November 10, 2014
The newest venture from chef Andrey Durbach (Pied-à-Terre, La Buca) is his notion of a "progressive tavern"-which is to say, a gastropub stripped of the term's Anglocentric implications, its offerings reflective of what Vancouverites like to eat with a casual pint or glass of wine. The results will strike diners as either admirably wide-ranging or an identity crisis: British pub classics (Welsh rarebit, sausage and mash) sit alongside a selection of international greatest hits (chicken karaage, foie gras parfait, spaghetti with lobster).
The menu's unruliness may be one reason for the inconsistency in the plates. A butcher's cut steak with accompaniments ($24) is a gluttony-inducing bargain; a single slice of mushroom-topped toast, though delicious, makes no sense at $14 (but becomes more interesting again during happy hour, at half-off). Baked, stuffed mussels arrived in a pool of orange oil and landed in our guts accordingly.
The sparse room feels funereal when it isn't busy, despite the best efforts of a rollicking rock soundtrack. Durbach is one of the city's savviest restaurateurs-hopefully, he can execute the tweaks the Abbey needs.
117 W. Pender St., 604-336-7100