“Eat Well + Caffeinate Often” – Take Five
While I’ve only been to a few Take Five Cafés around Vancouver, I do like the uniqueness of each one. The café tries not to be pretentious while serving some excellent small-batch roasted coffee, sweets, and sandwich fare. I was pleasantly surprised last week to enter the newest of their 10 cafés, right in the heart of Gastown.
This eatery focuses on local interior designers and one of a kind furnishings from old Vancouver haunts.
A large round table with chairs around it greets guests as they enter. Hooks to hang up jackets and umbrellas, as well as a reading rack on the opposite wall, make for a friendly stop without the rush. Let’s face it, now that Vancouver’s entered its rainy season, there’s nothing like a large window looking out at the wet streets, together with the warmth and comfort of a hot drink. With industrial style influences and materials that pay tribute to the neighbourhood, this location combines “the best of the west coast and a little bit of italian heritage”.
Raw structural concrete walls and floors along with white italian marble countertops, while blackened hot-rolled steel shelving and quarter cut European white oak wall paneling provide the backdrop. Michael Thonet’s timeless café Era chairs intersperse the space with the concrete communal round table anchoring the entry.
As well, table bases and small tool drawers have been upcycled and refinished from recently closed Astorino’s on Commercial and Venables. Astorino’s was a well known and loved classic style Italian catering and banquet hall. That round grey concrete table in the photo weighs 900 pounds. The large light fixture above it is made of spun metal and was crafted by local lighting artist Ian Marsh.
Industrial Restoration Hardware light fixtures outline the banquette seating area along with classic schoolhouse and Edison bulb pendants lighting up the coffee bar. A glistening gloss black La Marzocco espresso machine contrasts elegantly against the adjacent calcatta ondulata white marble countertop and concrete masonry block wall.
Antipastos, salads (the quinoa is terrific), paninis, and pastas round out a wine and beer-friendly menu.
In fact an entire menu is dedicated to reds, rosé, whites, bubbles and sweet wines. A selection of craft beers (sold by the bottle) is also on hand, including Deschutes Mirror Pond Ale, one of my favourite brews.
Three 2 oz wine taster flights ($15) are chosen by staff to pair with your food selection.
You can put together a plate of five items from the antipasti/meat/cheese menu for $12, or let the experts at Take Five put something together for you instead. Several olive sorts, marinated veggies, salamis and prosciuttos, along with Italian and Spanish cheeses are on the menu.
Herbs from Gino’s backyard go into the mix, making for a true locally-sourced menu.
At our media preview, we sampled from the range of menu offerings. Not to be outdone by savoury eats, the desserts came out as well, one more tasty than the next. The S’mores brownie has toasted marshmallow topping that adds the traditional smokiness of a campfire to the rich chocolate and graham cracker crust (all desserts on the current menu are $2.75).
Coffees are selected by a master roaster who seeks out origin mills from around the globe. There’s an in-house sommelier who ensures that the 1,500 chemical substances found in coffee are well balanced and meet Take Five’s standards. In other words, these guys are serious about the coffee they brew and serve!
Along with my desserts, I ordered an Americano misto and was happy to see a small biscotti accompany the drink. Most (if not all) cafés in Europe serve coffee and tea with a small sweet, either a piece of chocolate or a cookie. There aren’t many cafés in Vancouver that have caught on to this lovely touch, so I was glad to see Take Five do so. This one will serve as a great stop in between evening events or for a healthy lunch.
Take Five Gastown is located at 62 West Cordova Street (at Abbott) and is open from Monday to Sunday, 7 am to 7 pm.