The restaurant at 1789 Comox St in Vancouver’s West End was a Vancouver institution for 25 years. If you wanted a martini, Delilah’s was, quite simply, the place to go. It was the closest you could get to Las Vegas without leaving the GVRD. From the frescoed ceiling to the red crushed velvet banquettes, it was all shaken, never stirred, baby.
Five months ago, Paul Puratich and Chef Daryle Nagata opened the doors of Seventeen89. The partners had been looking for a space to open a restaurant together, and after a deal feel through in White Rock, they learned that 1789 Comox was available. “It hadn’t received any love in a very long time,” said Puratich, who is a third-generation commercial fisherman. In the four years since Delilah’s had shut down, the space had gone through several incarnations, including, briefly, a Tandoori restaurant.
The Chef and the Captain
“We recognized that this place was utterly unique. No other space in the city had what this had to offer: history and an atmosphere of decadence. We wanted to restore the space to its former campy glory.”
And so they did. They kept the original ceilings, frescoed by Wade King in 1995 with cherubs, but everything else was repainted, refurbished and reupholstered. The banquettes were reupholstered in the original red mohair, except for “The Captain’s Table” in the corner (where you expect to see Frank Sinatra holding court with a bevy of beauties), which is done in black leather.
They added an oyster bar, but tried to keep, as much as possible, the original air of dark wood, red velvet, and old Hollywood glamour.
Nagata, who has helmed giant hotel kitchens like the Pan Pacific, wanted to create a menu that would be approachable, and took advantage of the best, freshest ingredients he could source, prepared with a great deal of respect. Not surprisingly, it features quite a bit of seafood, from smaller tapas dishes to old school surf-and-turf. A place like this needs to feature a good steak, and Nagata sources 40-day-aged Spring Creek beef from Alberta. The ribeye is most popular, but they’re also known for their fish and chips, the sablefish, and the halibut baked in filo pastry. The menu also features vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Surf ‘n’ Turf
Frank Sinatra once famously said he could only ask for two things in life: good friends, and fine family. But I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have turned down a steak and a dry Manhattan at Seventeen89.
Seventeen89 Restaurant and Lounge
Address: 1789 Comox Street, Vancouver
Tuesday-Thursday: 4 to 10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 4 to 11 p.m.
Sunday: 4 to 10 p.m.