Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Oakwood in Kitsilano

Joe's Grill. Sophie's. Zen. Sunshine Diner. Jethro's Fine Grub.

I've pretty much exhausted the breakfast places in my hood. Therefore, when I am free for breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday I try to seek-out a unique brunch spot. I haven't been to this space since it changed over from Tatlow's but read a lot of great reviews on Yelp and was intrigued by their brunch menu. They have a small number of brunch items, but they represent a good balance of flavours and options: short ribs and fried eggs, lumberjack, house-brined corned beef hash...

My pops ordered the mascarpone-stuffed french (intentionally not capitalizing this!) toast, and I had the short ribs. The french toast was crispy, and the sweet cheese filling ensured that the interior was moist (I hate this word, but I have to use it here) and flavourful. The over-easy eggs and lean short ribs were stacked on top of a crispy latke, and these heavy ingredients were counterbalanced with a small tomato-frisee salad. The portion sizes were perfect too. 

I have a few trivial criticisms. First, their dinner menu contains a dictionary sidebar with terms used in their dish descriptions. I find this pretentious and unnecessary. Second, the layout fails in the feng shui department. Containing booths, banquettes, a bar, and an awkward longtable, the interior design has no flow and made me feel kind of anxious.

I should also mention that the service and craft beers on tap were impressive. While it is a bit far to be my "local" I will definitely give this place a try some evening. I have always wanted an alternative to the worn and uber-casual Darby's, and now I have one!

Keywords: "Vancouver brunch", "Alex Dawkins", "Oakwood Bistro"

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cranmer + Gray Exhibition

Heart Sutra Mask, Phil Gray
Courtesy of Coastal Peoples

There is a dramatic divide between Northwest Coast Native art from the north of the province and from the south of the province. While each culture in British Columbia creates work with distinctive styles and figures, the formline design and colours used by the Coast Salish, Kwakwaka'wakw, and Nuu-chah-nulth are easily identifiable and entirely unique. In certain forms and genres, creative objects from these southern groups have little, if nothing, in common with art from up north. Coastal Peoples' current Cranmer + Gray show features two young artists who epitomize their respective cultures when it comes to artistic output. Kevin Cranmer's Kwakwaka'wakw pieces can barely contain all of the bright colours and salmon-trouthead elements packed into them. They are busy, extremely detailed, and animated. Phil Gray's pieces, in contrast, are subdued in colour, unconventional, and stress the bold formline design that has become a trademark of Tsimshian artwork. While I prefer Northwest Coast Native art that fuses classic design with experimental elements, one cannot help but marvel at Kevin's inlays and precise execution. Phil is only 29, and Kevin is 45...both artists have hit their stride and are arguably creating the best work of their lives right now.

I have a mask, pendant, and bentwood box by Phil. I went to this show because I love his work and know him pretty well, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed viewing his work in contrast to Kevin's. In terms of Aboriginal Art, the Northwest Coast of North America cannot be beat! This show is on until August 2nd. If you miss it, you can always see a broad selection of Phil's work at Lattimer Gallery

Warning: Coastal Peoples releases items as they sell, which is an unconventional and irritating approach. Due to this exhibition method, not all items included in the show and on the website are in the actual gallery!