Situated in the restaurant “golden triangle” of Vancouver’s edgy Fraserhood district, Crowbar is a casual, intimate neighbourhood restaurant designed to bring people together with flavorful share plates, an inventive cocktail program and a healthy dose of good humour. The restaurant’s name is a cheeky nod to the Fraserhood’s historically colourful nature, as well as a subtle homage to a Will Bullas painting depicting surprisingly amiable crows drinking at a bar. Crowbar is owned and operated by William Johnson, a dedicated restaurateur who works closely with his team to ensure every guest has a wonderful experience. With a background in fine dining, he applies key elements – quality ingredients, creative food, and a wicked list of cocktails – to his concept of an eatery that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Fun and quirky details are incorporated throughout the menu and design, including ‘90s-themed cocktails, gargoyle sculptures and a well-used champagne saber.
Crowbar’s menu of laid-back West Coast contemporary cuisine is best shared amongst friends old and new. A dedicated focus on in-season, organic ingredients translates to a small but ever-evolving, curated list of dishes that are at once intriguing yet familiar. Diners can break the proverbial bread over nose-to-tail meats such as grilled chicken hearts and braised lamb neck, or snack on charred olives, creamy burrata, and popcorn sweet breads with fermented hot sauce. Dishes such as the zucchini aglio e olio and fried broccoli are hits with the vegetarian crowd, while a variety of hearty meat and seafood dishes are sure to satisfy carnivores.
Wherever possible, ingredients are sourced from nearby farmers, fishers and growers. Though menu items vary with the expected whims of Crowbar’s bright chef, a few staples are available year-round, including the decadent dry-aged beef cheeseburger that attracts hungry burger aficionados in droves; fresh pasta made in-house, and bread baked daily and served with organic butter or olive oil.
Crowbar’s cocktail program features 10 to 12 original concoctions fondly named after ‘90s movie characters, and one rotating barrel-aged classic. Drinks change with the seasons and mood of Crowbar’s crafty bartenders, so repeat visitors can look forward to toasting with new libations throughout the year. Ingredients are unexpected and playful, yet come together seamlessly in the glass – think pumpkin spice and cranberry-infused gin, ruby port and clarified goat’s milk, and rum with mango and ginger beer. Rounding out the bar’s well-stocked liquor cabinet are 30-plus wine labels, 12 by-the-glass pours, over a dozen local craft ciders, three draft beers, and up to 10 bottles and cans on offer at one time.
Beyond Crowbar’s humble, matte-black exterior, whitewashed brick walls meet rustic reclaimed wood paneling. The atmosphere is low-lit and intimate, akin to that of a log cabin - that is to say a log cabin stocked from bar-top to ceiling with various liquors, bitters and boozes. Damask-print back cushions spruce up the wood banquette, which sits behind a row of butcher-block tables and industrial black bar stools. The lower bar is fronted with rough-cut timber ends, and the elegant blue-and-white pattern of the banquette fabric softens up the room’s amiable woodiness.