With well-regarded restaurants throughout town - Italian-inspired La Buca, the French Pied-A-Terre, as well as the North American Cafeteria - Stewart tells us that their customers would always ask, "What next? A spanish restaurant?".
They asked and Durbach and Stewart delivered. Timing is everything, Stewart emphasizes, "Spain has rocketed to the forefront of people's culinary consciousness in the last ten or twelve years. It's a world leader at the moment."
However, it all really fell into place after Stewart's trip to watch Manchester United play in Washington D.C. (Stewart confesses that he's quite the soccer fanatic). During his short time there, he had the pleasure of meeting Spanish chef José Andrés, the world renowned creative who is credited with bringing the entire tapas concept to North America. After dining at one of his restaurants, Stewart was entirely enchanted by the country's culinary capabilities and convinced that this calibre of restaurant was just what Vancouver needs.
Again, timing is everything. "In order to do a spanish tapas bar, you have to get yourself a small space," Stewart continues, "A lot of people go looking for something big enough. Chris and I went looking for something that was small enough." The business partners were not going to just plop their concept into any old venue. As a member of the Gastown community for over 20 years, Stewart had always kept one eye on the little space at 26 Powell, "I watched this space in a number of different incarnations. I always thought that if anyone ever had the right concept that it might do quite well."
The result is 20-seat perfection, trimmed with octagon tiling, a reclaimed mahogany bar with beautiful patina (you can still see old initials scratched into it), antique light fixtures and retro wallpaper. On the menu, traditional and authentic Spanish small plates: patatas bravadas, pata negra ham, delicious meatballs in rioja and spanish tomato sauce, as well as spicy garlic prawns. The Sardine Can is also licensed, and they made sure to export the best of the best in the realms of beer, small-acre wines, as well as top notch sherries and brandies.
"The response has been fantastic. It's so good too that the neighbourhood is up for it," says Stewarts,""Our nice, new tiles are all shiny and new right now - but we are looking forward to them getting well-used and scratched."