Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Give Me Some Elbow Room Please!

I recently had a good friend of mine from out of town come and stay with me for a few nights. He used to live in Vancouver, in fact, we went to elementary school together. In just a few short years, we will have know each other four decades—yikes! Naturally, when past Vancouverites come back here to play, they want to visit some of their old haunts in this gorgeous and somewhat unique city. David had a few requests of sights to see and places to go, but the one thing that was on his “must do” list was to have breakfast at The Elbow Room...and as soon as he said it, my face lit up.

It all started with two gentlemen (dare I say), Patrick Savoie and Brian Searle, who created a bustling little restaurant with delicious food at reasonable prices. About 13 years after they opened in 1983, they moved to their new location, on Davie St. between Seymour and Richards, with their loyal customer base in tow, still serving up delicious feasts for breakfast and lunch as they did 30 years ago. I hadn’t been there since the late 80‘s / early 90’s when it was will over on Jervis St. in the heritage building (it was the first mayor of Vancouver’s house incidentally), so I was all over the idea.

So why so much fuss over The Elbow Room? How is this restaurant any different than the rest, and, why would David absolutely NEED to go there? Let me tell you why: they are the only place where outside of having a fantastic meal, you will have the most fun getting some friendly abuse from your server AND you can give it back as well. The menu is peppered with clues that this is somewhat of a unique dining experience, and if you don’t get the clues, you’ll figure it out soon enough via the witty servers or with Patrick and Brian (just an FYI, Patrick is the bigger trouble-maker of the two).

My first experience was in the late 80’s when as soon as you walked through the door, you were told to find yourself a table, get your own coffee, and if you didn’t eat your ENTIRE plate of food, you had to make a donation to the charity they supported. Fair enough—I can manage finding a seat and coffee, but finishing a gigantic breakfast pancake that was the size of my wall clock at home was a little challenging. Yes, I did ante-up a little cash in the end, but all for a good cause. Besides, what’s a small donation when you can have a delish meal AND have all this amazing free entertainment? I also got a full-on mocking in front of the whole restaurant because I couldn’t finish my monstrosity of a pancake—naturally, they went with “What’s a matter, it’s too big for you?”. Yep. ‘Cause that’s how they roll.

Flash back to modern day, and David and I gleefully (meaning we may have skipped from the car to the restaurant) made our way into the restaurant that fateful Sunday morning. Being the popular place it is, you can expect you may have to wait a tad for a table, but we lucked out that morning. Immediately, we were engulfed with the hustle and bustle of the servers while taking in the ample nostalgia on the walls. The hostess was gracious, and happily seated us, letting us know our server would be along any moment. We sat down and all I remember saying to David was, “What the hell is this? How come she was so nice? Are we in the right place?”. So the server comes along (she was actually a really cool girl as is all the staff there), and she’s all pleasant and stuff, she takes our order then walks away…and my jaw is on the ground. I came here to be insulted g*d-damn it! And I am older now and I can dish it out WAY better than when I was in my 20’s!

Brian, one of the owners, was the person who brought us our food, which was to die for by the way—I had the French toast—huge and delicious.  He put our plates down with a smile and says he will bring me some syrup. David could see me seething—I just couldn’t take the niceties anymore, so when he came back, I said in a loud, stern tone, “Well it took you long enough old man”. He paused for a moment, and came right back at me basically telling me to stuff it, but in a more direct, non-PG kind of way. AH-HA! Finally, the restaurant I know and love! Well, it just went from there. Then the server got in on it, and others tables around us too—although, I may have inadvertently scared a few people who did not catch on to the gist of how this place works.

If you have not been yet, I would highly recommend a visit—it’s very addictive. You will have a great experience and support a local restaurant that will make you a wonderful meal at a good price, with plenty of friendly abuse thrown in for good measure, if you so please. The main reason they are tops in my book? For their long standing, generous support to A Loving Spoonful, and for truly believing that no one with AIDS should ever go hungry.

In the end, David and I had a blast while eating a fabulous breakfast (that I did finish this time but I still made a donation anyway), throwing around friendly insults and frightening other patrons—now that’s a breakfast!


No comments:

Post a Comment