Date: 22nd September, 2019
Time: 12 pm – 8 pm
ABOUT THE CAFE
Railtown Café located at the corner of Railway and Dunlevy, which is in the historic Railtown District of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. It was established in 2012 by two Vancouver chefs Dan Olson and Tyler Day. They have been launching this coffee shop for 7 years, and they opened 3 more locations at Granville St, Howe St and Main St. Differs from these busy streets, the place where held the BBQ event was the Railtown Café at 397 Railway St. The café focuses on serving healthy food like salads and sandwiches with veggie options, also house-made pastries and juice.
Railtown Café has its website; guests can easily do some research before going there by the information from the site. The website is designed with the most used colours by the café: white and red. It has every essential thing that a website has: history about the restaurant, locations, menu and contact. However, this website still has a special thing called features. The features part mentions about the new dish in the month, including the price. Moreover, they also have four pages on Facebook, one is the main page, and the others are for each location. We can search for the café via Instagram, too, but it seems like the posts do not attract lots of users.
Railtown Cafe’s Instagram
Railtown Cafe is not a genuinely professional or fine dining restaurant so that a huge award is hard to achieve for this coffee shop. However, it still got some prizes in the business like Vancouver Courier: Stars of Vancouver Awards. Since many people love this cafe, they voted a lot for it. It won 1st Eastside Working Lunch, 3rd Eastside Breakfast/ Brunch, 3rd Downtown Working Lunch, and 3rd Best New Restaurant. They are not big awards, but still spots its position in the coffee shop business.
ATMOSPHERE AND DECOR
We reached the restaurant at 12:00pm, it was outpouring, and we could smell the aroma of the grill from the parking lot, which made us excited. The décor was simple and enjoyable; they had put tents outside, which could accommodate 18-20 people and inside, almost 30-35 could dine together; there was no special decoration done for the bbq event except that they had put a big BBQ grill outside under the tent.
The cafe was not as crowded as we were expecting, maybe because of the weather. Inside, the cafe had an interior of a garage. The walls had cute, vintage cooking tools hanging, which added a cozy atmosphere.
Before the BBQ event started
During the event
We would rate cleanliness 8/10 because food and beverages served to us were clean and hygienic, tables were clean, the area outside was clean, but we could see dirty fans, ceilings and ovens, which did not affect us eating but it wasn’t a pleasant sight. The food trays looked clean and well organized. Garbage bins were covered and kept separately with instructions.
Service was excellent; we would rate service 9/10, manager and server were friendly and kind. When we arrived, we saw a poster that indicated that if customers had reserved online before, we could get under $6 drink for free. Our group did not know about that part, so we asked the managers if we could still sign us up online and get a free drink. Surprisingly, they were very gracious about it and allowed us to sign up. We had no problem with service as it was quick and there wasn’t any chaos, everything was systematically put up. Everything (menu) was mentioned in the brochure with the price which was available online as well as put up in the entrance. There weren’t much of a crowd, which made the service easy.
The brochure with details about the event
INTEGRATION OF MODERN FOOD AND BEVERAGE TRENDS
The word “barbeque” itself originated from the word “barbacoa,” which means to simmer meat on an open fire for several hours. This shows that it is of Spanish origin, and later on, having integrated into the culture of North America (U.S and Canada Barbeque being the prime examples) to become the BBQ of today. However, this form of cooking may even date back further than that as historians and linguists believe that the word “barbacoa” may originate from the word “barabicu,” part of the language of the people of the Caribbean. All of these show that BBQ has always been a very ancient form of cooking. It is having been passed down from one culture to another, from one continent to another, and acts as a bridge between people and regions. Even during the hectic lifestyle of today, BBQ still plays a significant role in connecting people together, though unfortunately not as good as it used to do. BBQ is an occasion for the modern family to deepen their bonds, to meet with family members that usually don’t show up in their life, to make friends with new people (neighbours as a case in point). A BBQ in a restaurant like that of Railtown Cafe plays a similar role; it acts as a way for strangers to connect, to know each other and importantly, to have fun. But of course, how can a BBQ be perfect without the presence of beverages that accompany them. Like with many other restaurants, Railtown Cafe doesn’t have the main focus on a specific type of drinks. Instead, it is split between that of healthy, entertainment, energetic and just about any other beverage that is the current trend. While this means it can’t build its reputation as a specialist in a particular drink, in return, it can serve just about any guess that comes its way.
We would rate them 8/10 on the environmental concern because they served food on paper plates, and they had separate bins for disposing of the garbage. Even the plastic cutlery that they used are eco-friendly, they can be recycled. How amazing it is!
A lot of families and friends came to the event to enjoy their weekend, which made the environment of the cafe cheerful. Socially the plastic cutlery are kids friendly, and because there were a lot of families, it was safer to keep them. Doreen was the only one who drove a car to this event. It was even harder to find parking space because it was pouring outside, which led to limited vision and distraction for driving. There was free street parking near the restaurant. However, there was no empty space because all the other people took it since it was complimentary parking. The next option was a public pay parking nearby. Surprisingly, it had lots of free space, so we thought it was because people had to pay, they would rather choose the free street parking. It was very close to the restaurant, so we were satisfied that we don’t have to walk too far. We thought the parking price worth the money. We got out looking for paying stall, which did not exist. Simran and I looked around and even went into a building next to the parking lot because the sign said paying stall inside the building. We failed to find the paying stall, so we started to drive around the blocks to find available parking. At last, we found a street parking the requires payment. It wasn’t too far from the restaurant as well, so we gladly paid and went to the restaurant. Personally, I couldn’t understand why that area lacked so much parking space because near that area there were not a lot of places to go. It was mostly business buildings.
Plastic plates are much cheaper as compared to paper ones. Still, they chose to keep them, which was a great initiative towards sustainability concerns. As mentioned above, plastic cutlery must be safe because they were expecting kids as people had booked earlier from Eventbrite.
The theme of the event was perfect according to the weather, everyone loves BBQ on a rainy weekend plus it had both non-veg as well as veggie options with soft drinks and alcohol available. But they could have added more food choices for vegetarians and also the siders, and they could include a desert as well. The main theme the management team aimed for was comfort food that is healthy and prepared fresh. Also, for modern people’s lives, they wanted to keep the order preparation relatively fast.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE: TASTE, QUALITY AND PRESENTATION
The taste of food was very average. However, the chicken was not fully cooked, and the vegetable was not marinated. Food was not valued for the money we paid, there was really less option for the main course. Everything they served was freshly made but undercooked. The presentation could have been better because it was like a buffet system that food just got mixed and piled up on a single plate.
BONUS: We did have a good time here though. It is a nice place for friends to gather and have some BBQ meals on a rainy day. Railtown Cafe is a place that is worth a try.
Railtown Cafe Vancouver. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://railtowncafe.ca/.
About. (2016, November 8). Retrieved from https://railtowncafe.ca/about/.
Vancouver Courier: Stars of Vancouver Awards. (2018, May 1). Retrieved from https://railtowncafe.ca/press/vancouver-courier-stars-of-vancouver-awards/.
Vancouver, Canada Events & Things To Do. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.eventbrite.ca/d/canada–vancouver/events/.
Manny. (n.d.). How to Cook Balbacua. Retrieved from http://www.panlasangpinoymeatrecipes.com/balbacua.htm.