Before we get into the Nemesis Polygon review, cast your mind back just over three years ago. A ragtag bunch of coffee lovers were sitting in their front room. An unusual series of events had meant that each one of them had accidentally worn their underpants on the outside of their jeans.
If you’re wondering WTF I’m on about, I chronicled the superhero origin story of the Nemesis crew in my original review.
I’m excited to tell you that Nemesis are back with a new location in North Van.
And holy shit is it ever dope.
What’s the coffee like in Nemesis Polygon?
Beans: Pilot Coffee Roasters Nemesis Blend
Nemesis work with Pilot Coffee Roasters in Ontario for their espresso. It’s consistently fantastic, with some chocolatey and caramel notes coming out when you mix it with milk (which was steamed perfectly). The whole thing was served in a beautiful custom made mug from Techtonic Plates.
Beans: La Cabra something or other
Ok, I’ll be honest, I can’t really remember what the actual coffee was called, but I know it was Ethiopian. It doesn’t matter anyway, because I’ve had a tonne of pour-overs at Nemesis and they’re all outstanding. This particular drink was bright, fruity and impossibly well balanced.
Beans: Luna Coffee Roasters
One of the new changes I really like at Nemesis Polygon is the addition of batch brew. Honestly, with auto brewers providing near pour-over quality coffee these days, it’s really quite incredible what result you can get from these things. I opted for beans by local roaster Lüna. The drink was full-bodied, juicy and balanced like a gymnast.
As I mentioned, Nemesis can be found on the Siply app.
Siply is an app I created that enables you to find the best coffee shops in the city then get amazing deals on drinks. Simply put – you can’t get better prices on your drinks anywhere else than this app. I made a little calculator to show this, have a play with it and see what you think:
If you’re keen to try it out, you can download it by visiting the website here.
What’s the food like in Nemesis Polygon?
Before I start chatting about food, let me explain a few things about Nemesis Polygon. You may have heard this place referred to as “Nemesis Dope Bakehouse”. This is because there’s a very special bakery inside the shop.
The second you walk inside you’ll see a giant glass-walled kitchen where the team are furiously working away creating some amazing baked treats. And when I said amazing, I mean AMAZING.
But before we get into that, let’s talk brunch options.
The Breakfast Sandwich
Sweet. Baby. Jebus. This thing was a religious experience. I’ve started to eat way less meat these days. Fuck you, don’t judge me. Mushrooms have been my goto meat replacement. Fun fact – before trees existed the earth was covered in giant mushrooms. Anyway, these are quite simply the best I’ve ever had.
I chatted to head chef Jacob who told me they were brined and then smoked.
They’re so meaty that they taste like they’ve been shaved off the side of a cow.
Anyway, aside from the mushroom element, you have a kind of scrambled egg patty, mustard aioli and cheese inside a milk bun.
The whole thing is a flavour bomb, with all elements working harmoniously together to make every bite an experience. I’d put this as my top mushroom burger of all time and probably the only breakfast sando that has come close to The Sammy at Spade (which by the way is a revelation).
I’m a pretty huge fan of toast. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even second dinner.
Can you tell I work for myself, from home and haven’t cut a pay cheque in two years?
My point? Toast is awesome.
So how do you make toast better? You make it out of fucking butter, that’s how you dirty little minx!
This dish comprises of a layer of croissant toast (exactly what it sounds like – a slice of bread made out of croissant then toasted) with soft, creamy scrambled eggs and a truffle honey drizzle. Oh and the best cheese that exists on the planet sprinkled on top – Burrata.
Yep – truffle honey. Bet you’ve not had that before.
I love truffles. I’ve been leaning into them a lot recently (see above meatless nonsense) but I’ve never had them in anything sugary. Honestly, I wasn’t into it at first. @catapultcoffee guided me through my first experience with this (who by the way has more knowledge about coffee roasters than anyone else in Vancouver). The trick for me was to get a bit of the bread, egg, honey AND the burrata in each bite.
I mean, c’mon, I just described two things you never have, one thing you sometimes have and, well, eggs. All in one bite. Of course, it’s awesome.
Creme Brulee Pastry
Alright, I know what you’re thinking. I’m not going to get biblical with my writing on this one.
What you’re going to get here is a flaky and rich croissant pie kind of thing, with a creamy-rich custard and a crispy sugar top. There’s a zingy citrus thing going on in it too, which is described as a ‘blood orange surprise”.
It’s sweet, delicious and the kind of thing I could eat eight of.
Strawberry Cheesecake Croissant
Behold, the sexiest looking croissant you’ve probably ever seen, you lowly pauper.
The Nemesis Polygon Dope Bakehouse team have taken a regular croissant, dressed it up with a little rouge then filled it with a delicious cheesecake-cream filling.
This thing is magical. It’s light, airy, crispy, creamy and rich all at the same time. The strawberry and cheesecake filling is not overpowering at all and the sweetness is just right.
Nemesis Polygon is a big change from the Gastown location, but a lot of aspects will feel familiar.
First off there are several (tight) four-person booths along the floor to ceiling windows that wrap around the venue. You’ll probably notice that the fabric colour matches the custom Modbar espresso machines opposite.
On the subject of the bar, they’ve opted for a low profile espresso setup, so that their staff can focus more on the customer. The byproduct of this is that it creates an even more open space.
My favourite place to sit in the venue is either at the pour-over bar, where you can literally sit within touching distance to the v60’s…
…or on the bench seating by the kitchen.
Yep – those are wrap-around windows that look directly into the pastry production area.
Long story short, Vancouver is changing. It’s no longer sufficient to half-arse it. With spectacular venues like Prado Burnaby, Palate Kitchen and Kafkas Gastown opening in the last few months, Nemesis is up there with the best of the coffee shops that exist in the city, and probably what I’ve seen globally.
It’s a masterpiece of design.
Laptop users: try to stick to the bakery window stools.
Location wise it sort of depends on where you are. If you’re coming from Vancouver, here are some tips.
- Don’t go at rush hour
- Try to leave before 1 pm
- If you leave after then, go at 3:45
That being said, there are loads of buses nearby and the Seabus is about 2 minutes’ walk away. There are a few paid parkades around the place (Look for Time Market, it’s $5 for 2 hours) as well as loads of free 1hr parking closeby and 2 hour spots a short walk away. I don’t expect these to stay long though, as Lower Lonsdale gets busier and they turn into meter spots.
The bathrooms are outside of the venue, so no score here.
Nemesis has a heavy focus on staff happiness and training. It really shows in the attitude and liveliness of the staff at Nemesis Polygon.
Full disclosure – the Nemesis staff all know me so, instead, I people watched. Every single person that came in got welcomed warmly with high fives and hugs given out in abundance.
Other than that the staff know their product inside out and are, more importantly, super coffee nerds.
Which brings me to this guy:
This is Jamie.
He used to have a man-bun but recently got a hair cut. It’s much better now. I would have described him as dashingly handsome before, but now, this motherfucker best end up on GQ or I’m rioting.
So I’m not entirely sure how to feel about North Vancouver. Everything in me says that I need to make jokes about rain and needing passports to get over the bridge. But anywhere around Lower Lonsdale seems to be gold dust these days.
If you’re not going to visit Nemesis Polygon you have C41 Coffee… or House of Funk, Good Lad, Winston… or any of the restaurants, bars and venues that have popped up there in the last 5ish years.
So I guess my perspective is that despite it being in an area that requires a trip through border control and rains sideways 8 days out of 7, Nemesis Polygon is one of those cafes that you just know is an absolute must-visit in any self-respecting coffee snobs list.
Go for the coffee, stay for the food, outstay your welcome because your face is pressed up against the glass wall to the baking area.
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