Coco et Olive – Vancouver, BC
Coco et Olive Fine Foods & Café
3476 West Broadway
(604) 736 7080
As I heard from my Alberta-based friends over the weekend complaining about the snow on the ground and the ongoing colder weather, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them as I strolled outside in nice sunny weather this past week along West Broadway in over 10 degrees Celsius weather. With a clam breeze in the air, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to stop into a little café and grab something warm to drink as well as a bite to eat.
Coco et Olive is probably best known among those who live in this end of Vancouver. And by end, I truly mean that. It really is far from the hustle and bustle of the more central and thus busier sections of this strip. In the daytime on weekends, and lunch hours during the week, its filled with people from the neighborhood who clearly have more than their share of free time.
My assumption of this is based on the fact that a) there’s a lot of older folks who probably don’t have to work for a living anymore due to age, and b) younger uppity people who look like they are well off and don’t need to work. Ah, I wish I could be one of the latter… minus the attitude of course!
With an eclectic arrangement of furniture as seating, and an airy bistro feel, its really easy to feel at home and want to lounge about alone with a cup of coffee (they serve Intelligentsia) or with friends sharing any number of sweets and sandwiches on the menu. But with a full house and nary a seat to take, I chose an order to go. [The associated pictures you see here are just simple plated shots once I was back in my kitchen]
The ordering process is straight forward, as the cashier will jot down your order on a notepad and go through the motions of pulling it from the case and if the line is busy, another staffer will handle the grilling. As simple as that is, I sensed a lack of flow among the staff. Some confusion among orders despite the written list, an absence of speed as there clearly is not enough space under the griller when more than a few sandwiches are on deck, were just some of the amateurish things I picked up on the service front.
On this day, there were about twelve different sandwiches on board, though some had nothing next to the name plates in the refrigerated case next to the ordering counter. I did notice as time passed that re-fills from the back kitchen soon made their way into the display area. The casual feel must pervade from the back, as people would walk in and out from the hidden room to the entrance door. They seemed like staff, or perhaps friends of the owners (heard a lot of French flying back and forth), but they all seemed to be treating the place as if it were someone’s home, and not really concerned they were cutting in front of paying customers who were scanning the sandwich offerings.
Making your mind from the tantalizing choices is an exercise in both judgment and restraint. After pacing in front of the case, I ended up picking the Lemon and Herb Chicken ($6.99), as well as a White Tuna Panini. One of which was chosen as a sandwich & soup combo – an added $3 to the price – and the selection was a Moroccan Lentils soup.
Being handmade, you could immediately see the hodgepodge of sizes for the same kind of sandwich. Overall, the paninis, of which I preferred the softer texture of the tuna spread as well as the flavor combination, were fairly good, though I wouldn’t go as far as to say they were outstanding or the best paninis I’ve ever tasted.
As a sweet dessert to round out the pair of meals that I was taking back home, I asked for two of the Almond Croissants. They just seemed to beckon me, sitting on top of the sandwich display case, as I waited for my paninis to be grilled in the press. I must say, they were absolutely fantastic. A perfectly light flaky and crispy crust, and an oozy centre of almond cream, with an ample spread of sliced almonds on top. I will definitely be back for these, and to try out some of the other cookies, scones, cakes, tarts, and brownies that are made in-house…