Gastown's new Diamond is a little rough around the edges

When you hear that three of the city’s top bartenders are opening theirown digs in Gastown, the obvious reaction is to begin salivating—andabstaining—in preparation for the inevitable lush-fest to come.


The Diamond
6 Powell St.

Wednesday to Sunday: 5:30 p.m. to midnight

Signature Drink: Isadora
Signature Dish:
Pork gyoza


Rating: ***
Dinner & drinks for two: $60

When you hear that three of the city’s top bartenders are opening their own digs in Gastown, the obvious reaction is to begin salivating—and abstaining—in preparation for the inevitable lush-fest to come. When you hear that they are pairing their cocktail menu with Asian-style tapas, however, you may pause and mull before approaching with caution. Perhaps with good reason.

Located on the second floor of a heritage building, The Diamond is a nicely-renovated room of large, bright, sash windows, custom wallpaper and numerous leafy pots to break up the space. Clean, airy and attractive—despite the lack of air conditioning—it’s the perfect setting for some serious libatious [sic] experiences.

Those libations are broken into colourful categories as Boozy, Not-so-Boozy, Delicate, Exotic, etc., and each description includes what type of glass it’s served in. All drinks—and there are quite a few—top out around $10, with many in the $7 to $8 range. The use of premium hooch and fresh ingredients was clear in everything we tried, and the results are certainly never boring. An Isadora ($8) was a delicate, sweet, fresh flute, while the Buck Buck Mule ($9) was an almost-medicinal herbal concoction of cucumber, gin and what looked like banana leaf curls.

The food menu, on the other hand, is simple in the extreme, served up on a sheet of paper with blank boxes that you check with your selections. Despite the nod to dim sum restaurants the world over, it really doesn’t mesh with the scene quite as well as the drinks.

Simple items like edamame and peanuts are expected and welcome, but a Peking duck-and-chicken sub ($8), while very tasty, was too messy to go with our sophisticated cocktails and splattered and dripped all over the table. An avocado-grapefruit salad ($4) with prawns ($3) was dressed in an excellent-quality olive oil—unfortunately, almost to the point of drowning—but was noticeably short on grapefruit, while the prawns were slightly overcooked.

Rock cod ceviche was another oddity. Excellent quality, but what was it doing on an Asian-style tapa menu? Pork gyoza with fresh green onions ($5) were much more successful and actually meshed with our second round of drinks. Two soups, duck and soba noodle ($10) and lemongrass glass noodle ($8) were both very pleasant with a nice touch of heat on the back of the palate, but neither soup really came across as a drinks-friendly nosh.

One hopes that a little time will work some beneficial changes, because a cocktail list this good deserves food that will stand up to it. At the moment, the marriage of food and beverage here looks like it’s headed for a rocky divorce. And for a drinks-forward establishment such as this, that just doesn’t pour.


Finca Flichman Cabernet Sauvignon

Mendoza, Argentina is known for its Malbec production, but other varietals flourish there as well. Take Finca Flichman’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. This ruby-red quaff starts with berries and spice on the tongue and finishes with some hints of vanilla. Aged three months in oak before being transferred to the bottle, this is a great wine to pair with warm stews, grilled steaks or that terrine you’ve been wanting to try. $11.99 at BCLS.


Top Shelf

The Fifth Annual Chef Meets Grape is Back!
Tonight at 7:00 p.m., join 15 restaurants and 42 local wineries at The Westin Bayshore Hotel for the annual local food and wine pairing extravaganza. Chefs will create dishes using B.C. ingredients to match VQA wines. Vote for your favourite. Tickets $75, in support of the Ocean Wise program. Visit for more info.

Dining Out

Moon Festival Menus
From October 3 to 9, in keeping with the annual Chinese Moon Festival, Wild Rice (117 West Pender St) will be offering a special three-course moon festival menu for $35. Menu includes pumpkin and butternut squash soup, braised pork belly and steamed bun with lychee coconut ice cream. Optional wine parings $15. Call 604-642-2882 for reservations.

Riedel at Cru
On October 4, Cru Restaurant (1459 West Broadway) will be offering a Riedel glass tasting (and four-piece glassware set to take home—retail value $148) as part of a five-course dinner that will include the wines of Mission Hill Family Estate. Tickets are $150, and include glassware set to take home, dinner and wine pairings. Call 604-677-4111 for reservations and menu details.

Food in Brief
C Restaurant is now serving the first-ever tagged B.C. lingcod from local fisheries as part of their ongoing commitment to seafood sustainability. The tags allow chefs to identify the exact fishery the lingcod came from, as well as the exact fisherman and boat where it was caught.

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