April 15, 2009
An Early Preview of the New Coast Restaurant and O Lounge
As most of us know, Coast Restaurant, a flagship in the fleet of Glowbal Group restaurants, will soon be hauling up anchor at its original location in Yaletown and sailing downtown to a much larger berth on Alberni Street -- almost across the street from its sister restaurant, Italian Kitchen.
With an early July opening looming closer, construction crews have revved up the work schedule. You can hear the clatter and buzz of their machinery as you walk past the new venue's plywood facade, but unless you stop and peek inside, you'd never guess at the dramatic, two-level space taking shape inside.
Emad Yacoub, one of the Glowbal Group's owner/partners, kindly took us on a quick guided tour yesterday, and gave us permission to snap a few preview photos.
Entrance Bar Area: Step through the front doors and you are already almost seated at the bar -- a massive, circular structure of teak and black granite, flanked at the entrance on both sides by two oversize clamshell banquettes.
Get ready for the largest oyster bar in Vancouver, featuring both BC and east coast oysters, as well as large steam kettles of chowder that can be poured into bowls and served piping hot at the pull of a handle. Yacoub envisions a spot in the style of the traditional oyster and chowder bars of San Francisco, with up to 24 high stools, acres of crushed ice, and delicate mosaic tile on the floor.
Kye Melchert will manage the bar and cocktails division and is currently designing a special signature cocktail for the oyster bar. But ... no hints from Kye about that yet.
Staircase and wine display: Turn left from the bar and you pass a raised platform seating area which leads to a staircase that will rise alongside a floor-to-ceiling wall of wine. This wine display could hold up to 3,000 bottles in a temperature controlled environment - however the exact bottle count must be determined by the weight limits of the steel framework, a capacity that still needs to be tested. Robert Byford will be in charge of the wine selection and wine menu.
Mezzanine Dining Area : The second floor mezzanine is strictly for dining, and where much of the 350 seat capacity will be located. Look for separate tables and cozy banquettes amid touches of modern, artistic decor playing on a subtle aquatic theme. (Possibly dangling schools of fish, from the looks of the architect's renderings.) It's all part of the concept by Box Interior Design, the same people who have designed other Glowbal Group restaurants such as Italian Kitchen. Wayne Carson will preside over the dining areas as Maitre D'.
Private Dining Rooms: There will be two areas in the back of the mezzanine dining area which will be separated off as private dining rooms. There is also, of course, a terrific eagle eye view of the action on the main floor from the balcony.
Ohhh the O Lounge: To the right of the bar lies the O Lounge area. Also two-tiered, it contains a raised seating area in the back as well as a lower, street level seating section. If the central bar is light-filled, high-ceiling-ed, airy and traditional in atmosphere, O Lounge will be its darker, more intimate, Los Angeles style counterpart.
Kitchen and Washrooms: The large open kitchen is located at the back of the room and will be visible from most of the restaurant. As at the old Coast, Chef Josh Wolfe will be admiral at this particular bridge. Internationally inspired, modern presentations of seafood will be the focus of his menu, plus something special -- large seafood platters that will not actually be platters, but instead, oversize metal woks containing dry ice and set-in smaller woks filled to the brim with shellfish and other seafood. The land carnivores won't have to shy away. Wolfe will offer a few meat items as well - triple A prime rib steak, for example.
And for the people like ourselves who always score marks for well designed washrooms, Coast's will feature dark chocolate brown tile mosaic accented by ribbons of blue iridescent tiling for an abalone shell effect.
Patio: In this photo, Emad Yacoub stands in the area that will become an outdoor sidewalk patio, offering alfresco seating for 28, as well as not one, but two fireplaces to help take the chill off Vancouver's cool summer evenings.
Last shot: the street location of the restaurant at 1054 Alberni, still covered by boarding.
More details: Hours are expected to be 11 a.m. to Midnight, seven days a week for the restaurant, with O Lounge continuing until 1:30 a.m. There will be valet parking provided. All phone numbers and email addresses will remain the same as at the old Coast Restaurant.
And speaking of that, what will happen to the location on Hamilton Street? That's a good question but not one that the Glowbal Group is willing to share much information about at this time. All we know is that the building will close for a complete renovation in June when Coast moves downtown and will reemerge three months later as " Society".
"It's a restaurant/lounge in a boudoir style," hints Yacoub. "We're planning something very risque."