Photographed by Luis Valdizon
Written by Sarah Valdizon
Tucked just off busy South Granville, in an unassuming building is Farmer’s Apprentice. It is a quiet little street, which now seems to have turned into its own mini-neighborhood within a neighborhood. A place where it’s not uncommon to see guests trailing in straight from yoga class just steps away to meet friends, or local families that just came from the park, sitting on the covered deck, little ones on laps. It’s surprisingly a place so comforting on a rainy, typical Vancouver Autumn day, and refreshing and cheerful on a perfectly sunny summer day alike. This is all thanks to David Gunaway, owner and chef.
Before opening his locations, David worked in fine kitchens in Europe as well as the U.S.A, lending to his skillful touch, but also to perhaps his irrevocable stand on local, sustainably sourced, straight from the farm cuisine. In fact, it is said that his culinary approach is dictated by the fresh produce that arrives at his door from local farmers each day. This starting point seems to trail into decisions for the ever-changing menu. In fact, each time that we have visited, there have rarely been repeated dishes, lending to a unique experience each and every time.
The exterior meets guests with friendly signage, plants surrounding and casual outdoor seating, set with cozy, folded blankets. Inside, wandering and iconic Bocci lights above create a friendly, poetic look and feel for the space. At eye level, the space is not large, but well considered, with friendly seating arrangements, surrounded by eclectic touches—most noticeable are rustic window panes, books, art, stacks of preserves, and floral arrangements.
What might not be seen at first are some of the more set back details such as a hidden coat rack, turntable music (and record collection), and a slightly ajar back door, creating freshness. An open kitchen invites a glance to see what is being created next, and also, a more free form, shapeless space, activating the relaxed mood of the entire 40-seat restaurant…
The restaurant opened in 2013, and immediately received attention for its provenance rooted in the uncomplicated, (unwavering) local, fresh produce and the ability to create comfort foods that are certainly skillfully and thoughtfully made. Not an easy feat, but a remarkable one, and one that has lead to a rather full restaurant, a sister restaurant (Grapes & Soda), additional projects, events, and exceedingly kind recommendations.
Lovely napkins, thoughtfully chosen, alongside tactile ceramics and elegant glassware present the food and beverages in a most special way. And whether you are joining them for brunch (it is one of our favorites in the city), sharing a range of Brussels sprouts and bread, waffles and salmon, or for lunch, for fresh, tasty salads and white wine, or dinner for mackerel, ancient grains and oyster mushrooms, each is truly such a delight.