For nearly 50 years, Vancouverites have been able to settle into a stool at the diner at East Broadway and Main, on the ground floor of Mount Pleasant’s historic Lee Building. Meshing the food and philosophy of Kitsilano’s Fable with the diner concept, Chef Trevor Bird and partners have just opened Fable Diner in this storied spot.
Fable Diner’s all-day menu melds breakfast staples, signature diner eats, and modern casual, made of fresh, local ingredients and often with a creative twist.
“We’re really trying to [create] the new school diner, or bring the diner concept into the 2000s,” explains Bird, after settling into a cozy teal-coloured banquette seat inside the fully remodeled space. “48 years of diner history–why would you take that and make that something that it’s not?” he adds.
“Everybody associates the diner with a ‘greasy spoon’ and I think there’s definitely a place for that,” Bird elaborates. “But I think the way people eat these days is kind of moving away from the ‘greasy spoon,’ so a diner to me is casual, familiar, fun food–and for Fable’s twist on it is we put our own creative kind of swing on things.”
Beyond the name, the reach of Fable is unmistakable to those familiar with the restaurant’s emphasis on seasonal ingredients, and inviting environs. Many of Fable’s staff have come to the Diner to ease with the transition, as well as versions of well-loved Fable menu items, like the Chickpea Fritters–which for the Diner are made smaller and served fewer per order, to keep prices down for patrons.
Fable Diner is also using the same purveyors as its sibling eatery, and they are committed to making everything they can themselves on sit. “It’s the same philosophy of Fable, just a different style of food,” elaborates Bird.
While you can order up a simple breakfast combo of bacon and eggs, you can also let your palate take a little trip abroad within comfy confines, through dishes like the Roast Duck Pancake. Its fluffy pancake base gets a major pow of flavour with the addition of shredded roast duck, kewpie mayo, housemade kimchi, scallions, and cilantro. Sure, you know pancakes, but this one happens to take a well-executed left into new territory.
“I really like just having fun with food, and this is a perfect environment to do it in,” attests Bird.
Their kitchen is turning out juicy double-stacked FD Burgers on house-made buns (Bird estimates they are making about 150 buns daily), paired with french fries that took them five cases of potatoes and couple extra pounds of body weight to taste test until they nailed the process and flavour they wanted to achieve, and be able to reproduce at high volume. The result is a perfectly crisp exterior, fluffy interior, and a satisfying slight vinegar tang: A damn fine fry.
In the era of everyone Instagramming their meals, Fable Diner’s milkshakes not only hit the mark on being very photogenic, but also happen to be tasty. The Diner gets fresh ice creams daily from Birchwood Dairy, and turn them into creamy tall shakes topped with flavoured whipped cream and their cranked-up cornflake topping for that little extra crunch.
If you aren’t keen on spending calories on shakes and burgers, Fable Diner does have healthier options, such as salads, on the menu. “It is Vancouver,” points out Bird, who adds that he, too, prefers to follow a healthier diet. This modern diner has the classics, but it further steps into a new era with its selection of cocktails, craft brews, and wines, too, for customers looking to imbibe.
As Fable Diner slowly and softly made the switch recently from evening-only service to opening at 11 am, the plan is to start opening earlier, as well as adding weekend brunch service, as soon as they can. And, of course, since Fable Diner is in its infancy–even in a longstanding diner space–much will grow and change in the coming months.
“What I’m really excited for about this place is the evolution. Where we’re going to be in a year,” remarks Bird.
Still, it always comes down to the food, served up at Fable Diner affordably and approachably.
“This place for me is creating the best diner food we possibly can,” says Bird.
Address: 151 East Broadway, Vancouver