Habit Lounge, Vancouver

From the beginning, Vancouver’s Habit Lounge has attempted to evoke the kind of casual warmth that inspires repeat visits. Thus, it was a huge blow when a kitchen fire put the resto-lounge out of commission for nine months, leaving little recourse for the regulars they had worked so hard to generate. Management began directing visitors to Habit’s next door sister restaurant, The Cascade Room. As time marched on and Habit remained closed, there were some rumours, and maybe even a conspiracy or two (did they start the fire on purpose?) that The Cascade Room would be expanding to take over the Habit space.

As it turns out, they were just using the time to redesign, tinker with the menu, and revitalize Habit’s concept. The result is an updated take on Habit’s original fun, upbeat sensibility. The redesign was undertaken by Evoke Design (most recently of Latitude), whose partners are also involved in Habit. For inspiration, they went back to 1970’s Canada with comfy brown leather booths, hanging globular light fixtures, and shag carpeting affixed to the walls as artwork.

The menu has also been given a nostalgic makeover, opting for more updated takes on comfort food and fewer vegetarian options. Think Lamb Meatloaf, Pork Croquettes (with braised fennel and tomato chutney), Steamed Malaspina Mussels, and Sweet Carrot and Brie Perogies. Again, the menu reflects the design – unpretentious and accessible, but still carefully deliberated and tested.

But Habit’s biggest asset has always been its glorious liquor cabinet, and thankfully this focus on booze hasn’t changed, but in fact has been made sharper. In addition to the impressive wine and beer list (22 craft beers available by the bottle and four on tap), Habit has added an entire selection of Canadian Whiskeys, 22 bottles deep. Personally, I didn’t know there were 22 Canadian Whiskeys, but I’ll try anything once (or rather, 22 things at least once).

They’ve also debuted a collection of retro cocktails like the Tequila Sunrise and Manhattan, but introduced an interesting little twist. Each drink comes deconstructed and served up “bento box” style along with a shaker, glass, and recipe for you to mix it yourself. If that doesn’t bring back the regulars, I don’t know what will.

Address: 2610 Main Street, Vancouver, BC
Contact: 604-877-8582
Cuisine: Contemporary
Area: Main Street
Venue: Restaurant, Lounge
Hours: Mon. to Sat.: 5:00pm – 1:30am
Sun.: 5:00pm – 12:00am
Price Range: $$ (affordable)
Payment: Master Card, Visa, American Express

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