On September 6th, Eating in Vancouver & the World was invited to attend the grand opening of The Baker & The Chef, a brand new sandwich cafe right off of West Hastings and Cambie Street. Offering a myriad of delicious treats from daily fresh bread and sandwiches to delicious cakes and dessert, this new cafe has everything you could want for a quick, hearty lunch.
First impressions of the interior? I loved the brick walls, faux chalk menus and fresh bread display that dominates the front of house display behind the cashier. Although the space is not very large, the eating area is laid out very efficiently making for a compact but cosy dining environment. With a menu comprised of sandwiches, cups of soup etc. you can either get your meal to go or grab a seat at one of the long bench tables.
As part of the media invite-only opening, we got a chance to try a few menu items including several popular sandwiches, two different soups and a couple cakes. First off, the sandwiches were really quite good. They were simple but invested strongly in the freshness of the bread and other majority ingredients. For the roast beef sandwich and chicken bacon lettuce combination, I liked that these traditional staples were kept simple and consistent. One thing I definitely noticed was how fragrant and fresh the bread was from the slightly coarse whole grain to the crisp, buttery panini bread. Regardless of where your sandwich loyalties lie, I am sure sandwich aficionados will find one or two options they will like.
After trying a few sandwiches, I happily dug into the fresh scones, mini cinnamon rolls and two different types of cake. Just like the sandwiches, the scones were oven fresh and delicious. They literally crumbled in my mouth and were not overly sweet which I appreciated. From the scones and rolls I tried slices of the chocolate cake and the carrot cake. Although both were great, I definitely thought the carrot cake was the better. Very light and fresh with that noticeable carrot flavor and a generous spread of cream cheese icing. Although I am normally not a huge sweets person, I really enjoyed all the dessert elements I sampled. I can definitely see how a slice of carrot cake would be appreciated after a hearty sandwich and soup combo.
Towards the end of the event, the staff brought out a savoury sausage roll and a sweet peanut butter bar. The peanut butter bar was ok but not really my thing. I felt it either needed to be sweeter or more wholesome, closer to a granola bar. What really appealed to me was the sausage roll. The sausage meat was very tender and flavourful and went perfectly with the super flaky, fresh pastry shell. If I was not feeling in the mood for a sandwich, I would be perfectly content chowing down on this smartly appointed baked good.
A few final thoughts: downtown Vancouver is the most high density commercial district in all of the GVRD. That said, I have seen many cafes and restaurants come and go over the years purely due to the overabundance of choice from block to block. At the end of the day, it is all about quality and price point and I think the Baker & The Chef has both. Personally, I can see myself returning soon for a cup of hearty clam chowder or a nice roast beef press. Give this place a try if you are the area and leave a comment letting us know what you think!