There are vegetarian restaurants that just don't have meat on the menu and serve cheese quesadillas instead and then there are vegetarian restaurants that use some real creativity and provide an experience where nothing feels like it is missing. The Arbour is one of quite a few Vancouver examples of the latter. We chose to use transit to reach their location on Main near 23rd but there is street parking available.
Not a huge dining room but certainly sharp looking. We definitely weren't too warm as they kept the front door ajar (OK, we were kind of cold and kept our jackets on for much of the time).
But as usual, we came for the food, this time vegetarian food! One of the first things our server asked us was if we had any allergies. No one had ever asked before but Mharie is allergic to flax seeds. As it happens, they use flaxseed oil to make their mayonnaise and some sauces so a good thing she asked (we are supposed to be the ones asking but sometimes we forget unless we are buying bread or at a bagelry). Anyway, that made ordering a little more complicated but that still beats the trauma of a trip to the emergency room or having to use an epi-pen.
We started with a couple of outstanding appetizers. First was the Fried Oyster (mushrooms of course) which were crispy and amazing. I have said repeatedly in this space that there is no reason that a vegetarian restaurant cannot have a deep-fryer! These were served with a creamy dill sauce that I selfishly had to myself while our server accommodated my flax allergic partner with a side of hot sauce.
Next up was Buratta. I feel like buratta as an appetizer is almost always around $20 but here was $12 so that's good. This was more than delightful with brown butter, chantarelles, capers and thyme and some crusty bread as a vehicle. Don't miss out on this.
It took a couple of tries but we were able to order the BBQ Burger without the flaxseed oil mayonnaise on the slaw. With crispy shallots, slaw, avocado and house barbeque sauce, this was a pretty good burger but the patty itself was on the dense side. In addition to lots of slaw and condiments, there was a generous helping of really good fries (couldn't order them as Togorashi style because of flaxseed oil), and a great salad of lots of arugula and sunflower seeds.
Last up was the Southern Fried Artichoke Sandwich. My mouth has been watering since the first time I read this on their menu. I will admit that in my head I saw a po-boy type sandwich spilling over with deep-fried artichoke but that is not quite what this turned out to be. The actual presence of artichoke was a little bit sparse (the photo actually represents it quite well). I understand that artichokes are quite expensive and labour intensive and the price of the sandwich is quite reasonable but somehow that part just missed the mark. Overall, it was still a pretty good sandwich with lots of slaw, avocado, cheese, jalapeno, eggplant bacon and a really good ciabatta bun. Despite my whining, I would order it again and recommend that you try it too!
Really friendly service and well-executed social distancing protocols, it's hard not to like this place for the atmosphere despite out little problems.
Food 3 1/2 out of 5
Comfort 2 1/2 out of 5 (did it have to be that cold?)
Service 4 out of 5
Value 3 1/2out of 5
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