Interesting new experience in eating establishments last week.
While over in Vancouver interviewing witnesses for my next foray at (well can't tell you that now can I?) I went out with two friends to an interesting little dining establishment on the edge of Gastown called Salt.
Salt is not going to make its business on walk-by traffic -- it is situated down a small sidestreet called Blood Alley which will not be drawing the tourist hordes any time soon -- nor on the big appetite crowd. It has no kitchen and essentially specializes in what my friend Mary kindly refers to as 'picnics' (although most armies of ants would be sorely disappointed with the quanitities).
The idea is simple -- there is a board which lists a column of cheeses, a column of cured meats and a column of interesting condiments, you choose three out of the first two columns and three condiments and you are away to the races. The tastes are good, the quantities are small (which is good for me as I have been neglecting the gym of late) and it is important to supplement all of the above with wine.
While it may be tempting to dismiss the experience out of hand as something that could be replicated at any deli, in fact it is worth the visit. The decor is minimalist and stylish and the environment encourages experimentation in a way that the deli counter just does not. This is particularly so in respect of use of the condiments as one is unlikely to be tempted to buy a bottle of balsamic reduction at the local deli to try dipping some new meat into. Also, the space is oriented towards sitting down and enjoying the company with whom you have arrived -- something that also is not generally encouraged in most delis.
Not cheap -- but interesting.