Living and working in Kitsilano, a neighbourhood filled with amenities, I don’t often have the chance to explore Mount Pleasant, but each time I do head over, I’m amazed at how much the area has grown and evolved since the nearly 10 years we’ve called Vancouver home.
A wealth of locally-run businesses call this former working class neighbourhood home. The area is steeped in history, officially named in 1888 after the Irish birthplace of the wife of H.V. Edmonds, the original owner of much of the Mount Pleasant area.
At the turn of the 20th century, Mount Pleasant included four breweries, a train station, two slaughter houses, a tannery, and the city’s first skyscraper. Also known as Vancouver’s first suburb, many Mount Pleasant homes have undergone several restorations, including an 1891 wood frame home at 166 West 10th Avenue.
Today, the well-visited area offers a colourful and eclectic mix of boutiques, bars, cafés, music venues and restaurants, with many young Vancouverites moving into what’s now being called the city’s hottest residential real estate markets. It makes sense — Skytrain, Canada Line, and bus lines are all in close proximity.
Earlier this week, a group of bloggers were invited to experience Mount Pleasant on a late afternoon community crawl. In just a short couple of hours, we visited a few shops and restaurants all within a few blocks of one another.
We began with a brief coffee tasting at Kafka’s Coffee House, close to the corner of Main and West Broadway. From pour-over coffees to espressos, Kafka’s has gotten a reputation for serving up some of the best brews and teas in the area.
Much & Little is artistically filled with curated goods from as many local producers as possible, from chocolate to cedar cutting boards (made by the tenant upstairs!). Owner Sarah Savoy opened the shop three years ago and expanded back in March as the space next door became available when cycling shop Whoa! Nellie moved out.
This lifestyle shop has a beautiful variety of home goods, gifts, children’s and women’s clothes and more. Sarah wanted to find items in her shop that had a story to tell; she’s also very happy to be part of this easily accessible, community-minded neighbourhood.
French Made Baking owners Catherine and David opened just three short years ago; since my earlier visit there, they’ve opened a back room for enjoying their lovely sweets, coffee, and Kusmi Teas. They’ll start serving brunch in March too. I’m already looking forward to returning for a weekend croissant and a pot of freshly-brewed tea.
The shop is well known for their Canelés de Bordeaux and macarons. On our visit, Catherine was busy in the kitchen preparing macarons with vanilla bean centers.
French Made also uses Valrohna chocolate for filling the tiny delicacies. This has to be my favourite sweet to enjoy with tea and makes daily exercise worth the indulgence!
On to The Cascade Room, a Main Street fixture for the last seven years. General Manager Dale Styner has 16 years’ experience in bartending, and has served as Cascade’s GM for the past two and a half. In the back room, we learned the fine art of creating a Ramos Gin Fizz, a 1888 New Orleans invention, originally named the New Orleans fizz.
The secret to its success is having the straw stand up in its glass without any added ice. This is also a time-intensive cocktail to prepare as it takes a whole lotta shaking!
In fact, we learned that back in the day, Shaker Boys were hired as it took about eight minutes of continual shaking to perfect the Fizz. We paired up and most of us were successful in making the straw stand (our second drink had a straw tilt, so I’m showing the winner here).
We wrapped up at The Independent on Main’s brand new presentation centre at 2500 Main Street. It’s that modern building with brown, powder blue, and white tiles you see at the corner of Main and West Broadway. The Independent is slated to be complete in 2017.
For now, you can check out preview suites of studio, one, and two bedroom homes onsite as sales begin early next month.
The Independent includes 258 homes and was designed by award-winning Mount Pleasant-based Acton Ostry Architects. Each home takes both urban livability and practicality in mind, the spaces infused with colour, patterns, modern fixtures, custom storage units, state-of-the-art induction cooktops, air-conditioning, balconies and cost efficient floor plans.
A 20,000 square foot private backyard will contain a play area, green space, urban agriculture, hammocks, and a dog run, all right in the heart of the ‘hood.