315 Carrall Street
T: 604 681 5776
Brief Description: A charming no-frills café in Gastown that offers some of the best coffee in Vancouver with simple, honest food. Prices are exceptionally fair.
It is with hesitation that I review and post to the world about this new find. So selfish am I that I want to keep this little gem to myself so that it doesn’t get too popular. It is already quite difficult to get a seat on a Saturday morning…
Nelson the Seagull is a rare find in a city full of cookie-cutter chain restaurants and uninspiring Starbucks. Even the name has a very interesting story behind it. Nelson the Seagull is the real deal; honest, simple, charming. Let me explain…
The food, and preparation of said food, is honest. Almost all of the food is made in-house from local products, with a push towards organic (I love that they use organic milk for the coffee). From the fresh baked goods, to the spongy ciabatta, to their very own almond milk, it all comes from the Seagull’s kitchen. You can see for yourself in the open concept kitchen.
The menu is simple. Breakfast relies mostly on poached eggs and freshly baked ciabatta to make up the crux of the breakfast, with additions such as pastrami, avocado, or roasted mushroom and tomato, to beef it up. Other items on the minimal breakfast menu are home-made toasted muesli, which is served with the aforementioned almond milk and agave syrup, as well as avocado on toast, or porridge.
Lunch is a selection of sandwiches (carnivore, ploughmans, or herbivore), salad, soup, or a picnic board. Plus, there is daily selection of fresh baked treats, such as bacon and egg baskets (very delicious), cakes, or muffins. See? Simple! The coffee, I’m surprised to say, would have to be some of the best in Vancouver. Yeah, I said it. I find myself knocking them back fast, just so I can order another. They even have flat whites! Prices are very reasonable with all menu items under $10.
The space is charming, with a lot of personality. First, there is the location. It is smack-bang in the middle of the grittiness of Gastown. Second, the décor is memorable. Nelson has nested (sorry, I couldn’t resist) in a building with a lot of character and rather than change this, the owners have embraced it. The large space is open and airy, thanks to large street-front windows and high ceilings.
Original old mosaic tiles (complete with flaws) cover the floor. Comfy couches, wooden picnic benches, minimal hanging art, and vases of flowers, help the dining room to feel more like a welcoming lounge-room. I can’t help but want to linger. Don’t forget to check out their mail system!
My only complaint is the hours. They open from 9am to 6pm Monday through Friday (too late for me to pop in before work), Saturdays from 10am to 6pm, and, unfortunately, no Sundays. According to their website Sunday openings are coming soon. I sure hope so. It is very cruel to have my visits limited to just once a week. I need that latte!
Final Thoughts: No hesitations – you’ve got to get down there, even if it is just for the coffee. But you won’t be disappointed with the food so why are you holding out?