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Food & Fine Dining Hungry? Come on down to Wings - Fun, Food and Drinks.
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:31 AM   #1
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Top Chef winner closes Vancouver restaurants

Unfortunately we lose this great chef and his restaurants to expensive rent/lease rates in Downtown Vancouver. I have eaten at Ensemble numerous times and have enjoyed the food and the atmosphere every time. Every time I have been there whether it be a weekday or a weekend it has always been packed.

I'm really sad to see it go. Ensemble had one of the best Gnocchi I had ever tasted.

Top Chef winner closes Vancouver restaurants - News1130

anybody else eaten here? your thoughts?
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:48 AM   #2
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That location is cursed, but refreshing to hear him blame his ego on this one. Rent is rediculous in this city, and seen it kill good restaurants, and even ones i worked at. Pretty clear that he'll take up a comfy operations position now. (ala feenie with cactus)
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:49 AM   #3
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Gnocchi or is this some Japanese dish?
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Old 08-28-2012, 10:29 AM   #4
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If he had stuck with one restaurant instead of two, he possibly could have survived. I went to Ensemble Tap twice and I didn't think it was anything special. The beer selection at Tap wasn't anything special (I could easily find those beers at other restaurants or at St. Augustine's) and the decor was definitely a mixed bag. About the only redeeming feature of the place was the upper deck which was good for hosting large groups.

The owner/chef is right though - Cactus/Joey/Earls rule this city. You need to offer something extraordinary (a la Hawksworth) to survive.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:03 PM   #5
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Really? Am I the only person that notices that corporate chain restaurants aren't as popular in Van compared to other cities?
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:24 PM   #6
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Really? Am I the only person that notices that corporate chain restaurants aren't as popular in Van compared to other cities?
Compared to which other cities? I haven't been to any other major Canadian city so can't compare but I think chain restaurants are pretty damn popular in Vancouver.

Given the choice, I often choose the non-chain restaurants or bars over chain just coz they are usually cheaper for similar quality food and with more unique/creative options.

I've been to Ensemble once. Can't remember what I had but the food was fine. Decor was kind of sparse, though. And yeah, that corner is cursed.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:12 PM   #7
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Really? Am I the only person that notices that corporate chain restaurants aren't as popular in Van compared to other cities?
Not 100% sure but when I go to Calgary my friends said most people don't go to McDonald's, Bk there and people always go to the local Burger place. It does seem Calgary have a lot less McDonald's, KFC, BK when compare to Vancouver. Also it does seem Calgary have less chain restaurants......
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:19 PM   #8
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I think theres a fair balance between corporate chain restaurants and private restaurants. The only thing is the chain restaurants obviously have more exposure, but even if you do a little digging you will find a nice restaurant.
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:58 PM   #9
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i enjoyed the food at emsemble. it was pricey but it was a good experience. sad to see this place go.
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Old 08-28-2012, 06:27 PM   #10
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Compared to which other cities? I haven't been to any other major Canadian city so can't compare but I think chain restaurants are pretty damn popular in Vancouver.

Given the choice, I often choose the non-chain restaurants or bars over chain just coz they are usually cheaper for similar quality food and with more unique/creative options.

I've been to Ensemble once. Can't remember what I had but the food was fine. Decor was kind of sparse, though. And yeah, that corner is cursed.
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Not 100% sure but when I go to Calgary my friends said most people don't go to McDonald's, Bk there and people always go to the local Burger place. It does seem Calgary have a lot less McDonald's, KFC, BK when compare to Vancouver. Also it does seem Calgary have less chain restaurants......
Compared to Calgary. From what I heard, it's actually quite the opposite. My Calgarian friends say most people over there go to chain restaurants like Earls, Milestone and Joey's over independently-owned restaurants.
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Old 08-29-2012, 12:01 AM   #11
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Damn I've always been meaning to try Ensemble but never got the chance to, always stuck working myself ...
I went to eTap last month and thought the food was very standard pubfare and was not worthy of "Top Chef Canada" to put his stamp on it ... not sure what he was thinking with that ...
And it's true, rent in Downtown Vancouver is ass-rapingly high ... it's pretty hard to survive out here ... so imagine how difficult it is to juggle keeping the menu cheap without sacrificing quality and keeping the costs down ... what a nightmare!
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:41 PM   #12
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Not 100% sure but when I go to Calgary my friends said most people don't go to McDonald's, Bk there and people always go to the local Burger place. It does seem Calgary have a lot less McDonald's, KFC, BK when compare to Vancouver. Also it does seem Calgary have less chain restaurants......
Its quite the opposite. Coming from someone who had spent most of their life in the calgary/edmonton area, both cities are very chain centric. Thats actually one of the biggest reasons I left edmonton. There are a very select few restaurants to work at if you feel like continuing a path in the kitchen beyond the joeys/earls corporate shit.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:15 PM   #13
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Tap was a mistake on his part, ensemble alone would have survived imo
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:16 PM   #14
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And it's a shame that he has left the city all together too
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:22 PM   #15
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That's unfortunate, did he go back to Saskatoon?
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Old 10-02-2012, 03:43 PM   #16
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Apparently the location for Ensemble has been leased already, so we'll have to wait and see what emerges.
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Old 10-02-2012, 03:45 PM   #17
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Best of luck to the next place. That corner is seemingly cursed.
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Old 10-14-2012, 12:49 AM   #18
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The Ensemble location has been leased out. I saw the sign it's called "Purple Olive" now?... not sure what the plan for that place is ...

On another note, eTap has been taken over by Kamei group! Should be ready to open in a couple months!
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:05 PM   #19
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It seems to be almost ready to open, if not already open:



Dunno how they can do such cheap meals, rent is probably pretty high at that location.
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:12 PM   #20
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Interesting concept..similar to Warehouse/Factory on Granville
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:20 PM   #21
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The Ensemble location has been leased out. I saw the sign it's called "Purple Olive" now?... not sure what the plan for that place is ...

On another note, eTap has been taken over by Kamei group! Should be ready to open in a couple months!
Will Kamei Royale on Burrard/Alberni still be open as well?
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:31 PM   #22
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hmm... the japadog cart across the street will put them out of business.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:46 PM   #23
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Dunno how they can do such cheap meals, rent is probably pretty high at that location.
Volume.

Much like in Orange County, Vietnamese restaurants are so abundant, the competition is fierce. Restaurants will have 50% of pho or regular menu items at specific times, usualy 3 - 6pm dine-in only and they bank on volume to turn a profit or at least keep afloat. You can easily get a decent bowl of pho for $4.50 tax and tip included. But the moment you ask for a glass of ice water, they nickle and dime you and charge $0.50 - $1.00.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:59 PM   #24
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Ya but that corner isn't exactly a high-traffic area. Unless it opens with a huge bang, gets rave reviews and is able to sustain it, I can't see how they can make it up in volume; especially given the track record other restaurants that have failed in that area.

Best of luck to them though, would be nice to have some quality value food options there.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:07 PM   #25
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If it's hipster enough and has enough Instagram photos on its Facebook page, it'll work.
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