I am about to make a bold claim: I have found the so-titled “Best Mac in Vancouver…So Far.” The Acme Café has now set the standard for Macaroni and Cheese. From here on out, all Macs will be compared with the Acme Mac.
I was dying to go to the Acme Café long before the buzz started. I’m not usually up on the buzz to begin with. All the buzz that I had was from my husband: “You know, they’re gonna put in a café there. That’ll be nice.” Indeed! As “there” is right beside Axé Capoeira, where we spend 3-5 evenings a week!
It seemed like the windows were covered with beige paper forever. Finally, I walked by one day and saw, in the place of papered-up windows, a delightful old-fashioned diner filled with customers.
The white and chocolate brown interior of Acme Café looks far too nice for its address at 51 West Hastings Street (at Abbott Street in Gastown). Nestled in-between a retail shop that specializes in clothing, shoes, and accessories for the exotic dancer and the aforementioned martial arts academy, the Acme Café is on the cusp of two worlds: the now-gentrified Woodward’s block and the DTES. Don’t let that address fear or fool you, it is all style inside.
But really, I am not here to talk about style. I’m here to talk about food. And this is just the kind of food I like to talk about…and eat! The Acme Café is all about comfort food. I was drooling before we even made it to the booth. With three pies on display, as well as an assortment of cookies and pastries, I couldn’t wait to order.
Although I came for the Mac’n'Cheese specifically, I was torn when I heard the “Crock Pot Special.” The Special—which was later accidentally and, I believe, unknowingly referred to as the “Crack Pot Special” by another customer—was Provençal Lamb Stew. I am a big soup and stew fan and I couldn’t resist. Fortunately, I talked my husband and little one into getting the Mac’n'Cheese, so that I could have the best of both worlds. We ordered milkshakes as appetizers.
My son and I split a chocolate shake, which the polite and freakishly tall waiter (remember: he’s not looming over you as you order, he’s just really tall!) was kind enough to put into two glasses, each with their own dollops of whipped cream and cherries. My husband got the strawberry shake. Our chocolate shakes went down in two shakes. However, my husband remarked of his own creamy concoction: “This strawberry shake leaves something to be desired and that something is more strawberry flavour.” By the time our meals arrived, we had forgotten all about this little hiccup.
My Lamb Stew was overflowing the bowl, not in a sloppy way, but in a “Look at that mound of lamb, potato, carrot, and onion goodness” sort of way. It also came with a green salad with oil and vinegar dressing and a soft whole wheat dinner bun. This is comfort food the way you imagine it.
After sharing a bite of my stew with my husband, I asked, “Wow, don’t you wish I made crock pot food like this?” To which he replied, “You do. You make great soups.” I told him, “Not in a crock pot. You’ve had my crock pot fiascos before…” After a long pause, “Oh…then yes, I do wish you made crock pot food like that.” Not that I want to make the Acme Café a hub of disease, but if you are ever feeling under the weather, then this is the place to go. Nothing calms the soul and nourishes the body like a hearty stew.
Ok, here is the moment that you have been waiting for…
The “Mac and Cheese, with salad, $8,” is unassuming on the menu, but a sight to behold on the plate. There is nothing more boring than a dry Mac’n'Cheese, but you’re safe from that tedium here. This is one saucy Mac. The noodles are swimming in what tastes like an Alfredo-like sauce with white cheddar. The bubbly mounds of noodles are topped with a crust of baked cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. It is simply delicious. And for $8, the Mac is the kind of value-packed meal you’ve been looking for in this economic recession.
My one regret is that the meals were so filling that we couldn’t order any pie. But I’ll be back. I’ll be back.
51 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 1G4