The Lowdown on Crosstown

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Crosstown is cosily nestled between Downtown, Gastown, and Chinatown - AKA at the epicentre of all things good in Vancouver's city centre. It's also home to a selection of the city's best warehouse loft conversions, with some dating back to the early 1900's. You'll also find some amazing eateries, bars, and cafes along Beatty St, which is why we took it upon ourselves to showcase a few of the area's finest establishments.


First up was The Dirty Apron - part cooking school, part delicatessen, part catering company, part retailer - and in their own words, "Canada's most exciting culinary playground". A statement that we find hard to disagree with.

Being a typical cold and wet March day in Vancouver, we were eager to warm up, dry off, and fill our bellies. Lucky for us, we came to the right place. The Dirty Apron features an amazing selection of sandwiches, hot dishes, salads and soups that are sure to please both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. After much deliberation (and with much restraint to prevent ourselves from ordering everything on the menu), we decided on a grilled Albacore Tuna sandwich, the soup of the day - a Manhattan Chowder featuring smoked Sablefish and Arctic Char, and the feature salad with brussel sprouts, thai basil, cilantro, sesame seeds and siracha honey lime dressing. Spoiler alert - everything was amazing. The salad (known even to have converted the non-brussel sprout lovers among us) was tangy and earthy, the soup flavourful and hearty, and the Albacore Tuna sandwich as delicious as it sounds.

Seeing as we regularly curate some of Vancouver's most lust-worthy loft spaces, we would be remiss not to enjoy our lunch in the historic dining room which features exposed brick walls, expansive heritage windows, fresh flowers, vintage chandeliers, and a gorgeous live-edge communal table (if you've been to our office, you'll know that we have an affinity for timber tables of the communal variety ourselves). In other words, if our dream heritage loft met a chic dining space, it would look like this. 

There's also a a specialty coffee bar with artian snacks and treats, a frozen section, charcuterie accoutrement, specialty ingredients like olive oil and preserves and kitchen tools. You can even pick up a bouquet here to brighten yours (or someone else's) day! All of the Delicatessen offerings are available to take-out as well. 

While we were there, we also had the good fortune of chatting to owner and head chef David Roberston, who was kind enough to let us poke out heads into the cooking school as the kitchen was testing a new brunch class. He and his wife Sara opened up shop in 2009, and since then have enjoyed teaching the culinary arts to 10,000 students each year, with classes typically being sold out 1-3 months in advance. Classes are also popular among the corporate, banking, and film crowds, who regularly book out the school for staff events, client appreciation, and more. 

The Dirty Apron is also involved in several community initiatives, works with a number of local charities, and has started a mentorship program for the students of the Downtown Eastside's Admiral Seymour Elementary School. In our humble opinion, there's nothing better than seeing a small local business giving back to their community, so to Chef David and his team we say, keep doing what you're doing!

If you've ever walked by 556 Beatty St between the hours of 8am-3pm and wondered why there were throngs of people milling around outside (in our case, in the pouring rain), you can thank Jam Cafe. This eclectic spot originally opened up shop in Victoria before expanding to a second location here in Crosstown. Renowned for its massive (and extremely delicious) portions, one thing's for sure - you definitely won't be leaving hungry. After paying our dues in the line up, we were seated at a cozy booth and were immediately enamoured by the exposed brick, industrial piping, and the timber beams running along the ceiling - we instantly felt right at home. 

Now, let's talk menu. On offer is an amazing selection of breakfast classics and not-so-classics, ranging from fried chicken french toast, to red velvet pancakes, to pork belly eggs benny. Whether you're looking for sweet, savory, or a bit of both, Jam Cafe has you covered.  We ultimately decided to share the Charlie Bowl on the recommendation of our server, which is loaded with crumbled biscuit, hash browns, ham, bacon, corn salsa, peas, green onions, cheddar cheese and sausage gravy with two sunny side eggs. In a word - wow. It was as amazing as it sounds. We also got a peek of the mountain of chicken n' waffles and pulled pork pancakes being enjoyed by the table next to us. We will definitely be back to try more soon. 


Would any feature on Crosstown be complete without a shout-out to the iconic Chambar? We think not! This upscale locale is widely known as one of the best fine-dining spots in the city, and for good reason. Having won an array of awards for its cuisine, wine, service and design Chambar has certainly earned its reputation as the best of the best.

Housed in a beautifully converted heritage space, the interior is clad with beautiful timber beams and ceilings, exquisite artwork, breathtaking light fixtures, and more. In the summer, you can enjoy the beautiful patio complete with greenery and string lights set along the gorgeous exterior brickwork. Serving up Belgian inspired cuisine with a North African influence, everything on the menu from the brunch offerings to dinner entrees look undeniably delicious. Plus, there's an extensive Belgian beer list, a killer cocktail menu, and beautiful bar area making this a great late-night date spot as well. We were, albeit, a little bit full by the time we arrived, but that didn't stop us from enjoying their signature blue cheese poutine. Served up skillet-style with Roquefort blue cheese, an amazing peppercorn infused gravy, and piled high with green onion, parsley, and vincotto, this is the crème de la crème of all things poutine. 

Any favourite Crosstown spots that you'd like to see covered? Give us a shout and let us know!

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photos by: Brook Ewert