Borrowing a page from the more European-style book of offering light bites and both café and bar beverages, Vancouver Island export Bows & Arrows has recently opened up its first mainland brick-and-mortar on the blossoming Fraser Street corridor.
With a bright minimalist decor and a full side wall of windows, Bows & Arrows’ Vancouver café-restaurant is a welcoming neighbourhood spot with food and drink options to suit customers’ tastes at all hours of the day.
From their own kitchen comes a bevy of pastries and breads, available in the morning and while they last through the day, and of course a thoughtful coffee program showcasing their own beans (which are also available for purchase by the bag).
With a beautiful and expansive communal table the focal point of the dining room, the café is a beacon for laptop luggers in search of space in which to work. However, once midday lunch service kicks in, Bows & Arrows turns off their WiFi to allow diners to focus on enjoying their meal and let the restaurant component of the cafe take centre stage.
Offering counter service by day, and more extended table service into the evening, the menus at Bows and Arrows draw in spirit from the Italian “aperitivo” style of eating out, as in they offer a range of dishes that work well as post-work or pre-dinner snacks, or, with more on the table, work well as meal of their own.
At the core of the food service are two key tenets: Their baking and their preserving. A beautiful plate of bread and butter merits its own entry on the brief menu, and many of their small plates include a bread component, like their rich, silky, earthy chicken liver mousse topped with apricot preserves and served with a pile of their seeded toast.
“The menu itself is almost built around bread,” elaborates co-owner Drew Johnson, over an afternoon cup of tea at the cafe.
Customers will see some of the products the Bows and Arrows kitchen is “putting up” from the summer and fall harvests in the form of big jars of pickles, peppers, and jams set on a shelf in the dining area. The pickles are already being dished out for plates of tender, salty ham terrine with a mellow apple mustard, perfect for spreading on their toasty white bread.
While you won’t go wrong relying on their coffee service, Bows and Arrows does have a full bar, and has wine list showcasing regional favourites, and taps for BC beers. Their cocktails are riffs on classic drinks, incorporating seasonal ingredients, housemade syrups and mists, and other playful flavour components, and were designed by Johnson and bar manager Jon Ledwidge (formerly of Pourhouse).
“We’re not trying to be the coffee shop that just added a beer tap, or came up with a wine list,” adds Johnson, emphasizing their very deliberate choices for which wines and beers to bring on board, as well as their cocktail program. “What we want people to know is that they can have a really excellent drink here.”
Bows & Arrows aims to function as a neighbourhood spot in the sense that it can meet the needs of locals at any point during their day, or, ideally, at multiple points in their day, from their coffee and pastry kickstart in the morning to an after work light bite and glass of wine, to even a reason to get a sitter and head out in the ‘hood for dinner–or stop here for a cocktail before or after a dinner elsewhere. On the weekends, Bows & Arrows also has brunch service.
Bows & Arrows is open Monday and Tuesday 7:30 am to 6 pm, Wednesday and Thursday 7:30 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 7:30 am to 11 pm, and Sunday 7:30 am to 9 pm.