Editor’s update (Sep 2016): Timbertrain’s pastry menu has changed so it’s mostly baked in-house, from scratch.
Author: Shirley and Mike Wong
“When the ideas are coming, I don’t stop until the ideas stop because that train doesn’t come along all the time.”
Bumpy brick roads, Gassy Jack statue, the old steam clock, touristy shops, 90s clubbing. A decade ago, that’s what came to mind when I reflected on Gastown which has been around since 1867.
Today, this historical neighbourhood is the midst of transformation. Gastown runs the gamut for every taste. It’s welcomed the world’s premier Versace Home flagship store. Designer John Fluevog’s enormous shoe emporium is reminiscent of a New York loft. Commercial touristy stores have mostly been replaced by eye candy boutiques like Old Faithful Shop, Orling & Wu and One of a Few. Interesting dining options are also plentiful and unique – too many to describe here.
Restored brick, alleys leading to hidden bistros and a general impression that this area has aged well – adds up to instant inspiration for any artist, hipster or foodie. Then again, maybe this place just serves as a counter argument against anyone who dares to think, even momentarily, that our city has lost its soul.
We head to Timbertrain Coffee Roasters on our 7th stop in our Search for Vancouver’s Best Coffee. This is the second café we’ve visited that has a train theme, although they translate quite differently. A head-on sketch of an engine cable car serves as their modern graphic. A window-facing counter is planed to the shape of a train track, as is the clean-line bench seating outside. Sleek benches inside are a subtle nod to a train station waiting area.
We ordered a coffee (all beans are freshly roasted by Timbertrain) and a peppermint tea. All baking is done by North Burnaby’s Chez Christophe. The almond croissant and chocolate croissant we devoured were massive – couldn’t finish mine. They were very buttery, flaky and satisfying. My tea was served in an elegant, tall infuser and dishware was all notNeutral – all thoughtful touches that felt indulgent.
The place filled up quickly and was mostly occupied by a young clientele of hipsters. Many were on their laptops – even early on this Sunday morning.