Restaurant bars offer matchmaking on tap
Jamie Switch lets out a groan at the mere mention of pickup lines. As head bartender at Glowbal Grill & Satay Bar (1079 Mainland Street), he really has heard them all. “A one-liner is not the best way to go,” he cautions. His advice? Avoid the cheese and simply introduce yourself.
If you’re shy and need a wingperson, staff are there to play Cupid. “We make a point of introducing people to others,” he says over the phone.
Switch gives the example of a man who had been divorced for about a year and seemed to be crying out for matchmaking. Strategically placing eligible ladies in nearby bar seats did the trick. “We kept on putting people his way, and now he’s been seeing one person for a year,” Switch says.
Switch recommends staying away from secluded restaurant tables if you’re aiming to meet someone. At Glowbal, sit at the bar or one of the glowing cube tables where groups of diners sit cheek to cheek and invariably start talking. As well, there’s the connected AFTERglow lounge for when you’ve finished scoping out the restaurant crowd.
Since your throat is bound to get parched with all that witty banter, Switch suggests the New York cocktail with Grey Goose vodka, Grand Marnier, and white cranberry juice. And for refuelling, the Kobe meatballs with truffled spaghetti are a crowd favourite. Asked if spaghetti is a good choice for pickup situations, Switch says, “Why not? Lady and the Tramp!”
Romantic connections can also be made at the sleek Goldfish Pacific Kitchen (1118 Mainland Street). Well-heeled Yaletowners circulate in the bar and lounge area, or make small talk at the high communal tables while nibbling on sugar-cane-skewered prawns or B.C. albacore tuna tataki. “For Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we have a DJ in the lounge that definitely enhances the vibrant energy. It provides contemporary loungey-type sounds so you can still talk to other people,” says general manager Jennifer Hennessey during a phone chat.
With enough liquid courage, you may feel bold enough to buy a drink for that beautiful stranger you’ve been eyeing. “The Hello Kitty is really popular, with sparkling wine, litchi liqueur, and strawberry liqueur. It’s garnished with litchi jellies. It’s really popular with the ladies,” Hennessey says. As for the gentlemen, you could impress by ordering him a Tiger (a Singaporean premium lager) or a Peroni (a light and refreshing Italian beer).
What about those attractive servers—are they off-limits? Hennessey stresses that when on shift, they’re professionals. (In other words, don’t try plying them with liquor.) But as to how they respond to advances, “We don’t have a policy. Our staff are hospitable, but they are also professional. As long as any romantic encounters happen outside of the workplace, I’m okay with that.”
With all these venues for finding a match, there’s bound to be long-term success. Raya Audet, co-owner of the Alibi Room (157 Alexander Street), remembers a couple who came in beaming with good news. They had gotten engaged and had co-owner Nigel Springthorpe to thank for setting them up.
According to Audet, the Alibi Room is ideal for those who are done with the nightclub scene and are looking for a hangout with an eclectic vibe. “It’s a Gastown, Main Street kind of feel. There are a lot of artists that come down and small-business owners that come down. It’s definitely not a Yaletown group,” she says over the phone.
The bar, of course, is a great hookup spot, but so are the long cafeteria-style tables, especially when customers are drinking and more chatty. “We leave a space in between so they’re [groups are] not cuddling, but we might have a couple of groups of two and a group of three all sitting at one communal table,” Audet explains.
She only takes one booking a night for each table, so groups can have a leisurely meal of items like the Canadian cheese and charcuterie plates. Plus, that way they have plenty of time to get to know their neighbours before adjourning to the downstairs lounge, which is open Fridays and Saturdays after 10 p.m., when private-party bookings end.
Stuck for words when trying to woo? Audet finds that the restaurant’s extensive microbeer selection is a conversation piece for many diners. She likes the Spinnaker’s Nut Brown Ale and says sampling selections with someone can be a good way to bond. She advises singletons to take tips from those next to them: “Snuggle up to the bar and get ready for a beer journey.”