Review: It’s Easy to Be Attracted to The Magnet

The new downtown spot brings some life to a mostly stale 'hood.

The new downtown spot brings some life to a mostly stale ‘hood.

One of the surest ways to get someone excited for a new restaurant is to list any previous endeavours the team opening it has in the city.

And so it shouldn’t be surprising that The Magnet, opened in April by the team behind two of the best beer-focused programs in town—the Alibi Room and Brassneck—has been on my list for awhile now.

I was equally intrigued by the somewhat odd location choice (it’s on Pender between Homer and Hamilton), which hasn’t seen much in the way of culinary invention since the original Meat and Bread a block away (though the emergence of Autostrada across the street doesn’t hurt).

The room—packed when I visited at 6 p.m. on a weeknight—is expertly designed with booths lining the sides and tables taking up the centre of the room. Because the ceiling is quite high, sound bounces around the place like a tennis ball, so it can be a little tough to have an intimate conversation.

But let’s be real. You’re here for the beer. And The Magnethas you covered there.

One of the better, more ambitious lists in the city, there are two pages—one of which focuses on sours and fruity beers—with about 15 selections each. On this night, the guest tap belonged to House of Funk Brewing Co., a recently opened North Vancouver outfit that specializes in fruity flavours and was by far the most popular stand at this year’s Craft Beer Week Festival.

House of Funk, which is impossible to find at local liquorstores and often sells out of bottles at its own brewery, was a great fit forthis list for both its style and its rareness. Concoctions like a raspberrybrett ale and a kiwi and lime sour IPA represented the North Van haunt well.

But there were some other stunners as well: a beautiful strawberry saison from Field House Brewing Co. in Abbotsford was perfectly tart, while another rare brewer, the Vancouver-based Superflux, had a few offerings, including a delicious hazy session IPA.

The decidedly (but not overwhelmingly) British food menu (meat pies and scrumpets were on offer) hit the right notes, too. A kale house salad was nicely flavoured and big enough for a meal, while the fried prawn sandwich with smoked sockeye mayo was annoying only in that it had to eventually come to an end.

And though it may strike some diners as too casual, I wasloving the order-at-the-bar service. They bring the food to you, but you pickup your drinks at the bar. And of course the staff is more than happy to haveyou run up a tab so you can freely order drinks.

But in the end, it’s not even that hard on the wallet. Flightsof three five-ounce pours are $11 each. Considering that Superflux, forexample, hawks four-packs for close to $20, that’s not a terrible deal. Foodgets close to $20 for mains, but that’s par for the course once you cross thebridge.

It’s open from the late afternoon to 11:30 p.m. and I havethis weird feeling I’ll use just about any excuse to pop by the neighbourhoodfrom now on.

The Magnet

309 W Pender St.