When word got out that the new Parq Vancouver hotel and casino development would feature eight food and drink concepts, the news certainly made waves. But the team tied to the massive endeavour is no stranger to large-scale projects–they hail from Las Vegas, after all.
This isn’t Vegas, though. Heck, it isn’t even America. The same rules don’t always apply. We like a little opulence, but don’t appreciate the old all flash and no substance vibe. Oh, and it needs to be pretty (for Instagram) and showcase local, sustainable ingredients.
Up to the task are Blau + Associates, who have deftly masterminded the array of food and drink options at Parq Vancouver with their Vegas-meets-Vancouver sensibility. While there is a high-end Chinese concept, a Canadian-themed sports bar, an Shanghai night market-inspired casual spot, and more at Parq, so far Honey Salt–based on the Vegas prototype of the same name, is emerging as the locals’ favourite.
The upmarket Shabby Chic space has just the right amount of exposed brick, adorable glassware, and hand-lettered chalk board signs to appeal to the Instagramming aesthetes, and the dishes follow suit.
Honey Salt reflects restaurateur Elizabeth Blau and her husband Chef Kim Canteenwalla’s shared culinary loves and their wish to essentially invite you to the table and hear their stories–through food and a feel that’s as homey as a hotel restaurant in a massive casino-based venue can get. (Side note: Of all the Parq restaurants, Honey Salt is the only one that allows minors, as the others all require crossing the casino floor, a big no-no in B.C.)
They brought on Vancouverite Jason Labahn as Executive Chef, who has experience in both Vegas and Vegas-in-Vancouver (Glowbal’s Black & Blue) restaurants, and have created a farm-to-table style eatery that is at once posh and chill.
There are, of course, showstoppers, like the Honey Salt Market, a sort of mini-wooden stool festooned with fresh seasonal veggies in a rainbow of hues with a jar piled sky-high with taro chips and a space for dipping sauces and salt beneath. It seems at once ridiculous and necessary, if a veggie platter could be that; there is no nicer way to get your daily veg than with showy appetizer.
Dishes like the Biloxi Buttermilk Fried Chicken sandwich and the turkey meatballs have a story; Blau and Canteenwalla met in Biloxi, and the meatballs are a childhood favourite of Blau’s. They are also soulful and satisfying eats, and exactly what you’d expect from this kind of spot–a little cozy and trendy with mass appeal.
The masses have gone ga-ga over the restaurant’s Society cake, which is a jaw-droppingly giant slab of banana and chocolate layer cake so big it challenges the confines of the Instagram square. It’s also fabulously moist and not too painfully sweet (and holds up as a wicked with-coffee leftover the following morning).
The menu is packed with comfort eats and infused with local flavours. Plump Salt Spring mussels gather cozily in a broth of cider, chorizo, saffron, and tomato; the tourtiere is “Quebecois”; the veg in the “Market” come from Klippers organics; and there’s a Tofino Fry appetizer.
Honey Salt serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (hey, it’s a hotel), and it’s a beautiful venue with approachable, lovely food that visitors and locals alike can easily enjoy.
Address: Parq Vancouver – 39 Smithe Street