The sandwich board outside of 237 Union Street in Vancouver reads, “Come and try our block rockin’
beets!” Enter and you’ll find a cozy and cool restaurant with an appropriately playful menu where the only
constant is the absence of meat. The Parker is the latest in a recent wave of vegetarian venues to open
in the city. Restaurant veterans Jason Leizert, Steve Da Cruz and Martin Warren came together with the
aim to lift vegetarian cuisine to new heights with local ingredients and sustainable practices. The Notable
team stopped by for dinner to experience this new variation of vegetarian.
The interior is small and unassuming, with just twenty seats that line the narrow room. The simplistic
design has a Scandinavian feel with unfinished wood grains, monochromatic accents and touches of
glass and Lucite. On a cold winter night we quickly warmed up once seated among the candles and soft
lighting. Perhaps the most surprising feature of all is the tiny open kitchen, occupying just 60 square feet
at the end of the bar.
Despite the small space, executive chef Jason Leizert still manages to take the menu to big places.
Depending on what ingredients are available, not only from local suppliers, but from their own rooftop
garden growing nearby, the choices vary regularly. French cooking methods provide the foundation for
the menu, resulting in subtle and delicate flavours that complimented a rich texture in almost everything
we sampled. Chickpea fries arrived first, crisp with a velvety smooth centre. A selection of barbequed
mushrooms followed, which more closely resembled tender braised beef in appearance and texture.
The winner of the evening was the handmade agnolotti, stuffed with roasted squash, confit garlic and brown
butter. Local vegetables even played a role in dessert in a small carrot cake with a salty butterscotch
Partner Steve Da Cruz lends his considerable experience behind the bar and has crafted a sustainable
wine list focused on the Columbia Watershed Basin, as well as a short list of unconventional cocktail
combos. For an unexpected twist, we suggest the New Strathcona, made with bourbon, olive syrup,
orange and lemon zest.
Many restaurants make generous claims about their commitments to sustainability, but The Parker
can boast a waste output of around one pound a month. Even more impressive, in our eyes, was
Gregor Robertson sharing a quiet meal with his wife two tables down. If the presence of the city’s green
crusading mayor doesn’t lend credibility to a sustainable concept, what does?