Restaurant: Gene Cafe
Last visited: September 19, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Main Street/Mount Pleasant)
Address: 2404 Main Street
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food/Drinks: 4.5 (based on coffees)
- Locally owned and operated
- Popular to locals
- Specializes in coffee
- For real coffee drinkers
- Very simple menu
- Very “Main Street”
- Attracts hipsters
- Small selection of food
- Free wi-fi
- Open daily 7:30am-7pm
**Recommendations: It depends what you like, but the latte, cappuccino and ginger cocoa were all great.
How cute is this tear drop shaped cafe? Ok so it’s definitely a place for “Main Street” locals *ahem* hipster alert… but what do you expect? It’s located near The Foundation Lounge (another hipster joint) in the tail end of a building facing a super busy intersection. The building is also home to Budgie’s Burritos and The Wallflower Modern Diner. Although it’s very visible, it’s also very narrow and very easily missed unless you’re looking for it. It’s a bit of a hidden gem it what looks like a run down building, but the unusual architecture is enough to draw you in.
It’s always busy with people studying, reading and using their free wi-fi while others sit on the benches outside to “get fresh air”… or people watch. How much fresh air can one get with the high volume of traffic that goes on in this intersection? It’s a bit intimidating going in, but I felt much more comfortable after putting on my glasses without lenses 😉
The layout is simple yet random with small tables tucked in every corner (for people who want privacy), small tables facing the street (for people who want privacy and want to get dizzy by the busy traffic), a bar (for people who want to people watch), and a communal table (for bigger groups or for those who like to chit chat with randoms).
I was looking for Matcha Latte and then realized I was in the wrong part of town. It’s one of those real cafes, with a simple menu, that specializes in coffee for real coffee drinkers. My immediate reaction was to draw comparisons to my favourite coffee places Elysian Coffee and 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters Cafe. Those cafes are a bit more posh and sophisticated in style and atmosphere, but the coffee at Gene Cafe was just as good or at least almost as good.
Looking at the menu I contemplated the Polish Pillow, which sounded like a sick joke or a home made fluffy Polish cookie… but it was neither. My assumptions were a bit more exciting as I discovered the Polish Pillow was actually a very sweet drink made from instant coffee.
Gene Cafe also offers a small selection of baked goods and breakfasts, and by small selection I mean they offer 2 kinds of cookies, 1 loaf, and 1 made in house breakfast egg wrap. They may have a 2-3 more items, but this was basically it when I was there. All in all it was a fun place and I would come again, but next time with my laptop and vintage frock.
On the table:
- A very good latte! It was hot, strong, creamy and slightly bitter, but not burnt at all. It had a naturally sweet taste, but I still like Elysian Coffee and 49th Parallel better though.
- I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine and it was stronger than I though. About an hour later I was pretty wide awake and full of energy.
- It had a very thick top layer of frothy foam and it’s not as milky or creamy as the latte obviously. Again, the beans are strong in flavour, but not burnt.
- It was served nice and hot and it was stronger than the latte.
- I liked this a lot! Ginger is really growing on me because I used to know like it as much. It’s a surprisingly light drink that’s not that sweet at all. Hot chocolate is sweeter.
- I could taste the ginger more than chocolate. The ginger is aromatic and the taste gets stronger as you drink it because it wasn’t that obvious with the first sip. It lingers a little bit of heat at the end, but it’s not spicy.
- I think the chocolate they used was real chocolate too because it left a creamy melted chocolate smear on the spoon.
- It brought back memories of the steamed ginger organic soy milk I enjoyed so much from Life Cafe Organic Restaurant & Bar in Hong Kong.
- Bake sale cookie. It was a medium sized dome shaped cookie. Not bad, but not great.
- I think they were home made, but they weren’t as good as they looked and it could have been out sourced and that wouldn’t surprise me either.
- It was almost like an cake cookie with a soft texture, but it wasn’t that chewy. It has an oatmeal cookie texture so it’s a bit dry and crumbles more than expected.
- I could taste cinnamon and there were tons of pecan pieces throughout but I could have used more banana taste.