If I were to hand out a prize for having the most unusual name for a cafe, Nelson the Seagull would be a clear winner. If I were to hand out another prize for being situated in the most unlikely spot, Nelson the Seagull would be taking another award. Located at 315 Carrall St (almost at the border of the drug and prostitution area near east hastings), is tucked away this hidden gem. Although its name may be interesting but what's even more interesting is the history behind the name and the cafes beginnings.
Nelson the Seagull was started by two siblings from South Africa. They wanted to create a cafe that paid hommage to Mandela without cashing in on his name. During the era of apartheid any song about Mandela was banned while he was in prison. However there was one song that secretly was an ode to Mandela but wasn't banned because it never referred to him. The name of the song was called "The Seagulls name was Nelson" The south african siblings used this as inspiration for the name of their cafe.
Behind the counter is a pic of Nelson Mandela boxing. And there are various subtle hints of homage being paid to this great man. Like the wifi password containing the word MANDIBA. This hippie/hipster joint is very clever indeed. After one bite and one sip I'm utterly convinced that the avocado on toast and house made almond milk latte should go at the top of every persons bucket list.
As delicious as those were, there is only one more thing in that cafe that rivals the deliciousness of avocado on toast and an almond milk latte.....suspended coffee. Suspended coffee? Never heard of it you say? Suspended coffee is the most delicious of all because it contains the taste of kindness. It is a system the cafe has that you can pay in advance for a free cup of coffee for a homeless people downtown. So they can stumble into the cafe, ask for a suspended coffee and get just a little taste of respite from this painful cruel world.
On my visit there, I added a suspended coffee to my bill for $2.60. The girl looked at me with utter gratitude and said that they had only one suspended coffee left for one more person so when I paid for another it was a huge help because alot of people come into the cafe at the end of the day for a coffee.
But my visit to the cafe gets even better than that and I got to witness firsthand how their suspended coffee system truly makes a difference. I was digging into my heavenly avocado and toast and savoring my latte when a homeless person stumbled in and asked for a suspended coffee. Within a few minutes they cafe set them up with a coffee in a to-go cup and they went merrily on their way.
And I realized that if I hadn't given anything, that person would be the last person they would have been able to help. But because of the $2.60 I added to my bill they'll be able to help out at least one more person. I don't know why but there was something about witnessing that whole scene that suddenly made my avocado on toast taste more rich and delicious and my almond milk latte all the more sweeter....
Tucked away on an inconspicious location on a sidewalk full of pretentious restaurants in Kitsilano is one of Vancouver's best hidden gems....Deafined. Deafined is dining experience for those who dare to be different and open their hearts to the world of the hearing impaired. The restaurant is set up to make communication as smooth as possible between customers and staff. The menus have the item, price, and symbol you'll need to sign with your hand to indicate what you want to order.
In addition to that there are placards giving you basic lessons in sign language on how to say "please" "thank you" "eat" "drink" or ask for your bill. At each table there is a pen and paper in case the customers need to communicate and write down special dietary requests to the waiter. And the waiters themselves are trained to communicate with the customers. Our waitress was actually able to communicate with her hands to us asking us if we wanted seperate bills or put on one bill just like any other staff at a regular restaurant. Impressive....
There were also some elements of the restaurant that were touching. In the main foyer there is a huge vase with a pen and paper so that happy customers can write kudos, thanks, and encouragment to the staff. At Deafined being hearing impaired certainly doesn't stop love and positivity from spreading.
As for the food, I took one bite and spent all nite debating which was more beautiful....the food or the spirit of the people that made the food and are serving it? The debate still rages on inside of me and I don't think I'll ever really be able to decide. All I know is that every time I look back on this experience, gratitude wells up within my soul and I find the tips of my fingers touching my lips as my hand moves away from my mouth.....sign language for THANK YOU.