2012 vancity gastown food

New to the Neighbourhood: Catch 122

It seems like every week, a new place opens up in our little Gastown village.  One of my latest favourites,

Catch 122

, at 122 West Hastings, has been open for a few months now, and is quickly becoming a favourite brunch and lunch spot for the neighbourhood.

I stopped in by myself for a quick lunch at the counter about a week after their opening, and had the pulled pork grilled cheese.  The staff were incredibly friendly and often stopped by for a quick chat on their way to and from their tables.  I also met executive chef Walter Messiah, who stared at me for a minute, and then announced that he recognized me from my very first visit to all-time favourite

Acme Cafe

, which he helped establish a few years ago.  He remembered I was a lawyer.  I knew I had recognized him from somewhere, but was astonished that he recognized me.  Walter's delightful daughter Jade is also on staff at Catch 122 and we became Twitter buddies after my first visit.  

A welcoming environment goes a long way, but you also need to have some great food in over to win over the discerning Gastown locals.  And Catch 122 doesn't disappoint.   The menu isn't going to change the world, but the food is well-prepared with attention to detail.  The pulled pork grilled cheese was amazing, and the coffee (thanks to barista Steven) was delicious.  My friend Cathy and I stopped by the next week for brunch, and we each had "The Hastings" - sunny side up eggs, crispy bacon, melted goat cheese and yukon potato hash.  Being a Woodwards resident, I can't wait to try "The Woodwards" - caramelized red onion and chives omelette with yukon potato hash and swiss cheese toast.  

Walter also stopped by our table at brunch to say hello and offer us yogurt parfaits, which were delicious.  The portions (at both brunch and lunch) are generous without being too much.  The food is what I would call traditional comfort food, with a bit of an upscale twist, which is often thanks to one or two luxury ingredients: poutine is not just poutine, it's


 poutine.  You get the idea.

There are plenty of tables at Catch 122 and families are welcome - there is a special kids' menu.   You can also stop in for coffee and a pastry to go, or to pick up a ready meal.  I'll be interested to see how things go when Catch is open for dinner as well - which I'm told should be very soon.  

Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese with Pommes Frites.

The great bar and coffee space.  

Photo courtesy www.catch122.ca.

Barista Steven makes good coffee, but he thinks it should be better LOOKING.

Catch 122 has plenty of tables, including some round tables for large groups and a long social table in the back.  

Photo courtesy www.catch122.ca.

New Neighbourhood Treats: Cartems Donuterie

Last Saturday I braved the pouring rain at an ungodly hour of the morning to visit our latest Gastown treat-peddler,

Cartems Donuterie

, who have set up a pop-up shop in the Hotel Pennsylvania, at the corner of Hastings and Carrall. The donuts have been selling out as quickly as they can bring them in, so I thought I had better go bright and early to make sure I got the donuts I wanted! Lucky for Cartems (but unlucky for me), they had been

featured in the Globe and Mail

that same day, so they were already low on stock by the time I got there, about 20 minutes after opening.

Some of the donuts on offer at the pop-up shop.

I told proprietor Jordan Cash, who was greeting everyone with a smile, while serving


working the cash desk, that I was interested in sampling all the flavours he had on offer that day (there were 5). I bought a half dozen, to share with my pals Zach and Ryan at the Juice Truck. As he put my box together, Jordan explained that many of their ingredients are sourced locally, and that the donuts are fried in coconut oil, which is a healthier choice (as far as deep fried baked goods go). Since there were 5 flavours and I was buying 6 donuts, I asked which donut flavour I should double up on, and Jordan suggested I take 2 of the Earl Grey, which features Earl Grey tea from Granville Island Tea company and fresh local mallow flowers.

Clockwise from top left: Triple Chocolate Threat, Sweet Snow, The Bee Sting, Earl Grey x 2, The Classic

Over at the Juice Truck, Zach, Ryan and I chopped up the donuts and had a bit of a taste test. We all enjoyed the Sweet Snow, a coconut confection with a white chocolate glaze. The Triple Chocolate Threat, with chocolate ganache and chocolate pearls, was almost too rich for words. The Classic had a really rich white vanilla glaze which was almost crunchy - I had been expecting something more like a traditional honey glazed donut and this was too heavy and icing-laden to really qualify. Ryan wasn't brave enough to try the Bee Sting, a honey donut with parmesan and black pepper. Zach and I thought it tasted like a fancy sandwich. We called it the "Lunch Donut." By far, though, our favourite was the Earl Grey - a really distinctive flavour that will likely put Cartems on the map. We all thought the texture of the donuts was great - not too heavy, a little more cake-y than your average Tim Hortons donut, and hand-rolled.

Cartems' logo combines the 3 elements of Jordan's vision for the brand: donuts, smiles and conversation.

These babies are 3 dollars a pop, and Jordan seemed almost apologetic about that as he explained the donuts to customers. I don't think he


be apologetic - these donuts can't even remotely be seen to be competing with frozen Tim Hortons old-fashioneds, and so they should cost more. We think nothing now of dropping $3 on a fancy cupcake (or macarons, which are the new cupcake), so why not a handrolled, premium-ingredient donut? I think the price point is more than justified by the quality of the product.

Today my friends Duncan and Rebecca came to visit and brought me a Flourless Bouquet from Cartems - their gluten-free donut with a berry tea glaze. Hot damn, was that donut good. Probably my favourite of the whole bunch. The glaze was not too rich, almost yogurt-y, and the texture of the donut was amazing - moist and cakey. We have a winner!

Cartems is located at 408 Carrall Street, and is open daily from 10 - 3 (11 - 3 on Saturday). You can also order


for bicycle delivery. Welcome to the 'hood, Cartems! We hope you'll stay awhile!