Vancouver Sun

SUNNY BRUNCH

- MIA STAINSBY mia.stainsby@shaw.ca twitter.com/miastainsb­y instagram.com/miastainsb­y

Hunnybee is welcoming

To the Winnie The Pooh impersonat­or who crept into a Strathcona yard, stealing honey and destroying the hive in the process: shame! The hive was tended by Matthew Senecal and Sean Cunningham, owners of the recently opened Hunnybee Bruncheone­tte and the more establishe­d restaurant, the Birds and the Beets.

Now, they don’t use homegrown honey for dishes like the honey yogurt they serve with their house-made granola.

“The colonies were three years old,” says Senecal. “For the first two years, it’s a modest yield, but this year we expected a more decent yield. It’s totally mindboggli­ng that it happened.”

So instead, they use honey from local producer, Hives for Humanity, with hives in different Vancouver locations.

“Depending on where it’s from, they taste dramatical­ly different,” says Senecal.

Honey from the Commercial Drive neighbourh­ood is plummy while honey from Strathcona is floral, he says.

Hunnybee Bruncheone­tte, as you would expect, is a breakfast and lunch restaurant with a sunny, welcoming atmosphere. It has a simple and healthy menu listing about a dozen items including breakfast sandwiches, rose and coconut muesli, poached egg and avocado toast, ricotta pancakes, labneh and lemon curd on sourdough.

Breads (sourdough, focaccia and milk buns) are made at the Birds and the Beets kitchen. Specials often feature toast with toppings such as house-cured salmon and capers.

When I stopped by for lunch, I loved the shakshuka ($12, two perfectly poached eggs over tomato stew with lentils and house-made labneh) with focaccia. The stew was lively with herbs and spices.

The Big Green Salad ($11) was packed with nutrition. Roasted squash, beetroot and potatoes joined with tomatoes, grain, pickled zucchini and a light herb dressing.

These healthy options were licence to have dessert. There’s a small selection of baked goods including cookies, muffins, sourdough cinnamon buns and sometimes, bread pudding.

My husband’s lamb sandwich ($12, dukkah marinated lamb, harissa yogurt, marinated zucchini, roasted red peppers and greens) was bright and flavourful and served between slabs of fresh focaccia.

The cortado (Spain’s less foamy cappuccino) was very good, too.

“The emphasis is on simple things we make ourselves. We don’t make a big deal of it being local or sustainabl­e. We don’t have gimmicks, the food’s not showy,” says Senecal.

But there are some nice pirouettes like the whipped egg whites in the ricotta pancakes for an airy liftoff and the all of the house-made ingredient­s.

It might not be front and centre, especially on weekdays, but the Hunnybee serves alcoholic cocktails and spritzes.

At night, from Wednesday to Saturday, it morphs into a cocktail-focused restaurant. It’s operated by Tyson Davies, who formerly ran the bar at Bao

Bei. The night-shift operation parallels what happens at the Birds and the Beets, where every evening, the Juice Bar pop-up invents itself regularly, with guest chefs like David Gunawan, Ernesto Gomez and others sometimes expressing themselves through very different recipes from what they serve in their restaurant­s.

Melanie Witt, of Savio Volpe, for instance, took a break from Italian to cook Indonesian one night.

At Soap, however, the food program is much more focused, usually with Asian dumplings by Shelome Bouvette of Chicha Peruvian restaurant.

Hunnybee and Soap add to the colourful food happenings in the Chinatown/Strathcona neighbourh­ood, where Senecal and Cunningham have lived for nine years.

“For better or worse, we’ve seen the change from when fellow cooks and young artists lived in cheaper apartments,” says Senecal.

Yes, in that time, the old Chinatown has slowly eroded, but many interestin­g independen­t restaurant­s have opened, including Bao Bei, Harvest House, Juke, Sai Woo, Virtuous Pie, Ramen Butcher, the Union, Juniper, Fat Mao, Rhinofish Noodle Bar, Dalina, Kokomo Cafe, Kissa Tanto, the Keefer Bar and the Pie Shoppe.

Meanwhile, Chinatown BBQ is a wonderful homage to the old Chinese restaurant­s.

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 ?? PHOTOS: MIA STAINSBY ?? The Hunnybee Bruncheone­tte serves up breakfast and lunch in a sunny, welcoming atmosphere.
PHOTOS: MIA STAINSBY The Hunnybee Bruncheone­tte serves up breakfast and lunch in a sunny, welcoming atmosphere.
 ??  ?? The shakshuka — two poached eggs over tomato stew with lentils and house-made labneh — is lively with herbs and spices.
The shakshuka — two poached eggs over tomato stew with lentils and house-made labneh — is lively with herbs and spices.
 ??  ?? Served between slabs of fresh focaccia, the Hunnybee Bruncheone­tte’s lamb sandwich is bright and flavourful.
Served between slabs of fresh focaccia, the Hunnybee Bruncheone­tte’s lamb sandwich is bright and flavourful.

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