I should start this review by saying CALM THE $*&# DOWN, THIS IS NOT THE ONLY CAFE IN VANCOUVER. It’s just called The Only Cafe. Jeeze, you’re always such a freaking drama queen.
The daft thing about this place is that you may have walked past it before and not even noticed. If that’s the case, allow me to introduce you to Kitsilano’s best kept secret.
Filter Coffee: $3.80 – $10
There’s always a decent selection of coffee to choose from (I saw Drumroaster, Fernwood and Discovery), served up in various types of brewing devices. This includes the elusive siphon device, which is nice to see. But if you really want to show off to your Instagram minions, order yourself a coffee served via their Royal Belgian Pot. What is this you ask? It’s a ridiculously fancy way of drinking coffee via this contraption here:
The device works by brewing the coffee grinds (a Panama from Discovery Coffee) three separate times with a very quick brew time (under 30 seconds). The first brew is bold, thick and fragrant. The second brew is sweet and floral. The third is light and almost like tea. Each of these is served in a china cup and saucer.
I was very sceptical of this device – I mean after all, brewing coffee three times sounds gross, but it was actually quite tasty. The second brew was my favourite, with the sweetness of the coffee shining through.
This drink was on the stronger end of the scale – it was a mighty hit of espresso while the milk was slightly too hot. It was not an easy drinking cortado, that’s for sure. This seems to be the trend with all the milk drinks they’ve made for me; hot and strong.
Potato and tomato pastry thingie: $9
I have no idea what this is actually called, but it was layers of flaky pastry, a rich cheese topping and a selection of sweet baby tomatoes on top. It was amazing. The richness of the cheese sauce was counterbalanced by the sweet, juicy tomatoes and the pastry was rich and buttery. The whole thing gave me the cheese sweats, which is usually a good sign!
The level of barista-animation very much depends who serves you. The staff are always friendly, but 50% of them are very reserved and quiet, whilst the rest are bubbly, lively and loud! My preference is the latter, because I’m a stupid attention wh*re, but it’s nice to have some quiet moments, if that’s your thing. The owners are really knowledgeable about coffee and when you talk to them about the subject they are passionate and excited.
Decor at The Only Cafe consists of white paint, natural woods, plenty of seating and a large bar to watch the coffee creation process. It’s a relaxed and comfortable venue with some great touches, such as a pair of headphones available to use at each table. The back of the coffee shop is a little messy, but it’s dark, so you only really notice it on the way to the bathroom.
4th Avenue and MacDonald Street is swiftly turning into a great area to eat and drink, so The Only Cafe is perfectly located to fit into this trendy Kitsilano sub-neighborhood. Buses stop outside of the venue, there are lots of paid on street parking spots as well as plenty of free parking in the back streets.
The single bathroom is a decent size, well-appointed and has a rustic theme to it. The only issue I have is that it’s always a little bit dirty, with a mop leaned against the wall, grimy communal soap bars (or pump alternative) and corners that need a damn good scrub.
Kitsilano is mostly a latte and cappuccino style affair, so it’s great to see someone stepping up to the plate and offering pour over and siphon brews in this location! You’ll always find some great food being served by friendly staff in a relaxing venue, but don’t touch the soap in the bathroom.
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