L'Abattoir
By Nancy Baye

Brunch in Blood Alley

A storied neighbourhood with a gritty past is perhaps an unlikely spot to find one of Vancouver's most celebrated dining rooms, but L’Abattoir Co-owners Paul Grunberg and Executive Chef Lee Cooper have happily flaunted the area’s colourful history ever since they opened their elegant Gastown dining room in July 2010.

Located in the city's former meatpacking district, the restaurant's slaughterhouse-inspired name seems fitting. “We liked the mysticism of the name, and the fact that it’s an oxymoron since our food isn’t rough, it’s technically refined,” Paul notes. The fact that both Paul and Lee’s grandfathers were butchers adds another level of irony to the restaurant's name.

Known for its outstanding French-inspired Pacific Northwest fare, L’Abattoir offers an award-winning dinner menu as well as a fresh spin on weekend brunch. Crepes stuffed with ricotta and lemon zest soar to new heights, while baskets of fresh-baked pastries are curated for each table. Round the meal out with a pressed juice or an I Will Survive cocktail (a spin on the Bloody Mary made with Chartreuse), and your weekend is complete.

It’s all about character and personality, then letting the food and service shine through. - Paul Grunberg, co-owner of L'Abattoir
Steelhead Trout with Crunchy Potato Salad is among the many exquisite, yet casual, plates by chef Lee Cooper.
Steelhead trout with crunchy potato salad is among the many exquisite, yet casual, plates by Chef Lee Cooper. Photo courtesy of L'Abattoir
Indulge in a classic Negroni at the bar of L'Abattoir.
Indulge in a classic Negroni at the bar of L'Abattoir. Photo courtesy of L'Abattoir

Character, Personality and A Room of One’s Own

Prior to launching his own restaurant, Paul served as the general manager at Market by Jean-Georges and Chambar, and also did stints at Lumiere, Feenie’s and Bao Bei. Meanwhile, Chef Lee helmed the kitchens of Michelin-starred dining rooms in the U.S. and U.K, opened Vancouver’s Shangri-La Hotel, and has been feted for his culinary talents by Western Living Magazine and The Vancouver Sun.

L’Abattoir is a culmination of Paul’s ideas for front-of-house and Lee’s visionary menu; both wanted guests to have all the frills of fine dining, but without the pretension. The casual-yet-sophisticated restaurant occupies a stunning 19th-century building, its exposed brick adding warmth to modern glass and steel details. Aesthetically beautiful but not overly stuffy, the relaxed environment provides the ideal backdrop for an intimate dinner date. “It’s all about character and personality, then letting the food and service shine through," Paul explains.

The guest experience expands beyond the main dining room to the restaurant's adjacent private dining area at 1 Gaoler’s Mews, a building that once housed Vancouver's first jail. The historic venue offers two small rooms that fit 25 guests each, or one large room to host larger parties of 50 to 70 guests. The private room blends unique 19th-century architecture with modern details for an intimate vibe. Functions range from social parties to corporate dinners to weddings. The exclusive private kitchen allows guests to design seasonal menus highlighting fresh ingredients, with the option to select pre-set menus or tailor dishes to suit a specific theme.

L'Abattoir's private dining rooms blend unique 19th century architecture with modern details for an intimate vibe.
L'Abattoir's private dining rooms blend unique 19th century architecture with modern details for an intimate vibe. Photo courtesy of L'Abattoir
BBQ octopus served with fried jalapeno, smoked pepper sauce, and bread crumbs toasted in pork fat.
BBQ octopus served with fried jalapeno, smoked pepper sauce, and bread crumbs toasted in pork fat. Photo courtesy of L'Abattoir

Classic Cocktails and Refined Cuisine

Classic and original cocktails crafted by Head Bartender Katie Ingram are always a draw, especially during Happy Hour at L’Abattoir. Meanwhile, Wine Director and Assistant General Manager Lisa Haley has curated a wine list with finds like Le Vieux Pin '14 Viognier+ 'Ava' from the Okanagan Valley, and a velvety Nebbiolo Barolo by Rinaldi & Figli.

The elegant dinner menu begins with selections like smoked sturgeon and crunchy potato, or roasted artichoke and mushroom cannelloni. Main courses dazzle: baked halibut with Meyer lemon marmalade and nettle farfalle, or peppery Steak Diane with cheese puffs. Desserts like dark chocolate crémeux with mango curd offer a decadent finish.

And don’t let the name fool you; L’Abattoir remains vegetarian-friendly and chefs are happy to provide vegan fare for those who request. “If vegans give us a day or two notice, we can bring in something," says Paul. "We want to make everyone’s experience special.”

From meat-eaters to vegans, historians to ultra hip, private parties to first dates, everyone is made to feel welcome at L'Abattoir.

L'Abattoir is located on Carrall Street in Vancouver's trendy Gastown neighbourhood.
L'Abattoir is located on Carrall Street in Vancouver's trendy Gastown neighbourhood. Photo courtesy of L'Abattoir
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