Strolling up Fraser Street one Sunday afternoon, I stumbled upon The Outpost Cafe at 24th Avenue. Though they’ve been open about a year, I hadn’t tried this cafe yet. Peeking in the door, I could see highchairs at the back of the place and lots of room for strollers. There are a handful of paintings on the wall, but the place is airy and bright with its simple white walls, stained wood wainscoting, comfortable padded bench seating along one wall and a packed bookshelf at the back. Every other person who came in seemed to be a local, recognized and greeted warmly by the staff. The music was loud enough to nearly drown out other people’s conversations, but not so much that you couldn’t talk with someone at your table.
Despite being prime cafe time on a weekend, it wasn’t too busy. I decided on a small soup and a salad, which cost about $7.50. When my soup arrived, I was impressed: the small was a decent sized bowl of nice chunks of fresh veggies and black beans in a flavourful broth. My salad didn’t disappoint either: crisp mesclun greens with chunks of creamy goat’s cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and mung sprouts, as well as a generous handful of very red grape tomatoes. Fresh is evidently the word of the day here. Having a sweet tooth, I couldn’t resist ordering one of the ginger snaps at the counter too. Without exaggerating, I think this was the best ginger snap I’ve had at a cafe: big and chewy but not gooey in the middle, sprinkled with coarse sugar and made with little chunks of candied ginger and a nice balance of spice. My toddler enjoyed his ham and cheese croissant with a hard-boiled free-range egg.
After our lunch, we discovered a small room behind the kitchen designated for staff, set up as a living room with a lovely vintage sofa and midcentury table and shelving, a big rug on the floor, some toys and a few children’s books. It’s open to the patrons, however, and my son played for a while with the bead maze and plastic animals on offer. It’s clear that the place is owned and operated by a parent because of the a few little details that make it more kid-friendly: kid’s mac and cheese on the menu, covers on the electrical outlets, the way they squeezed a fold-out change table into the tiny bathroom.
Every other person who came in was pushing a stroller, so the word has gotten out that this is a family-friendly establishment. It’s not at all crowded on a weekend, surprisingly, given the quality of the food. Any cafe like this on Main Street would be a zoo on a Sunday afternoon. It’s a great place to linger over a coffee and browse their selection of architecture and art magazines while your little one has a stroller nap.
What’s your favourite Vancouver cafe? We’d love to hear all about it!