After our first foray to Tap and Barrel at the former Olympic Village (1 Athletes' Way, 604-685-2223), we're convinced that Daniel Frankel has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. And for nailing the Next Big Thing-wine on tap
It was Frankel, a decade ago, who was the first to convince the park board that the time was right to depart from the traditional Stanley Park model of formal dining and allow him to open his Mill Marine Bistro, with a light menu and beer on tap in newly developed Coal Harbour.
Now Frankel's Daniel Group has pulled the wraps off his latest baby, which looks set to become the prime anchor for the Athletes' Village development on False Creek's southeast reach, and a surefire lure for lovers of local liquids.
On the pubbish menu, they've everything from a delicious, giant pretzel with a trio of dips (including chipotle, peanut butter and bacon jelly, $8) to 7 oz. AAA Alberta beef burgers and made-to-order wood-stone fired "pies" (a.k.a. pizzas) made with freshly tossed dough and some creative twists-such as roasted pork belly and soft poached eggs ($16) or local wild mushrooms with arugula ($15).
Also on offer, "drunken" mussels and some seriously out there tastes such as "sticky" yam fries with marshmallow fluff. Don't knock it till you've tried it.
"Ultimately, it's all about comfort food kept simple with good ingredients," says Frankel, who has tried to echo the local theme as much as possible.
When he first looked at the post Olympic plans, the restaurateur says he wasn't convinced. But five years later he's shaped this latest exploit as his flagship, with another T&B planned for next spring at Jack Poole Plaza.
On a warm summer night early in the week, the distinctive red chairs are much in demand on the spacious upstairs and downstairs patios, with their breathtaking vistas of the downtown skyline. Not to mention an array of efficient heaters to ward of the West Coast chill.
On the potables side, it's all about B.C. On the lower level, taps (both beer and wine) are in abundance, with 24 craft beers ranging from the more esoteric, such as Crannog's Gael's Blood potato ale or Parallel 49's Watermelon Witbier to Howe Sound's well-hopped Devil's Elbow IPA and Driftwood Farmhand Pale Ale.
Upstairs, it's all about wine, with the barrel theme more apparent, highlighted by 14 drops on tap-the largest offering of tap wines in the city to-date-with the likes of Okanagan Crushpad Gamay, a Laughing Stock Sauvignon Blanc, Blasted Church Hatfield's Fuse and Clos du Soleil Rosé.
Frankel says the inspiration to go big with wine on tap came from New York, where it's been a reality for some time. Add to that the environmentally friendly aspect and the decision to focus on quality Okanagan producers, and it's easy to see why Tap and Barrel is enjoying such early success. The volume of wine and beer being poured has surprised even Frankel, who says he also never realized dragon boaters have such a formidable thirst for beer.
Inside, the decor is cleverly "found" industrial, with all manner of reclaimed signs, cogs and pieces of mill equipment. Even the table legs are repurposed steel eye-beams while artwork from B.C. luminaries such as Chris Woods and Peter Kiss adorns the walls.
The owner says it's important for him to be first in the neighbourhood and he was gratified on the first day open to see new neighbours getting acquainted and putting tables together. "Because that," as he says, "is what hospitality's all about."