I have never been to the bistro at the Vancouver Art Gallery but I have long been advised it has the best patio in the city (I guess I just have the kind of face people like to tell their patio opinions to, don't be jealous). I can appreciate the view over Robson Square—designed by the late, great Arthur Erickson as a place for hip-hop dancers to rehearse during the skating rink off-season—but I always found it suspicious that the bistro's food itself never really came up in conversation. Also, I'm just generally wary of places that call themselves "bistro" in 2019. (Ditto for "grill" or "gastropub".)
What I'm trying to say is: I didn't have a particular opinion when the nameless bistro closed a few months back. But now that it's open again, this time with a distinct new name (1931 Gallery Bistro, in honour of the year the VAG opened and slightly catchier than "the art gallery bistro") and a designer interior, courtesy of Calgary's Frank Architecture, and evening hours that invite you to pop in for more than just a quick protein-infusion before power-contemplating Group of Seven paintings, I'm downright intrigued.
Yes, there will be grab-and-go options for downtown office workers or art aficionados in a rush to make the big sale/lose themselves in Cindy Sherman retrospective, but 1931 will also offer up more leisurely dining opportunities, with a new brunch, happy hour and dinner menus, all inspired by local, seasonal ingredients (Ocean Wise certification is in the works). Think braised B.C. shortribs (hot tip: do not eat these with your hands and then touch that Douglas Coupland sculpture), roasted cauliflower steaks and duck confit quiches to fuel your art appreciation.
But if you just want to pop by for a drink and skip the culture part all together, I won't judge: I hear it's got the best patio in the city.
1931 Gallery Bistro opens November 28.
Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St.