1115 Granville Street
T: 604 687 8001
Brief Description: It’s all about sharing and drinks at The Refinery on Granville Street. Boards of cheese and cured meats go hand-in-hand with glasses of wine. Prices are moderate and the atmosphere is welcoming.
When I think of prime restaurant locations in Vancouver, my mind does not usually wander towards the seedier side of Granville Street. Besides Sanafir, I really am at a loss as to come up with many other restaurants that would be worth a visit to one of my least favourite streets in Vancouver. This stretch of potential prime real estate appears to have been overlooked by restaurateurs. Yet, deep amongst the late night bars and questionable stores, The Refinery has put its roots downs and offers a retreat from the madness of Granville Street. With its location hidden above Sip, you’d be forgiven if you had no clue that it was there. Climbing the stairs from the street level, you are greeted by a dark, warm room. Wood is the key element and the room feels very rustic and raw. As a bonus, the owners have gone the extra mile and ensured that they were being ecologically friendly when designing the space. Their website is full of information on the steps that they took, and continue to take, to run their business with a focus on being environmentally friendly.
The concept of The Refinery is a simple one: charcuterie + booze = pretty simple. There is slightly more to it than just that but for the most part the menu is made up of cheeses and meats paired together, with a focus on sharing. There are cameos from assorted salads, flatbreads and sandwiches but the lure is really the cheese and the meat. And that’s what B and I went there for. That, and the booze. The alcohol menu is a good one – there is a considerable amount of wines by the glass, which is appealing to someone like me who can’t always make a choice. With an extensive wine and beer representation, I’d be inclined to return just for drinks alone.
Considering it was our first visit there, we thought that we should order a good selection of food so that we could get a good insight in to what is on offer. With that in mind, we ordered the Grand Tasting Menu. It is a $39pp set menu and had an offering from most sections of the menu. So here we go…
We started with dips (hummus and a white bean truffle) and bread, and olives which were a simple, yet enjoyable introduction to the meal. Once we had dipped all of our bread and stripped all of the olives down to their pips, we moved on to the nicoise salad.
Consisting of seared tuna, pickled green beans, nicoise olives, quail egg, potato, butter lettuce and an anchovy-citrus vinaigrette, the salad was fresh and quite substantial; however, it was just a salad so there really isn’t much to delve too deeply into.
The prosciutto flatbread was next up and this was quite nice although very filling. Covered in prosciutto, brie and a cippolini onion jam it was pretty decadent making the next course, the Chef’s board, a hard one to finish even though I absolutely love cured meats and assorted cheeses. The Chef’s board wasn’t exceptional, although there were some nice little additions such as nuts, pickles and red peppers. The best bit about the board was that the servings of cheese and meat were exceptionally generous. You can see the mounds of cured meat and the big wedges of cheese in the photos. This would normally be a dream come true but, unfortunately, none of the cheeses or meats really stood out.
The final dish was dessert and instead of having the goats cheese (my nemesis) cake we asked if they could swap it for the chocolate créme brulee, finished with hazelnut brittle and sea salt biscotti, which they did with no issues at all.
Unfortunately, it just didn’t do it for me. It was incredibly rich, not in a “give-me-more” way but more “Ugh, it’s too rich” way. It just wasn’t a good dessert (I can’t believe those words came from my mouth).
Final Thoughts: Overall, I wasn’t that taken with The Refinery. I hate to say that as they didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just that I was very underwhelmed. I would return but only for a glass of wine and a cheese plate but overall, I think that Salt (in Gastown) already has my heart when it comes to cheese and wine bars.