The City of Vancouver isn’t short on venues, to be sure, but what it has lacked for ages is a place that pays as much attention to its events as it does the other aspects of its operation. Translation: it’s hard to get a good bite at the same spot you’ll witness a great show, cut a rug, etc. Attending an event in this city usually means starving in the line up, getting blasted on unfortunate draft, taking a beating in the sweaty crowd, and then eventually wandering the streets in search of something cheap and greasy to soak up the poison. The newly opened Electric Owl, located in the building that once housed the legendary American Hotel, aims to put an end to those sorts of shenanigans.
The building underwent a much needed renovation, transforming from a dilapidated east side dive to a modern industrial haven for the culturally starved and traditionally hungry, and is now ready to host a new generation of interesting characters. Said characters are encouraged to show up in groups large or small, as the space is as flexible in concept as it is design. The Electric Owl is capable of the type of intimate seating arrangements you may find in a restaurant, as well as setups better suited for party time. Whichever way you want it, it’s up to you and approximately 200 of your nearest and dearest to fill it up and do your thing while the team at the Owl does theirs.
A menu loaded with izakaya-style options makes perfect sense given the vintage Japanese magazines and manga that are found on each of the many tables. On said menu, you’ll find properly executed classics like Albacore Tuna Tataki (seared rare and sliced) and Ebi Mayo (prawn tempura), as well as less traditional but equally welcome and tasty dishes like the Heirloom Tomato and Daikon Salad, where the perfectly ripened tomatoes were served atop a pile of simply dressed shaved daikon. Only the plate of deep fried yam heaped with spiced walnuts proved lackluster; it was a bit sweet and boring.
Izakaya cuisine is designed to be eaten while drinking, so it stands to reason that there would be an ample selection of beer, wine, sake, and signature cocktails. My crisp pint of Russell’s IP’eh was ideal for the heat and played nice with the food, and the Whisky Sour was, interestingly deviant in that it used pineapple as its source for acid.
Ultimately, the Electric Owl aims to make your life both better and easier by giving you a nice place to eat before it turns into the kind of place that you dance or take in some kind of show. The people involved seem very interested in creating a scene, and are keenly aware that the eventual success of the establishment depends on it. Keep your eyes peeled for something that suits you and check it out.
Restaurant Hours of Operation:
5pm to Midnight Monday to Sunday