I’m not really trying to be the Mount Pleasant Daily Gleaner here, but it is my neighbourhood — and the neighbourhood of the 2010 Olympics, I’ll thank you to remember — so I am compelled to report the latest cool thing here.
Which is: The arrival of Les Faux Bourgeois at the corner of Fraser and 15th.
We’d been watching the development in this space, which has been various incarnations of a Vietnamese pho place for decades. Last night, it opened and, by chance, I found out so I hustled right over to find myself at what felt exactly like an out-of-the-way neighbourhood restaurant in Paris. Chalkboard with specials written out in the distinctive French writing: Check. Old-fashioned tile floor, brass rail, and wood panelling: Check. People standing at the bar having a drink while others sat at tables eating: Check. A wild mix of people, including kids, babies in strollers, elderly men in shorts, a large Vietnamese (I think) family, all manner of hipsters and artistes: Check. People standing out on the sidewalk smoking and yakking in French: Check. Steak avec frites, cassoulet, salade frisee aux lardons, creme brulee, kir, pate, merguez: Check, check, check.
The owners — one from Go Fish, the other a former partner in Jules in Gastown — said they wanted to set up shop here because Main was too jammed and this was more like a French-feeling neighbourhood. It’s on a funny little street that forms the quieter border of a triangular park at Kingsway and Fraser, surrounded by cheap Vietnamese restaurants in this strip of Little Saigon, appliance repair shops and produce stores. The short street is lined with tall trees, making it feel a little protected.
A welcome addition. Does this mean gentrification is now pushing the borders of Fraser and, dare we say, Clark? It remains to be seen. It would be nice if somehow there could be a blend of the old and the new. It’s not impossible, you know. I have a friend who lives in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn and I’m always heartened, when I go there, to see how it has maintained a balance of low-rent old businesses and more upscale newer ones. It’s nice to have the choice.