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A View from The Roof – Vancouver’s Largest Rooftop Dining Experience

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The Roof at Black+Blue
3rd Floor, 1032 Alberni  Street
Open seven days a week: 11:30 am to 10:00 pm
Serving brunch Saturday and Sunday: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm

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Knock on wood, patio season here! If you’re like me and enjoy drinks and appies in the sun, you’ve probably heard of the newest, hippest rooftop in town, The Roof at Black+Blue. Black+Blue and eight other restaurants in Vancouver are owned by the Glowbal Group. Perhaps you’ve come along our Gourmet Street Eats Tour and heard the inspirational story of Emad Yacoub and his journey in establishing this restaurant empire. The Roof brands itself as: “Vancouver’s largest rooftop dining destination, offering platinum seating to the city’s patio scene.” So, with my best friend’s birthday and spot prawn season falling in the same week, the stars (or prawns?) had aligned to put on the patio dress and try it out!

From the moment the elevator doors open onto The Roof, the patio delivers on visual appeal. Modern, West-Coast inspired design featuring dark woods and leathers pair with fire elements, steel tables, and clean shapes, while zebra-print pillows and freshly-manicured flowers bring summer vibe to the atmosphere. The layout is strategically done, never giving more room to tables than necessary to accommodate their maximum capacity of 150. The Roof doesn’t have the same leisurely, “secret garden” feel that Reflections at the Hotel Georgia captures. The Roof is clearly known as the coolest place to be, and all the businessmen and trendsetters show up to bask in the hip patio scene.

Though The Roof offers a full dinner menu, it’s really the kind of place where you share some casual drinks and appetizers. My girl friend and I started with Caesars, the Forno Mussels and Crispy Calamari. The mussels were good—nothing spectacular—but when you douse anything in garlic/lemon butter, it’s bound to be decent.  The calamari was also neither here nor there on the tastebuds or visual appeal: the pieces were stubby and somewhat chewy and the tartar sauce simply helped it along by masking its shortcomings.

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The item that really drew me to The Roof was the Spot Prawn Flatbread. New to spot prawns and eager to partake in the three-week season, the flatbread was our main event. However, despite the appealing looks of it, I would not recommend it—not to you or even that guy in the office who jams up the printer. They use a tomato spread that makes it soggy, soggy, soggy, and it has a really strange mix of flavours. What looks like a caramelized onion in the photos is actually guanciale, unsmoked Italian bacon cut from pig cheeks. Yes, it sounds good, especially to bacon-lovers like myself, but it is a far-cry from the beloved breakfast staple. Squishy and chewy, it was like chunks of solid fat were sprinkled on top of the flatbread. Moreover, the prawns were scarce and soggy and it was hard to taste them mushed into the bread. Pair that with salty mini-zucchinis and the bitterness of arugula and we had a combination that left us sorely disappointed.

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The staff took good care of us and really appeared to care about customers’ experiences.  However, the thing about places in this middle price range ($13-$29) is that they really need something unique to fight for your dollar in Vancouver’s highly-competitive culinary landscape. There are so many places, especially downtown, that serve these very same items for the same price, that I need a reason—a signature taste, texture or presentation—unique enough to bring me back. The Roof certainly has the atmosphere down in the form of a premium rooftop seating experience, but the food just does not seem to fit the bill. Go to enjoy the sunshine and drinks, but look to another roof for a top-notch dining experience.

Have you found your patio paradise? Let us know in the comments below!

Joyce Chua

About Joyce Chua

I’m fascinated by food and its impact on culture, especially in an increasingly globalized world. I love how Vancouver’s multicultural food scene opens doors to history, culture, and understanding. Here’s to a life of eating and learning!

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