Comfort food and taxidermy find new Gastown digs at House Guest
Hip, earthy restaurants dishing up fancy, nouveau comforts have been popping up all over Vancouver this year. The Flying Pig opened in Yaletown last spring, and the Oakwood Canadian Bistro in Kitsilano followed shortly. Now, Gastown dwellers craving mac 'n' cheese, chilli dogs, and chicken and waffles have a new cozy watering hole to settle into.
House Guest opened recently at 200-332 Water Street (which previously housed McLean’s restaurant). The casual 140-seat restaurant is owned by first-time restaurateurs Matt Schmidt and Justin Devlin, and it is only open for dinner Wednesdays to Saturdays and brunch on Sundays. The dining space, which features a long bar on one side, is filled with gothic bric-a-brac: gold-painted skulls, taxidermy pieces, brass candelabras, old books, and framed photos. It’s like stepping into grandma’s living room, if your grandma was a cool, hoarding hipster.
The food, created by Kayla Dhaliwall, who previously worked at Wild Rice, is full of warm, calorie-laden favourites done with a twist. Appetizers ($9 to $13) include pimento mac 'n' cheese croquettes, and braised short-rib sloppy joes served with tomato and onion jam and hickory sticks. Entrees ($15 to $21) are just as comforting: Sheppard’s pie made with braised lamb shoulder and truffle-whipped potatoes, seared albacore tuna and rock shrimp casserole, a pulled-duck donair, and a house-made burger topped with egg and béarnaise sauce.
If you’re heading to House Guest for just a drink, nibble on small-plate items ($3 to $5), including bacon, maple and cheddar-infused kettle corn, and basil and four-cheese grilled cheese. Or share one of the restaurant’s land or sea platters ($19 to $29), which include either salami, carpaccio, and cheeses; or seared tuna, oysters, prawn cocktail, and accompaniments.
Brunch items ($8 to $13) include the standard two eggs, sausage, bacon, hash cake, toast, and fruit; yogurt fried chicken over bacon-pecan waffles; and gypsy benedict made with red wine sausage, tomato bruschetta, and chipotle hollandaise.
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