The 600-block of Kingsway at Fraser Street has recently emerged as a hotbed of culinary hangouts, with Los Cuervos Tacqueria & Cantina, Osteria Savio Volpe, and the Twin Peaks–themed Black Lodge all located within walking distance from one another.
And now, the up-and-coming ’hood is set to welcome another addition: the eccentric Crowbar at 646 Kingsway, which is slated to open before the end of June.
The 32-seat room takes the space formerly occupied by a pot-infused pizza joint (seriously), and has been transformed by Vancouver restaurant vets and Crowbar co-owners Jeremy Pigeon and William Johnson.
“We’ve been in fine dining for a long time, so we really wanted to take ourselves out of that gamut,” says Pigeon, who met Johnson while working as a server at Gastown’s L’Abattoir, “and do something with really quality ingredients, amazing food, and in an unpretentious, approachable environment.”
Speaking to the Straight during a tour of the soon-to-be-completed space, Pigeon explains that the name “Crowbar” is a play on words that references the city’s crows.
“We don’t want to be known as a bistro or a lounge,” he continues. “We want to be known as a nice neighbourhood eatery that also attracts clientele from the rest of the city. And we thought ‘Crowbar’ had a strong allure.”
Both the restaurant’s food and bar programs will be based on the underlying theme of “fun”. The kitchen is headed by chefs Chris Scott, formerly of Wildebeest, and Scott Korzak, formerly of Beach Bay Café and Patio and L’Abattoir, who will cook up a mix of share plates and elevated bar snacks that includes beef tongue chimichurri, curly fries, foie gras, popcorn sweet breads, and steelhead tart.
Co-owner and bar manager Johnson, who previously helmed the wood at L’Abattoir, will shake up a list of six original cocktails, each named after ’90s film characters. “It’s a little bit silly, but it’s a still a very structured and focused list,” he says.
Look out for the Mike Lowrey, a “blue-purple-pink, tall Miami-looking drink with a ridiculous garnish”—and a nod to the Bad Boys lead—that uses butterfly pea flower–infused vodka. Johnson adds that he will also be working with many vegetable-based ingredients, such as green pea syrup.
A rotating selection of big brand beers and craft ales will be available on draught, as well as by the can and bottle. Pigeon and Johnson, both of whom are Diploma sommeliers, will look at home and abroad to curate the wine list.
As for the interiors, the rustic 1,079-square-foot room is decked out almost entirely in reclaimed barn wood, which Pigeon and Johnson sourced from Vancouver Island. Damask-print back cushions lend elegance to a wood banquette, which sits behind a row of butcher-block tables and industrial black bar stools.
Opposite, an L-shaped amber bar-top shines against a faux-brick wall. Handcrafted reclaimed wood crates house glassware, as well as an eclectic assortment of trinkets that includes a gargoyle stone sculpture, obsidian skulls, and a special champagne saber, which guests can use to break open bottles of bubbly for special occasions.
Crowbar will be open seven days a week, from 5 p.m. until midnight. Pigeon hopes that the spot will become a neighbourhood destination, filling the gap between upscale and more casual dining experiences in the Fraser Street area.
“We want the restaurant to serve the community,” he says. “It’s a neighbourhood spot, and that’s the initial focus.”