The Wallflower Modern Diner
2420 Main St.
Open Daily: 11:30 a.m. to late
Signature Drink: Wine or juice, your choice…
Signature Dish: Wallflower Burger
Dinner & drinks for two: Less than $50
It doesn’t really look like a diner when you walk through the door. Of course, that could be because this space used to be Aurora Bistro, and the new proprietors have kept the renos to a minimum. The newly expanded bar and hand-drawn flowers on one wall (they’re wallflowers—gedditt?) add nice homey touches to an already attractive room.
The service doesn’t feel diner-ish, either. It’s too friendly, too knowledgeable and the servers just look too sharp in their cool I-don’t-dress-for-work gear.
The menu is what gives it away. Burgers get top billing, along with numerous house specials like ribs, pot pie and roast chicken—all ring in around $15 or less and include salad, fries, etc. There’s even a Wallflower patty, which is a beef/pork combination made on the premises. And the portions are definitely diner-sized…no trucker will ever be hungry again.
The French onion soup ($6) is served in a bowl that looks like it came from the painted tin set my grandmother owned back in Russia. The presentation isn’t fancy, but you can’t argue with a pound of shredded caramelized onions in a dark, slightly salty broth, covered with thick, soaked-through bread and melted mozzarella.
Duck spring rolls were less impressive ($9). Only one good bite of duck before you were left with shredded greens and way too much deep-fried batter—some of which was too hard to bite through. My Canuck burger ($12) with the house patty was very good, lots of mushrooms and bacon, but the side of fries had a certain McCain’s quality that left most of them sitting on the plate. My friend’s yam fries, on the other hand, were so yummy I didn’t care if they were frozen or fresh, as long as I was able to steal at least half.
A second visit included some of the wraps -- well, it is called a modern diner. A shrimp, bacon and avocado wrap ($9) was enormous, tasty and was that a bunch of side stripe I just ate? A chicken pesto version ($9) was just as large and almost as good. A starter of Maui ribs ($10) was excellent and it’s also available as a dinner special. Curried crab and apple cakes ($9), however, were disappointing. Not enough apple and overcooked crab—not that you could taste much of it, thanks to that overbearing curry sitting on the palate.
Yes, there’s room for improvement, but I left both times feeling strangely satisfied and happy. It could have been the four pounds of comfort food I scarfed down, or the pleasingly small total on my bills, but, in my not-so-humble opinion, the Wallflower is one diner that stands out from the crowd.
The Many Sides of Pinot: Pinotage
You’ll be reading a fair bit about Pinot varieties over the next few weeks, as we get closer to wine fest time. First off the bat, Pinotage, a red wine grape originally bred in South Africa, where it is the signature variety. Here in B.C., Inniskillin’s Discovery Series includes a slightly spicy Pinotage that boasts a heavy palate of red fruit, with a nose of cherry, raspberry and prune. A few layers of toasted vanilla lead the nose to a nice finish. Match with rich pastas, braised meats or savoury stews. Thirty dollars at BCLS.
Time to Wine
The 31st Annual Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival takes place this year from March 23-29. More than 1600 wines, 183 wineries, 15 countries and 61 events. British Columbia is the theme region and Pinot the featured varietal. Get tickets and info at playhousewinefest.com.
No Dine-Out Here
For those select few looking to escape the madness that is Dine Out, here are some of the restaurants sticking to business as usual: Chambar (562 Beatty St), Fuel (1944 West 4 Ave), Campagnolo (1020 Main St), La Brasserie (1091 Davie St), Les Faux Bourgeois (663 East 15 Ave) and Restaurant Connor Butler (2145 Granville St).
Prix Fixe in Peace
While many restaurants are not officially doing Dine Out, they are offering various prix fixe options, in the $30 to $40 range, until the end of the month. Ones to try: Cibo Trattoria (900 Seymour St), Senova (1864 West 57 Ave), Chow (3121 Granville St) and Mon Bella Bistoria (1809 West 1 Ave).
Food in Brief
EC Raphael Gonzalez of Yew Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel has been transferred to Philadelphia. Chef Oliver Beckert, formerly of the Four Seasons Resort in Lana’i, will be stepping in.
Andre McGillivray has amicably parted ways with Jeremie Bastien, Mark Brand and Neil Ingram, and is no longer one of the owners of Boneta. On a more positive note, Boneta’s guests helped raise more than $1700 for the Food Bank in December.