When I lived in Kitsilano, I had a few favourite haunts: Videomatica, Zulu Records, Arbutus Coffee, Tealeaves‘ tea room. I also spent time exploring the many shopping streets in the neighbourhood – West 4th, Arbutus, and South Granville among them.
South Granville’s main attraction for me was Meinhardt Fine Foods, which could keep me occupied for hours. Their groceries ranged from affordable to luxury, but they were all a cut above what you could find at a supermarket. There were also gourmet ingredients you couldn’t find elsewhere. It was a great way to supplement the food education I’d been receiving from the cookbooks I borrowed from the library. And it was a great place to treat myself, whether it was an ingredient I was coveting, good quality chocolate, or a meal from their deli and pastry counters.
Eventually, I moved back to Grandview-Woodland, the neighbourhood I’ve always felt was home. My visits to Kitsilano are infrequent and I rarely make it as far as Meinhardt. Food culture has also changed, so that gourmet ingredients are more widely available across the city. But still, I’d like to visit Meinhardt more often.
Now, I can. Recently, I was invited to the opening celebration for Meinhardt’s new downtown location at the corner of Granville and Dunsmuir, in Pacific Centre.
They’re not following the same blueprint for their new store, though. Recognizing that they’re opening in the heart of the business district, the store will focus on “grab and go” fare for those who work in the downtown core, those who live there, and Eastsiders (like me) who don’t want to travel across town for Meinhardt’s gourmet goods.
Their hot bar, soup, and salad bar offerings are all developed by Executive Chef Elke Brandstatter. If the bahn mi sandwiches I sampled at the party are any indication, running to the store for lunch will be a pleasure.
There is also an impressive pastry case assortment, including sophisticated French sweets like macarons and fresh takes on North American favourites like cheesecake, too.
What most impressed me, though, were two things:
First, their commitment to high-quality local suppliers, like Mellifera Bees and Chef Enrick. From the dairy case to the bread rack, there are British Columbia businesses represented, supplemented by national and international gourmet goods.
And second, I was pleased with the quality and variety of their M-private label Collection – from olive oil good enough for a bread and balsamic pairing to truffles that wouldn’t be out of place at a dinner party.
General Manager Michael Meinhardt was kind enough to talk to me about their M-Collection goods. He told me they were aiming for quality and affordability. It’s something that’s been missing from the Canadian market, at least in BC, where most private label lines are comprised of budget treats or exclusive luxuries. These snack foods and staples are going to become ubiquitous in pantries across the city.
I was a guest at Meinhardt Pacific Centre’s opening celebration and received a box of truffles to take home. No other consideration was received and all opinions, as always, are my own.