Feeling (up) Blue

The greyness of Vancouver has been wearing me down, and I was in need of a quick visual pick-me-up.

The destination: Wild Rice (117 West Pender Street)

Despite ten-plus years in operation, I don’t ever recall stepping foot inside. And when I did last week I was immediately drawn to the bar. Sure, those that know me may be saying, “Of course you were,” implying my desire for all things boozy, but I am talking about the actual bar–the counter; the strip that holds one’s cocktail.

At best guess, the illuminated turquoise acrylic slab stretched for at least 25+ feet through the majority of the main floor. It was slick and glossy and oh boy, was it blue. I couldn’t keep my eyes or hands off it. You see, when something appeals to me I resort to a tactile approach to gain a fuller experience. I know, it may seem odd to some, but I am a kinesthetic learner and I indulged; I ran my hands across the top and my fingers swept the side. I knocked on it, I pinched its edges and caressed the points where the shades of turquoise faded with the intensity of the lights underneath. It really is a thing of beauty.

The bar at Wild Rice (photo by a.baye)

Some colour theorists say that the colour turquoise gives a calming yet invigorating sense and heightens levels of creativity and sensitivity. Perhaps the latter point explains how I found myself feeling up the blue bar, but I wonder why my date was in such haste to end the evening?

Pit Stop: Rangali Island, Maldives

Around and around and around we go…spinning the globe for little escape from Vancouver. This week, we have landed on Rangali Island in the Maldives.

Being a diver, I have always been drawn to the Maldives, and now, I have another reason to go. Ithaa restaurant – an acrylic arch submerged a few metres below the surface where you can dine with (and on) sea creatures. Reef fish anyone?

Gotta go or penalty kick?

I am obsessed with signs – signs with bad Engrish, signs with double meaning, and signs that make me laugh. I also have a particular fondness for pictographs. So here is to a new year with my ass back in the saddle posting one of my favourite topics.

At the corner of Smithe and Seymour at the Moda Hotel is Red Card Sports Bar. With a decent selection of beer and the multitude TVs,  it is a perfect hub for sports lovers to spend hours following a puck or ball on the big screen. There is also no doubt that the game of soccer was top of mind in the branding of this locale. So at a commercial break with a pint too many pushing on my bladder I darted through the crowd to find the loo. I stopped in front of the door and giggled. Was the picture on the door a perfect depiction of the discomfort I was feeling or was it based on the theme of soccer and a penalty kick?

Gotta go or penalty kick? (Red Card Sports Bar)

You be the judge.

Commune Cafe: First Impressions

I cannot count how many times I have passed Commune Cafe at 1002 Seymour Street, and I kept on walking. Nothing seemed to grab me. From the outside, it looked like a typical glassy and glossy Yaletown cafe. But with my new “Friday Destination lunches,” the Commune came onto the radar. It’s a quick walk from the office and a cafeteria style with a range of sandwiches (read quick and easy to have me back at the office on time) and has a wine and beer list. It met the criteria,  so off I ventured.


Sign at Commune

First glance and I loved the sign to the entrance; I believe it. It was a good reminder and a prelude for the concept of joining strangers around the long communal table that seats 16.

But for those dining alone, fear not. As you order your sandwich and are forced to wait, perhaps fidget with your solo-ness, recheck the emails you’ve already read on your iPhone or challenge the angry birds, take a closer look at your order tag.

Conversation Starters at Commune

You may just be able to break the ice and start some simple chit chat with the strangers beside you. I liked the fact that the concept of community was woven into the small order cards; trying to foster simple communication and connect people.

The decor

Overall it does resemble a Scandinavian-style showroom with white walls (a black and white mural on one), a natural wood table and floors and then the bursts of red–communist red to boot. But what appealed to me was the shape of the back of the chairs–the top bar slightly curved upwards with multiple downward rods.) The chairs were tucked into the table and I couldn’t help but see the resemblance of eight little torii (traditional Japanese gates marking the entrance to a sacred shrine) lined up.

Commun-ist red chairs

Another natural element that I fell in love with was the cork pendant lamps (all three of them) which were spaced out evenly to hang over the table. Interestingly, they are shaped like beehives – another subconscious communal touch, perhaps?

Cork pendant lamp - Commune Cafe

Cork pendant lamp - close up

The food

Three words: simple, fresh, sound. The menu isn’t overly complicated, nor are the sandwiches but Commune does claim that their ingredients are free-range, organic and locally sourced. There are soups, salads and shares, but with it being Friday, I was more inclined for a side of Canadian craft beer. For $15 I got a great Portobello Arugula Goat cheese sandwich, a small side of fresh greens and a bottle of Apricot Wheat Ale.

Portobello Arugula Goat cheese sandwich - Commune Cafe

I am glad I went back. It was a great communal Friday lunch that reshaped my perception of the sometimes stale and void-of-character(s) Yaletown locales. And not only did I kick my ass for not coming sooner, I found out what the last concert my colleagues went to and who sleeps in the nude (conversation starter 26, I believe.)

Restaurant by Marques Houston

No matter how tempting it is to go a place off the beach, where the dolphins are so close they could eat my food, I think for the time being I’ll just “keep it hood”; or at least keep it in my hood.

Upcoming features: Taxi Cafe, Commune Cafe, and Corner Suite Bistro.

An Interlude at the Keefer

Cold and snowy had been the Vancouver forecast as of late so when The Keefer Bar (@thekeeferbar) tweeted, “The streets are clear, and we’ve got a fire to warm your hands and whiskey to warm your belly,” I knew a jaunt to 135 Keefer Street was in order.

Fire pit at the Keefer Bar

I love sitting a patio. Period. And if I can do that in late November surrounded by a warmth manufactured by propane heaters, a fire pit, and some whiskey, hand’s down, I am in. The Keefer’s patio, unlike it’s summer version of  deuces and fours around small tables,  is now set with eight chairs circling the fire pit.  Pillows shield your butt from the coolness of the metal the chairs, lanterns added touches of warmth and the awning protects you from the typical winter drizzle. It is a perfect protected and cozy outdoor escape.

Sitting around a fire pit conjures up memories straight out of my childhood cottage life, and to fully indulge in a childhood interlude in this city, I knew there would be one thing missing…


All it took was a bit of preparation and the vision was complete. Armed with a bag of Jet Puffs and a twig from a neighbouring tree, a popular camping/backyard tradition had gone urbane.

As a sidenote: my companion and I agreed that both the Rosemary Gimlet and the Silk Road pairs quite nicely with the molten gooey blobs.

Pit Stop: A Dining Womb

How cool is this?

Dining Womb by architect John Lum (Photo by Shae Rocco) for DIFFA's Dining by Design

With the temperature dropping in the city, there is not much incentive to leave the warm glow of the TV and fleecy PJs to hit the streets in search of some sustenance. However, with a room like this, I may just forget the chicken soup on the stove and don something less synthetic.

Forget the impracticalities like how the middle person will have to have the outside diners shimmy down and out so they can go to the powder room or even how the server could possibly refill wine glasses. Sure the laser-cut cardboard may not be terribly spill-friendly, but this room is cozy and I couldn’t imagine a better place to hunker down and snuggle up with 19 of my friends.

For the curious:

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