It’s already been a quite a year for vegetarian dining in Vancouver.
With highly anticipated, well-received openings, the Acorn in South Main and Heirloom Vegetarian in South Granville each made a splash with their upscale menus. While Kitsilano lost longstanding buffet restaurant Greens and Gourmet, it gained a fast-food joint in Tera V Burger.
In late September, the Parker (237 Union Street) entered the picture, opening on the southern edge of Chinatown. This tiny vegetarian restaurant serves lunch (Tuesday to Friday noon to 2 p.m.), brunch (Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), and dinner (Tuesday to Saturday 5:30 p.m. until late). On a rainy Saturday, two of us dropped by for brunch.
Inside the Parker, we found an eatery that doesn’t waste any space. Our table at the back was near the dish and cutlery shelf, and we had a good view of the cooking in the open kitchen at the end of the bar. Mirrors encircle the minimalist restaurant, and the wooden benches we sat on came with pillows.
The vegan options aren’t marked on the small menu, so we asked our server. One of the five brunch dishes currently on offer, the tofu scramble ($10), is vegan by default. The mini tacos ($12), which normally come with scrambled egg, can also be made vegan. We ordered both of those, plus a mug of French-pressed coffee (with soy milk and palm sugar) and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. The menu also featured a few cocktails, with prices similar to the food.
What the Parker calls a tofu scramble is nothing like the other tofu scrams out there. First of all, there’s the quinoa. Then there’s the baby bok choy. While the menu didn’t prepare us for those ingredients, it did note the shiitake mushrooms, miso, and scallions that are part of this stunning—in taste and appearance—dish. My only quibble was that the serving size was meagre.
As for the mini tacos, six arrived packed with white bean and radish and topped with cilantro and pea shoots. These were pleasing but not super-flavourful. The sauce provided helped a little with that.
Our bill came to $29 before tax and tip. Unfortunately, while our taste buds were satisfied, especially by the amazing tofu scramble, our appetites were not due to the small portions. We both ended up scarfing down bowls of vegan noodles at Harvest Community Foods (243 Union Street), a few doors down the block.