Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Savoury Heavenly Flavours at Red Wagon

Red Wagon has been open for about a year and it's been getting a lot of positive buzz since it opened its doors on the southwest corner of Garden and East Hastings. This diner is the first restaurant from owner and cook Brad Miller, who's been working in notable kitchens such as West, Pastis, and Au Petit Chavignol before striking it on his own. Along with the new-ish Lucy's Eastside Diner, Acme Cafe, Deacon's Corner, it's a part of Vancouver diner renaissance movement. They started doing strictly breakfast/brunch service and now has extended its hours to include a dinner service. It's become a beloved East Van institution that gets crazy blog blog love and positive write ups. The attention hasn't just been local, in fact TV host Guy Fieri and his Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives film crew visited the diner recently and Red Wagon will be one of the Vancouver restaurants featured on an episode of the Food Network show, scheduled to screen in late 2011 or early 2012.

Red Wagon is a bit off the beaten path for me, so even though I've been interested and intrigued- I've never dined there. Finally, my buddy Jobin and I planned to meet there for dinner to try their signature "Pulled Pork Pancakes."
The crowd was eclectic and the room was comfortably busy, but not packed when I arrived at Red Wagon— families, young singles, elderly couples and some hipsters filled the tables. The atmosphere and decor evoke an old-time diner, but the effect is subtle, simple and classy, and not overdone – a wide lunch counter sits in front of an open kitchen window, wall art made from retro Coca-Cola and Orange Crush signs decorate the vintage wood panels.

 The venue is small enough to feel homey but is still bright, open and not cramped at all. One downer, I think they have cheap single pain windows so it was actually kind of chilly in there. But for something amazing....there actually is a vintage red wagon that is full of colouring books.

The menu is full of delicious sounding higher-end comfort food that would have made it tough to decide....if I hadn't done my research and been salivating all day over the promise of two dishes. We ordered Pulled Pork Pancakes and the Smoked Short Rib and Brie sandwich.

Our food came out pretty quickly (15-20 minutes) later. Service was really friendly and really efficient, especially considering that there was one server working the room.

Pulled Pork Pancakes: Jack Daniels Maple Syrup, 3 buttermilk pancakes layered with pulled pork $12.50

I don't usually gravitate towards pancakes but I'm so glad I ordered this "must-taste"(according to Vancouver Magazine) dish. It was amazing and all of the elements worked extremely well together. The pancakes were soft, cakey, fluffy, with a bit of density, and they aren't sweet. The shredded slow-cooked pork was generously sandwiched between the pancakes.

The meat wasn't dry, but wasn't overly juicy/saucy either which meant the pancakes didn't get soggy. The pork had a nice savoury, hickory bbq flavour with a slight kick from vinegar and chipotle flavours. I don't think this dish would work if the pulled pork was sweet. The maple-whisky syrup is sweet with a slight kick and actually ties the dish together with the melted butter pat on top.

Smoked Short Rib and Brie, Sherried Onions, Arugula, on Ciabatta, Chips, Pickle $12

The sandwich was also delicious that Jobin and I were both kind of wishing there was more. It was a textural and ooey, gooey taste experience. The beef was tender and melded with the brie cheese, the sherried onions added depth and a bit of sweetness, and the arugula added a bit of a fresh kick and lightened the sandwich up a bit.

The ciabatta was the perfect bread to soak up the juices. It was served with in-house made crispy kettle chips, which tasted fresh and weren't too greasy, and 3 mini dill pickles.

This place lives up to all the hype and I will definitely be back. Yummmmmm!

The Red Wagon on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Vincent N said...

Hi Missy,
A friend of mine on Yelp recommended I check out Red Dragon to take an out of town guests, so I figured I would do some research and I ended up on your blog.

I have to say I'm definitely going to try to the pulled pork pancake when I head off there.

But the thing I really enjoyed was how beautiful your writing is. It's fantastic. Keep up the great blogging.