places such as Pioneer Square.
On Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, we learned that Seattle was established in the 1850s, when settlers from out east courageously ventured west to start a new town in which to turn a profit. Its first industry was lumber, but coal and gold also became important resources before the 1900s. The tour is underground because the current city is built above the old town. After a series of city planning blunders, including building on piles of sawdust landfill and constructing 10-35 ft. town walls to help with the gravity flow of sewage disposal and to avoid high tide, the streets were covered with bricks reinforced in the shape of Roman arches. This project was inspired by the need for safety in the streets: several people fell to their deaths off the town walls, while others had heavy objects, such as cast iron stoves, fall on them from the ledge above. It was an informative and entertaining tour with guide Rick, and I would recommend it to anyone who visits Seattle. The tour is 90 minutes in length and the cost is $15.
Next thing on my list is coffee. Coffee is good in Seattle, and probably keeps much of the population not only caffeinated but in the green, as it is so readily available. No doubt, we went to the first-ever Starbuck’s store near Pike Place Market (http://www.pikeplacemarket.org/), shedding light on their popular brew called “Pike Place”. It was decent coffee, but it definitely wasn’t my top cup this trip. We enjoyed a great local brew at Melrose Market’s (http://melrosemarketseattle.com/) Homegrown Sustainable Sandwich Shop located on Capitol Hill. Also worth mentioning is their breakfast sandwich made with local ingredients and packed with flavour. The sandwich comes with a semi-runny egg topped with cheese and avocado on a massive sesame bun, with a side of warm oatmeal. At $6 this is a top economical choice for a hearty and healthy breakfast.
Finally, my best coffee in Seattle was at The Cherry Street Coffee House (http://cherryst.com/) near Pioneer Square, the original site and namesake of the café, which has now spread out to four other locales in the city because of its popularity. We were drawn to the place because of the funky neon sign (of which there are many in Seattle, giving it an authentic 1950s vibe), and were pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the food and the complex, but smooth taste of the coffee. I enjoyed a delicious lox and cream cheese bagel, with a side of tomato ginger soup. If you’re looking for a quick, affordable lunch in a comfortable setting, The Cherry Street Coffee House is a fantastic bet.
Stay tuned for more Seattle highlights, including architecture and seafood in my next blog post!