Restaurant: The Parlour
Cuisine: Pizza/West Coast
Last visited: March 21, 2013
Location: Vancouver, BC (Yaletown)
Address: 1011 Hamilton Street
Phone: (604) 568-3322
Transit: Yaletown-Roundhouse Stn Northbound
Price Range: $10-20+ ($17 pizzas for 2)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Pizza focused
- West Coast style pizzas
- Gas oven
- Energetic/lively crowd
- Good for groups
- Reasonably priced
- Gluten free friendly
- Vegetarian friendly
- Daily drink features
- Dine in/take out/delivery
- Mon-Sun 11:00 am – 12:00 am
**Recommendations: Burrata, Salmon Tartare
You might just miss it walking by, but it had a rather loud opening late last year. People in the neighbourhood are pretty aware of The Parlour by now and it already has a scene. It almost looks like something out of Gastown, but the font is a bit too noticeable – I’m serious.
It was an anticipated opening and it’s a nice independent addition to Yaletown. Over the last 5+ years there has been an increase of chain restaurants in Yaletown which caused the scene to change. The area once pride itself on unique restaurants and small boutiques, but the vibe headed mainstream. I’m not bashing chains because they have their market and I still go on occasion, but I try and support the smaller guys. It’s comparing apples to oranges, so I won’t.
It is interesting that co-owners and brothers Chef Sean and Chris Holland came from Cactus Club Restaurants though. The Parlour has no associations with Cactus Club, but there are similarities in approach to the menu and feel. Their Cactus Club experience is evident and it got them a solid start.
I know it looks empty, but this was only the back end of the restaurant and I was early. On this occasion I was invited, but I had sussed out the place a week before with friends. I came once on a weekday which was decently busy and then once on the weekend which was packed. It wasn’t a night club, but it was certainly lively with that “party-ish” atmosphere and there was a line up out the door. It has an energetic and youthful vibe which caters to a certain crowd, and while it might not be for everyone, it works for the crowd it caters to. The music can get a bit loud so I wouldn’t treat it as an intimate catch up place. It is ambiance focused in a relaxed and upbeat way, and it’s an unpretentious yet stylized restaurant.
It says it right on the menu and I wouldn’t ignore it: “Not from Naples”. I had to take a photo of it to make sure you saw it. The Neapolitan pizza scene in Vancouver exploded over the last couple years, and even though The Parlour’s main feature is pizza, they do not specialize in Neapolitan pizza. This is West Coast style pizza, so it is not comparable to Neapolitan pizza. If you are a “pizza snob” and thrive on authenticity then this place may not be for you, but if you want good food at decent prices and you are not picky, then this works.
The menu is very approachable and they’re not trying to reinvent anything here. It’s simple food prepared upon order with a couple playful twists. I wouldn’t really call it a “foodie” place, but it does what it needs to do, and it does that well. It makes the market it caters to happy and entertained. That market isn’t necessarily me, although I could see myself coming back if I was in Yaletown with a group of people with mixed tastes. The restaurant plays it safe and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it just wasn’t particularly exciting. It is a good pizza and beer place that works for any time of day on any day of the week.
In terms of consistency, I’ve only been twice so I can’t say, but both times were equal. I can’t really see them having issues with consistency because the menu isn’t very complicated. The menu had all the traditional staples and basics and then some random items I felt were a bit out of place. It is definitely a West Coast restaurant with Italian influences, but it’s not Italian and it isn’t trying to be. The portions and value were reasonable, and that combo is unfortunately hard to find these days especially in this area. It is easier to appreciate if you come without your “foodie” hat on and just take it for what it is. Knowing what to expect helped me understand it and enjoy it more too.
On the table:
- Prosecco, Triple Sec, Brandy, Orange, Key Lime, Grapes $8
- This is a popular choice on their cocktail list and I enjoyed it.
- It was quite strong but not too sweet and quite orange and citrus flavoured.
- It would be perfect for the summer… or for brunch. It was Mimosa like.
- Wisers, Lillet, lemon, ginger, egg white $12
- I found the cocktails a bit pricey for the type of restaurant and I was expecting a $10 max cocktail list.
- That being said, these are doubles so $12 is reasonable for the area. This is a drinking place.
- This was more tart than sweet and I would not consider it a sweet cocktail.
- It had body from the egg white and it wasn’t spicy, but I could feel the heat of ginger.
- It was full in flavour with the Wisers, but it wasn’t too boozy and there were nice citrus notes throughout.
- Steelhead, Seaweed, Bonito, Sesame Seeds, Macadamia Nuts, Ponzu Aioli, Micro Cilantro $14
- This was unexpected, but the menu is West Coast more so than Italian. This is a house favourite.
- It was their West Coast answer to traditional bruschetta and it was served with garlic toasts which weren’t very garlicky.
- The bread was soft and chewy so I would have preferred crunchy crostini.
- I’m not sure why they didn’t serve it with crunchy pizza bread and I would have loved to see them put the pizza oven to full use.
- The salmon tartar itself was actually very good although a bit wet. It usually isn’t served this wet.
- I could taste all the components and I loved the texture of the crunchy Macadamia nuts to contrast the creamy avocado and salmon.
- It was a very buttery and rich tartar so the ponzu sauce gave it the acidity it needed.
- I could taste some sesame oil and ginger in the vinaigrette too so the flavours committed to being Asian.
- I don’t think the bonito (smoked fish) flakes were needed though because together with the seaweed it enhanced the fishiness of the dish.
- Bonito can be quite strong and I felt it overpowered the natural flavour of the Steelhead and I wanted that to be the highlight.
- The red onion could have been minced a bit more too because it was a bit large and aggressive.
- Despite my preferences and tweaks, I still liked this appetizer and it was very typical of Vancouver tastes.
**Burrata – 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)
- Prosciutto, Apricot Port Reduction, Frisée & Bacon salad $17
- This is another house favourite and I really enjoyed it that I ordered it again.
- First off, it’s burrata. It’s hard to go wrong. The only way to go wrong is serving expired burrata or poor quality burrata.
- This was standard burrata, but the quality was decent and it was very fluffy, creamy and soft.
- I love sweet and savoury so I knew I would like this combo.
- It was salty prosciutto, creamy rich burrata, crispy sweet and salty bacon on crunchy crostini drizzled with olive oil and apricot port reduction.
- The reduction was on the sweet side and it could have been cut with a bit more balsamic vinegar, but I did enjoy it.
- I couldn’t tell if it was fig or apricot reduction, but it was sweet, syrupy and jam like. It was well reduced and the alcohol was cooked off.
- It was an appetizer you could make at home, but I could still appreciate it and would order it again.
- Garlic, Shallots, Jalapeño, Pine Nuts, Sweet Soy Sauce $9
- If I wasn’t Asian I would appreciate this a lot more and this is another house favourite.
- This tasted like mom’s home cooking and it was basically a broccoli and red bell pepper stir-fry.
- The sauce was thin and it was savoury and slightly sweet with a bit of tang from lemon juice.
- It tasted like soy sauce and Mirin and the flavours were Chinese and Japanese.
- It was slightly spicy from what I am fairly confident is from Sriracha sauce.
- The veggies were sauteed until tender and there wasn’t much oil which was nice.
- It was a good vegetable dish and mom would be happy. All I needed was a bowl of rice and some sautéed beef.
- I found it odd as an appetizer, but it was very appropriate as a side, however the mains were sandwiches and pizzas.
- Albacore Tuna, Red Onion, Green Onion, Avocado, Cilantro, Spicy Aioli $17 +$2 for half & half pizzas.
- The pizzas and crust are not to be compared to Neapolitan pizzas, but to give an idea they are thicker and denser than them.
- These are West Coast style pizzas and it wasn’t quite a flatbread pizza, but it was a bready dough although not tiresome to chew.
- This is the most popular pizza and to be honest it wasn’t my favourite, so maybe it’s just me.
- The description was very appealing to me and I wanted to order it, but the end result wasn’t what I imagined.
- It was a Californian and Asian inspired pizza, but it couldn’t really decide what it wanted to be.
- The sauce base was a house made tomato sauce and I found it a bit odd to have with Albacore tuna sashimi.
- The tomato sauce was quite tangy too so it stood out.
- It was thicker than Neapolitan tomato pizza sauce and thinner than American tomato pizza sauce.
- I was hoping the sauce would be an avocado purée instead.
- It was a light and fresh pizza and almost like a tuna sashimi salad on a pizza.
- The tuna was thinly sliced in a single layer on the pizza and I couldn’t taste much of it with the thicker crust and stronger sauce.
- There was a lot of raw onion flavour going on and it started to remind me a bit of salsa with the chunkier tomato sauce.
- I would have loved the onions deep fried crispy or even just the sauce changed.
- I liked the chunks of avocado on top which was the replacement for cheese, but I would have liked it better as the sauce.
- It was a nice and spicy pizza with spicy aioli and sliced jalapeños, but I would have preferred the jalapeños minced and sprinkled all over.
- Each quarter slice of the pizza had one single jalapeño so I only got it in one bite.
- Apparently it was executed that way so people could take the jalapeños off, but I don’t know if that made the most sense.
- It was a good pizza, but I liked the Salmon Tartare better if I’m comparing Asian influenced West Coast food using raw fish.
This photo isn’t even necessary because it is not a Neapolitan style pizza, but just in case you’re curious. It is a gas oven so the charring and flavour won’t be the same as a wood fired oven. The entire pizza crust is crunchy whereas Neapolitan pizzas are soft and foldable. Apples and oranges.
- Creamed Spinach, Parmesan, Mozza $17 +$2 for half & half pizzas.
- This was a richer pizza and if you like spinach and artichoke dip than you’ll love this.
- It was spinach and artichoke dip spread over a pizza under tomato sauce.
- It was cheesy and a bit pesto like and there was a good amount of salty and nutty Parmesan.
- The toppings weren’t super heavy, but they were flavourful enough that they didn’t need to be.
- It was a fairly traditional pizza without the stingy thick layer of mozzarella cheese.
- I would have loved house roasted artichokes, but these just seemed like the regular artichoke hearts.
- I actually would have loved pine nuts on this or even crispy fried artichoke hearts for texture and variety.
- Caramelize Onion, Mushroom Duxelle, Yukon Gold Potato, Truffle Oil, Gruyere, Mozza $17 +$2 for half & half pizzas.
- If you like truffle oil fries or truffle oil poutine and mushrooms then this is a no brainer.
- I’m not an advocate for truffle oil (see here), but I’ll still eat it and it has its place at casual eateries.
- It was a single layer of thinly sliced creamy and tender Yukon Gold potatoes topped with Mushroom Duxelle (minced mushrooms sautéed with shallots, garlic, onions and herb butter).
- I would prefer whole wild mushrooms, or even just whole regular brown mushrooms instead of mushroom Duxelle which I find works better as a stuffing.
- The mushrooms just seemed more of a garnish than a topping.
- I could smell and taste the truffle oil and there wasn’t a whole lot of Gruyere, but it was cheesy.
- I liked the sweet caramelized onion with the other savoury components and it was a richer pizza that was carb heavy, but that doesn’t bother me.
- I actually would have liked this even more with a rich Alfredo, garlicky cream sauce or bechamel sauce.
- This had more potential to be ultimate comfort food.
- Meatball, Xtra Pepperoni, Banana Pepper, Mozza $17 +$2 for half & half pizzas.
- This was another more traditional pizza so either you’ll love it or compare it to something you’ve had similar to it.
- It had a lot of flavour and I loved the spicy and tangy pickled banana peppers.
- It was a meatier pizza and I actually liked the meatballs which came across as sausage.
- The meatball crumbles were a bit soft, but I could taste some fennel and they were moist and hadn’t dried out in the oven.
- The pepperoni was okay and the pizza wasn’t overwhelmed with cheese.
- The cheese and standard house made tomato sauce are underneath and it’s more about the toppings.
- The toppings aren’t covered with cheese so you know exactly what you’re getting.
- It was a good pizza and it would be considered their “Meat Lovers”.
- Around $7 (?)
- This is not made in house and it was the only dessert option, so the dessert menu needs some work.
- The cheesecake was a standard New York style double baked cheesecake with a graham cracker crust.
- It was fluffier than a traditional New York style cheesecake though and it was rich and creamy as expected.
- The crust seemed spiced with cinnamon and it was topped with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce and strawberry syrup.
- The chocolate sauce tasted like Hershey’s and the strawberry sauce could have been house made.
- I’m not crazy about cheesecake, but I am about desserts. This was okay, but it was just like any other cheesecake.
- Most people would come to The Parlour for drinks and not dessert though, so I can see it not being a priority.