LunchSave on Meats


Many Vancouverites mourned the loss of Save on Meats, a Vancouver landmark that closed its doors after over half a century of service — the famous neon flying pig finally dimming its lights in 2009. Not one to miss a step (or opportunity), serial entrepreneur Mark Brand took over the space with a vision of resurrecting the butchery and giving the famed back of the room cafe a proper home.

Save on Meats is the stuff of urban legends. It’s older than dirt. The last years of its life was spent in the heart of the rapidly deteriorating downtown eastside and thus it spouted a reputation when brave souls ventured in to discover decent, large portioned, food was being served in a makeshift cafe in the back of this butchery.

(Above: Save on Meats’ famous burger, fries and topped with a pickle. It doesn’t get much more old school than this.)

The new space is beautifully understated. An open hall with a long bar running along one side while no more than a dozen booths line an exposed brick wall on the other. Nice modern touches are welcomed (i.e. credit card machine, clean washrooms), but Brand was smart to not over-hipsterize (is that even a word?) the decor.

(Above: Save on Meats and its customers are in it for the long hall.)

After a brief wait, Case and I found a seat at the bar among other eager diners. The menu reads like the gospel of greasy spoon: roast chicken sandwiches, tuna melts and meat loafs. Bangers and mash and fried chicken is about as exotic as it gets.

Case and I were content to order The Burger: a homemade patty slathered in sauce, topped with bacon and cheese between two uniquely sweet buns. It didn’t disappoint. It’s no gourmet burger by any stretch, but classic greasy spoon at its finest. The buns are dense enough to hold the sauce without crumbling, but had the texture and taste of a rugged Chinese baked bun. The accompanying fries were crispy and well seasoned, and we enjoyed dunking them in the added side of gravy.

(Above: Made from scratch black forest cake. This one founds its way home with us.)

We didn’t have room for dessert, and so took a slice of black forest cake for the road. It was equally enjoyable: old school recipe, beautiful spongey layers of chocolate, cream and hidden cherries. Our meal including taxes and tips came to just under $25, a friendly price indeed. It’s still too early to see if this incarnation of Save on Meats will last another half century, but judging by its early performance, the resurrected Save on Meats is certainly starting off on  the right foot.

Perfect for: reliving a new nostalgia. Oh, and a really good, cheap burger.

The Details:

43 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

Save on Meats Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

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