Saturday, January 29, 2011

DTES Delight

This past weekend my mom was visiting from Calgary, and we embarked on an eating out bonanza, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in my life since the last time my parents visited in August. First stop: Acme Café for a cozy dinner on a chilly evening. My mom is one of those out-of-towners (and they are legion) who hear East Vancouver and think Downtown Eastside. In my time living here, I’ve been able to show her that there’s more to East Van than just the DTES, and it was finally time to demonstrate that this particular area has its own charms.

A short walk from our parking spot took us to the Acme Cafe. Much virtual ink has been spilled debating the wisdom and sensitivity of opening a café at this pricepoint in this particular location, but I don’t see any harm in a warm, welcoming and thriving business of any kind. Plus, I don’t think $12 dinner entrees homemade from quality ingredients are stratospherically expensive. Every time I’ve eaten at the Acme, I’ve been among people from all walks of life, which is part of what make East Van (including the DTES) so appealing. I guess it’s outside of some people’s comfort zones, but cookie cutter suburbs are waaaay out of my comfort zone, so there you go.

On this particular night, I overheard one of our fellow diners ask “Cocoa what?” when the server told him the daily crock pot special, which was coq au vin. I’m fairly certain another patron was a local character actor who I keep running across (at the Cultch’s Burlesque New Year’s Eve party, and then again at Canada Screen Casino Jack). It’s a small world, after all. A would-be customer tried to pass a counterfeit twenty, and he too was treated with respect.

But on to the food! I always have a cookie as an appetizer when I come here, simply because they’re so nicely on display and I can’t help myself. This time it was an incredible peanut butter sandwich cookie with chocolate chips.

For the main course, I went out on a limb and tried the High Falutin’ Grilled Cheese with the chicken noodle soup. The sandwich was good, but I think I would have enjoyed the classic grilled cheese more. I kept expecting non-existent turkey, since the High Falutin’ version comes includes some kind of cranberry spread. I usually order the chicken pot pie with salad, which is consistently perfect. My mom loved her shrimp guacamole sandwich with potato chips and broccoli slaw. The real stars of the show here are the desserts. I’ve tried the lemon meringue pie and countless varieties of cookies, but this time we split a slice of key lime pie. It was absolutely delicious: not too sweet, with a golden brown graham crust. Heaven.

Acme Cafe on Urbanspoon

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