My partner and I have been here twice. The first time, for dessert, we had the apple pie and torte with coffee. The pie was wonderful - a deliciously flaky crust and not too sweet. We are used to making pies ourselves without sugar, and this one tasted as though the apples they used were either sweet to begin with, or perhaps apple sauce was used as a sweetener. In any case, this is the best pie either of us have ever had in a restaurant (Pie at most restaurants tastes like glorified candy). The torte was also good, albeit a tad rich with the cherries inside (though I might have expected as much). The chocolate was also very fudgy, however, which was nice, and high in cocoa. Both desserts were very fresh-tasting.
We tried lunch for our second visit. The tuna sandwich was amazing - garlicky, flavorful, and with a hint of horseradish. The foccacia bread was a nice touch. The coleslaw was great; in my opinion, this is the only way broccoli should be served. I was skeptical about having potato chips with the meal, home-made or no, as it's a snack I have absolutely no interest in. Given the low sodium content of the meal, however, it made perfect sense, and I was surprised to find myself enjoying them. The spinach salad was everything a spinach salad should be - large, with lots of cranberries, and walnuts and goat cheese to spare. The raspberry vinagrette was fruity without being too sweet (which is a mistake other restaurants make in serving the dish). The endives were wonderful. One downside was that the "grilled chicken" I ordered on top appeared to be from one of those ubiquitous compressed chicken patties, which for some reason everyone is serving these days (including Moxie's, Earl's and the Cactus Club). It was nice to have the protein, but it didn't add any excitement or flavor to the dish.
One major upside is the location. The restaurant is absolutely beautiful inside, and fits in well with its improving downtown east side surroundings. I also noticed during my visit that the manager let several people from outside into the restaurant to use the bathroom - people who, to judge from their appearance, would not be paying patrons, present or future. In my opinion, for a business to be truly successful in such a socioeconomically challenged community, this type of goodwill toward one's neighbors is essential. I have no use personally for another economically polarized, "gentrified" Gastown, nice as it is in many respects. My impression was sealed when I went to use the washroom myself and found it spotless. I ultimately left the restaurant feeling as if I'd contributed in a concrete way to a socially responsible, DTES renaissance, with good food and reasonable prices besides.
The service has also been fantastic both times we've been there. The coffee is a good roast, and the refills are truly "bottomless," as the menu says (I think I had 7 cups over the course of my second visit, and finally had to turn down a refill). The servers we've had have been friendly and attentive. I look forward to trying their meatloaf next time and enjoying a pint or two. This place is a keeper. The meat loaf is next on my list to try. . .