Think back to your favourite childhood hideaway. Now, rejoice that The Garden Strathcona is exactly that for your adult self.
The Garden Strathcona was designed by owner Anna McMillan, and her inspiration stems from her grandma’s garden, where there were a variety of calming secret spaces. Anna had spent time working at Kit and Ace and Lululemon, and meeting her mentor at Lululemon helped to shape and grow her experiences over time. Anna eventually proposed her idea to long time friends Rheanna Miller and Kirsten Kennedy, and The Garden Strathcona was born.
A brief scan of the space will tell you that Anna has considered how her guests will interact with the space. A line of bar stools lining the window makes room for those who want a quiet, inspiring space to work.
Across the way an inviting sofa beckons for friends and couples to settle in and enjoy a coffee while catching up on their lives. Tucked away behind the bar a cozy space has been tailored for intimate conversation. For those who visit but can’t quite place a finger on why they prefer to linger at The Garden Strathcona, it is because they have customized the environment for such scenarios.
(Left) Cozy space behind the bar for those looking for a bit more privacy.
(Right) natural light floods the counter space, perfect for mobile freelancers to get work done.
The cafe is also stocked with a variety of meaningful lifestyle brands and goods. The owners have dedicated an immense amount of effort to ensuring that every item that goes onto their shelves betters their customers and the world.
For example, Wise Shampoo uses reusable glass bottles to minimize their environmental footprint, and is created with all-natural, cruelty-free ingredients free of silicones and artificial fragrances. Sisters shampoo also uses ingredients safe for the body and environment, and donates 40% of its profits to women’s health causes. Nalacare was founded by a mother and daughter duo and offers a line of free-form deodorant, developed without toxic ingredients found in most other comparable products, safe for sensitive skin and will not cause negative side effects.
For their beautiful and minimal ceramics, they source from local Vancouver artists Jennifer Streckmann and Kelsey Bird.
Something else you won’t find at other cafes is a healthy yet delicious menu of warm rice bowls as tasty as they are vibrant, packed to the brim with vegetables. While we did indulge in their salted chocolate cookie and lemon and cream cheese frosting cupcake, we had to exert a high-level of self-control not to finish all the rice bowls and salad Chef Minette Lotz shared with us.
We have to say that the salted chocolate cookie is a must-try and the perfect treat for the holidays. For those with a bigger appetite or who can round up a few friends to share a dessert, the Almond Banana Toast is simply a slice of heaven. The texture of the soft bananas and crunchy almond and chocolate bits are to die for. The coffee served at The Garden Strathcona are all fair-trade and organic, with their coffee beans from local roaster Agro Coffee Roasters.
We were pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful and tasty menu offering full-sized salads and rice bowls, of a quality you would expect at a restaurant. The warm rice bowls are definitely our top picks if you were to stop by for lunch, with The Mushroom being our top choice. The Mushroom is vegetarian comfort food, and we can picture ourselves replacing our indulgent pastas with this warm rice bowl. The Cubano offers a satisfying full meal for those who are hungry.
If you are looking for an escape that celebrates your desire for privacy with fair-trade coffee, gifts and lifestyle goods with meaning and a tasty food menu, you will likely find yourself in one of the comfortable armchairs at The Garden Strathcona. We know we will find ourselves there more than a couple times on return visits!
868 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC