Mer­chant’s Work­shop

Vancouver Magazine - - Taste -

The best neigh­bour­hood restau­rants are al­most an ex­ten­sion of your own home: wel­com­ing, ca­sual and com­fort­able—all three a check, check, check for Mer­chant’s Work­shop on Com­mer­cial Drive.

Chef/owner Doug Stephen pre­sides with wife and part­ner Lindsey Mann (and an as­sist from man­ager David Back). Stephen’s pas­sion and en­thu­si­asm are ef­fer­ves­cent, bub­bling over as he chats with his guests about the Corona­tion raisins he made with Mi­lan Djord­je­vich’s grapes or the lat­est Su­per­flux beer re­lease. Orig­i­nally an oys­ter bar when it opened in 2012, the restau­rant now fea­tures a menu that has evolved to in­clude sea­sonal shar­ing plates built around lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents. Stephen’s culi­nary ex­plo­rations are

Larger plates in­clude Brant Lake Wagyu steak from Two Rivers Meats.

par­tic­u­larly ad­mirable given that his mi­nus­cule kitchen is—with­out much ex­ag­ger­a­tion—the size of a postage stamp.

Fall and win­ter dishes are rich and deca­dent: there’s chicken liver tor­chon with Corona­tion grapes, mus­tard and pick­led shal­lots atop Match­stick Café’s sour­dough, and crispy pork ter­rine served warm with cel­ery, pear, hazel­nuts and red wine vinaigrette. Larger plates in­clude Brant Lake Wagyu steak from Two Rivers Meats and lo­cal ling cod bright­ened with a pre­served-lemon­ca­per-shal­lot rel­ish.

Drinks here are no mere af­ter­thought: Stephen cre­ates the cock­tail list along­side bar man­ager Conor Roche. Clar­ity in the Gar­den will blow your mind—a lower-proof Gin Mare cock­tail with clar­i­fied tomato-and-cu­cum­ber wa­ter. Bour­bon dom­i­nates the spir­its list, with about 40 on of­fer. Reg­u­larly ro­tat­ing beers on tap shift from fresh hops to sours, while canned and bot­tled of­fer­ings show­case lo­cal craft brew­eries such as Twin Sails and Boom­box—choice sips for chill­ing to Mer­chant’s old-school hip-hop playlist.—

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