Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Corner Suite Bistro closed? Yup. And Sweeney's and Fiasco.

Vancouver foodies were shocked to learn on Twitter yesterday that Corner Suite Bistro, a popular and hip French bistro in the West End, had closed its doors permanently without warning. This is just after many local journalists were touting it as one of Vancouver's best restaurants of 2010.

Rumours were spreading on Twitter that they had a failed negotiation with their landlord. Others speculated that it was simply due to them having the wrong location or inconsistent staff. It was even suggested that BC's tougher alcohol penalties have threatened the restaurant industry as a whole.

While people were speculating the closure, others were commiserating their Groupon and gift certificate losses. Groupon was active on Twitter today saying that once the closure has been confirmed,  they'll get in touch with people about reimbursement. I'm just glad I used mine when I did back in October but I feel bad for those who have to deal with this aftermath.

On a similar note, I was saddened to learn that Sweeney's of Yaletown - a gourmet, slow-food cafe where I ate many a delicious lunch this past summer - has closed its doors. Apparently they just weren't getting the dinner crowds, despite their popularity at lunch. Imagine a restaurant where the food is organic, most items are under $12, you can buy wine by the glass, and there's a new fresh feature every day - the pulled-beef tacos with mango and chipotle were to die for! The only catch is that you order at the counter, but they'll bring your food to the table. That's not really a catch for the Yaletown lunch crowd - most of us don't live in Yaletown, but we work here. The Yaletown dinner crowd? That's a different story. People come to Yaletown looking to be spoiled, to be wined and dined in luxury, and unfortunately, it seems that Yaletown wasn't the appropriate niche for Sweeney's. It's a shame, but at least they're spending the next few months finding a more appropriate location. May I make a suggestion to them? South Cambie needs you. So does Commercial Drive. So does Riley Park.

Unsurprisingly, Fiasco shut its doors the other week. "Fiasco? What's Fiasco?" Exactly. Formerly Amacord, they reopened as what I'm guessing was supposed to be a typical Yaletown loft space, but it was stark, dark, and lacked an inviting atmosphere. The tables, for example, were naked. The lights? The lights were lacking - the place looked closed from the outside. The bored-looking waitstaff didn't help. It simply felt unfinished from the get-go. Always empty at lunch, we decided to check out their $10 lunch specials regardless. The food was always tasty (steak sandwich with goat cheese and roma tomatos for $10?), but being served a lipstick stained water glass when we were the only patrons in the restaurant was, in retrospect, a bad omen. Upon the next visit, they told us they were changing chefs and menus - a new chef from NYC would be arriving soon. When we came back a few weeks later, gone were the $10 specials and the lunch menu consisted of overpriced pasta dishes. Two weeks later? They were closed. In this case it wasn't the closure that surprised me, but at the haste of which it was done. Wow.

We're 5 days into 2011. I wonder what other restaurant surprises lurk on the horizon?


Robyn said...

Hrmm... news that Les Amis du Fromage are closing their Park Royal (West Van) location. Crappy!

Wanderlusting said...

That sucks, I loved that shop!

Sad now that I never had a chance to check out Sweeneys - I hadn't heard of it before. Hopefully I can check out their new location.

Katie said...

Too bad about Corner Suite, I'll miss their turquoise chairs!

Robyn said...

I know, it blows! At least Les Amis du Fromage have their W 2nd location (... and aren't they affiliated with Au Petit Chavignon? Maybe I'm hallucinating that...)

In an case, Sweeney's was a treat - my go-to place in Yaletown. I'll definitely miss it. I just hope they'll be able to reopen somewhere where it really works for them. Defintely was worth a visit.

Katie, weren't those turquise chairs great? Somebody on Twitter was wondering if they'd be up for sale. Hrmmm...

Erin said...

I had a very nice dinner experience at Sweeney's and made a mental note to go back, particularly for their raved-about lunches. Glad to hear they're only relocating. My fingers are crossed for them.

Among Sweeney's list of attributes, you mentioned "wine by the glass"-- how about wine by the half-glass? For a lightweight like me, that was AMAZING-- I could enjoy a glass or two of wine at dinner without feeling woozy or having to worry about driving home. Very much appreciated that!

Robyn said...

I had no idea they offered wine by the half-glass! Very cool.

But yeah, my fingers are crossed for them as well. They had a fantastic attitude, a great concept, and amazing food!