The Vancouver food scene is so diverse. Take a look at the Gastown neighbourhood for example. There are bars that serve $30 cocktails, sushi, Italian, Mexican restaurants all within a stone throw from each other. And on East Hastings, a street that has the distinction of being Canada’s poorest postal code, you’ll truly find Gastown’s Gamble: the newly revitalized Save-On Meats diner.
The diner and butcher shop have been part of this neighbourhood for like it seems forever. Owner Mark Brand (the brains behind such gems as Monster Sushi and Boneta) has managed to keep the authentic feel of the place. Vintage signs painted by local artists suggest to us that it’s time to order a banana split and that the coffee is fresh. A large bar it’s the centre piece of the restaurant.
The prices are ridiculous. $6 for a bacon cheeseburger AND fries? Sign me up! Most entrees start at less than $10. The children’s menu start at $4.
Now some people are expecting gourmet fare. Folks, this is a DINER. And fine diner food is what you’ll find here: burgers, milkshakes, ribs, sandwiches. The bread and desserts are made in-house on their bakery upstairs. The meat is provided by the butcher shop next door. The food is fresh, but not fancy. Which suited me just fine.
If you’ve never been here, I recommend getting the burger. It’s Save-On Meats claim to fame. It’s made with fresh herbs and ground steak daily. The bun is freshly made upstairs. It comes with bacon, two kinds of cheese and lettuce and tomato. Simple, but delicious. Also the portion is not bad! The burger is a nice size and the fries are plentyful.
Another thing I really liked about this place is the people watching. Such an array of interesting characters paraded thru the door during the short time I was there. A true representation of what the East Hasting Neighbourhood is and what it’s becoming. The service is friendly and it’s busy. My waitress seemed to know a lot of the locals and had a kind word for everyone.
Now you can’t go to a diner and not order a piece of pie. I had the Cream Cheese Chocolate Pie for dessert. Holy cow. It was so good! The crust was so flaky with a chocolate coating. The cream cheese filling was creamy and sweet. Awesome way to end my meal. Unfortunately the pie is not a regular menu item, but I was told that it makes an appearance at least once a week.
If anyone from Save-On Meats reads this, please, oh pretty please, put that pie on the menu permanently?
I’ve always said that dining should be an experience. This is a Vancouver must in my books. At the end of my meal my bill came to $13.09. That’s with an entree, dessert and a drink. Not to shabby.
There’s been a lot of hype for this restaurant, it has been featured on Diners Drive In and Dives as well as the OWN Network commissioned a documentary/reality TV show about how this project came to be and the struggles behind it . It’s now showing on OWN Canada. It’s called Gastown Gamble. Gamble? perhaps. But it feels to me more like a sure thing.
Follow them on twitter @SAVEONMEATS