Author: Shirley & Mike Wong
“So good and I call it mine.”
-Al B. Sure! (from “Nite and Day”)
Lunch Club in Kitsilano just opened at Arbutus and West 14th Ave. You should know, that despite the name, they’re actually much more than a place to check off one of three square meals in your day.
Their biggest feature? Might just be their personalized service.
When we finish our breakfast, our upbeat server comes around to clear the table and asks how it was. We tell her it was very good. Heading with empty plates to the kitchen, she calls out to the Lunch Club chef and instantly reports our feedback.
The chef surprises us by coming out of the kitchen to our table. Dave (one of the owners), casually pushes the brim up on his cap, wipes his hands on his apron and warmly introduces himself.
As he explains, Lunch Club is solely a breakfast and lunch destination for now. But in the future, they plan to stay open even later as a “supper club”. (They currently close at 4pm.)
Anything but snooty, these dinners will feature one dish – think slow cooked roast lamb and other family-style comfort food – that all diners will enjoy. The simple idea of Lunch Club – which has been the longtime dream of him and his wife – is to welcome everyone in the community.
On Stop 140 of our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee, there’s living proof that Lunch Club may be on to something. We watch as a young family cycles over then slowly turns off of Arbutus Greenway. Carefully parking their bikes at Lunch Club’s rack outside, they head in for breakfast.
A server quickly pushes two tables together. The family takes a seat next to a young couple, who are sipping The Greens smoothie ($7) and an Americano ($3.25, 12 oz). When we enter, two servers immediately look up smiling, tell us to take our time looking around, then pick any seat. They will bring us menus and take our order at the table. When you’re finished your meal, you head to the counter to pay.
As Dave mentions, his wife designed and decorated this space. Airy and bright with floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s elegant and modern which feels perfectly Kits. Jazz music plays as our eyes scan a decor that’s predominantly cream with touches of grey, fuschia and pale pink.
The large amount of seating (wall to wall benches, individual chairs and bar stools) is a big plus. They even have the luxury of two levels, even with a wheelchair lift inherited from the previous tenant.
We decide to take two seats on the well-dressed second level, which has scenic views of the downstairs eating area and the tree-lined neighbourhood. Details are done well here, with little touches like individual brass candles at each seat. Our white leather bar stools are luxe and ultra comfortable.
Just behind us is Dave in the kitchen. As a unique feature, customers can pull up seats to watch the chef cook. By the way, don’t worry that you won’t be able to get a server’s attention if you don’t sit on the main level: staff have to constantly head up the short flight of stairs to retrieve every order.
And our server Kaya is very friendly. She chats with us for a minute, hands over our menus, then says she’ll come back shortly.
As their mouthwatering breakfast and lunch menus show (they are also laid out on a huge feature wall), Lunch Club hits the right balance between comforting, tasty and healthy. It’s not the easiest note to hit, but that’s basically what dining out in Kits is about.
Breakfast options are short but affordable: The Cereal ($9) made with puffed Forbidden Rice, Breakfast Brioche ($5), Toast ($5) composed of thick cut homemade white loaf and donut holes ($5). At lunch, pick from two artisan sandwiches plus six types of Banh Mi ($12-14), Rice/Quinoa bowl ($10), three Salads ($12-14), or soup ($12).
When Kaya returns, we order Breakfast Brioche and Cheddar Scramble & Chives ($5). We add pork belly ($3) but you can also choose from smoked turkey breast ($2), BBQ pulled pork ($3), wild mushroom ($2), avocado ($2) or just have your order made gluten free ($2). We also look forward to trying their Baked Cinnamon & Sugar Donut Holes ($5).
For coffee, Kaya tells us Lunch Club serves espresso from Vancouver’s 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters. They use Old School Espresso currently composed of beans from Ethiopia and Honduras. Mike orders a Flat White ($4, 6 oz) and I have a Latte ($4.25, 12 oz).
Our drinks arrive first and are beautifully executed, better than many cafés using 49th. Mike likes the Flat White with a perfect ratio of milk to coffee: the milk is perfectly textured and the coffee is well balanced. My latte is smooth and mellow, milk also precisely foamed to a sweet flavour and satisfying thickness.
When she returns with our food, Kaya want to hear what we think of their coffee. She’s glad to hear we enjoyed them, as she says they’re new at this and want to get it right.
The Brioche is satisfying with a scrambled egg that’s noticeably fresh and flavourful. The bun is fluffy and a bit sweet, which is exactly how fresh brioche should be. It’s the first time Mike tries pork belly in a sandwich and he really likes it: it’s rich, salty and fatty but not greasy. It’s also nice they ask if we want hot sauce brought to our table: the heat brings the sandwich up a notch.
Those Baked Cinnamon & Sugar Donut Holes really surprise us. The sandy cinnamon and sugar coating is on point. Actually that flavour takes me back to last summer at The Fair, sweating in heat, digging deeper into a paper bag, fishing out sizzling tender fried dough and indulgently cramming it into my mouth.
Of course, the Lunch Club doughnuts are different. Pick one up and you’ll see it’s baked in the slight shape of a mini muffin mold and not deep fried. Still, each morsel is gently warm, deliciously dense, definitely a healthier version.
Every sweet bite is a reflection. Kits, if this is a statement on how food and service should be done – who are we to argue?
VANCOUVER BARISTA REVIEW
Name of coffee: 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters’ Old School Espresso
Origin: Ethiopia & Honduras
Location of roaster: Vancouver, B.C.
Price: $4 (6 oz)
Brewing method: flat white (espresso with milk)
Roaster’s tasting notes: “Cocoa, molasses, round.”
Mike’s comments: Excellent textured milk and well balanced coffee to milk ratio.
- Ultra welcoming and helpful staff, plus very attentive table service.
- Modern and spacious two-level space, with a decor that’s casual luxury.
- Food and drinks that exceeded expectations.
- Coffee and lunch prices lean on the high end. If that’s holding you back, their breakfast is sweet on value.
Seating availability: 4.75/5
OVERALL RATING by VANCOUVER BARISTA: 4.81/5
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3008 Arbutus St (at West 14th Ave)
Operating hours here.