“Hey you there, in the bushes”, is a phrase I’m used to hearing, so it was a very strange experience when no one shouted that at me when I visited ‘The Garden’, Strathconas latest coffee shop.
For the first time, no one judged me for frolicking among the foliage. Quite the opposite, I was welcomed with a warm smile, an even warmer coffee and some, quite frankly, bloody delicious food… Although I’m not sure if this was just because I had my pants on this time.
Cappuccino – $3.75
Beans: Agro Coffee Roasters
It’s fantastic to see Agro Coffee Roasters‘ beans appearing in another coffee shop. They’re a solid roaster and this was a damn good effort from the team at The Garden. The cappuccino was smooth and silky, with a decent espresso to milk ratio.
Filter Coffee – Medium Roast – $2.50
Beans: Agro Coffee Roasters
Another decent effort here, with a Peruvian bean. Easy drinking, well balanced and definitely exactly what you’d expect from a medium roast Puru, with some brown sugar and almond notes.
In addition to the coffee, there’s a bevy of tea drinks, juices and some fun alt-lattes from Blume.
Mushroom Bowl – $12
I could tell you that this thing was a symphony of flavours, with al dente rice, tasty mushrooms and some crisp veg… but instead, I’m going to direct your attention to that subtle little egg you see there.
That simple little guy is quite possibly the best ramen egg (also known as Ajitsuke Tamago for any of my fellow ramen snobs) I’ve ever had in my life. It’s better here than at any of the ramen joints I’ve been to in the city.
Cubano Sandwich – $9
Before you send me hatemail, I know this isn’t a true Cubano sandwich, but I don’t give a shit because this thing was flippin’ delicious.
It’s extremely rich, nicely cheesy but not too overpowering, the bread is chewy and delicious (it’s from Fife, of course it’s amazing) and the house-made pickles add an acidic bite to the dish that brings all the flavours together to get to know each other in your mouth. I would eat these every day if I could.
The ‘Clearly is Made of Crack Cocaine’ Chocolate Cookie – $3.75
Vancouver has its fair share of addiction issues. I don’t want to make light of something so awful, but I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the fact that I have very real concerns that these cookies contain actual crack cocaine, as they’re honestly the best I’ve ever had in my life.
I have a strange allergy, in that if I eat these too fast I feel like chocolate is coming out of all the pores in my face, aka the chocolate-sweats. About 1/3 of the way through this cookie I got the sweats and it didn’t slow me down one bit.
You know what, stop wasting your life reading this stupid website, no description I give is going to give them justice, GO AND BUY ONE OF THESE NOW.
The venue of The Garden is exactly like you’d expect from the name – it’s very garden-like.
There’s greenery everywhere, accented with beautiful fixtures, dark metal and dark wood. I’m especially fond of their colour choices for the paint, which are darker stone-like shades that I’ve never seen in any cafe before.
My only gripe with the space is that seating is pretty limited, due to a large portion of the venue being taken up by a small shop selling homewares, candles and other goods.
I’m curious to see how this works out, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more seating added in future, as I’m sure this is going to be a really popular spot for brunch.
Official Snobby Award – the only bathrooms in Vancouver that you’re almost guaranteed to smell better on the way out, than the way in!
Firstly they’re immaculate and impeccably designed (that wallpaper must have cost a fortune) but my favourite part is easily their fancy smelling air freshener!
The Garden is in a bit of a no man’s land for coffee shops. So, in theory, they should be pretty successful here, especially with the new apartment blocks opening across the road. There’s loads of free on-street parking all around the venue, as well as lots of buses stopping outside. Protip: watch the side roads, there are some 30 min spots and on two out of my three visits I saw a bloodthirsty parking attendant skulking closeby in the shadows. For the health conscious there’s a Mobi station just around the corner, but don’t expect to bike home after the chocolate chip cookie.
Huge smiles from everyone as you walk in, as well as a team of baristas that know their products really well. I did my stereotypical “I don’t know what to have, everything sounds so good” line with the menu (legit, everything sounded amazing) and the barista made some recommendations after asking what kind of foods I like to usually eat.
It was also great to see the owners working alongside their staff, cleaning up, bringing out food and chatting with the patrons.
Bonus points for one of the owners, Anna, not getting weirded out when I pretty much shouted “ERMAGERD THOSE COOKIES WERE AMAZING” into the kitchen whilst she was, y’know, trying to do her damn job.
Have I mentioned how good the cookies are yet?
I think an accurate description of The Garden came from Reddit recently, “I’m embarrassed by how long it took me to realize The Garden Strathcona is a coffee shop and not a posh interior design firm”. This is how stunning the place is from the outside. The team has created a unique and relaxing space with some solid coffee and fantastic food.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to mainline those cookies into my veins. I’m hoping the chocolate sweats last longer that way.