Exploring the Armoury District
Fine art. Sophisticated furniture. Gourmet eats. Welcome to the Armoury District. Kelly Marion explores the area that has become the creative hub for interior designers, architects and gallery owners, a stone's throw from Granville Island, between 1st and 3rd. In this ongoing series, the Vancouver Observer profiles the businesses that make the Armoury District unique.
On a rainy day, I rode my bike towards Granville Island to explore The Amoury District. The Armoury District is the area between West 1st and West 4th, Granville to Burrard right by Granville Island. It's being called Vancouver's hottest design district and the "new Yaletown" because of the growing number of designers and architects gravitating to the 'hood, drawn by large commercial spaces renting at less expensive rates than in the real Yaletown. But I was there to eat lunch.
At the corner of Fir and West 2nd, next to Reckless Bikes, is Apollonia’s, a Greek restaurant with a simple ambiance. I ordered the Greek Platter ($18.95). With the platter comes moussaka, buttered pita and humous, lamb souvlaki, satziki, rice (but I ordered it without), roast potatoes, and Greek salad.
I had read that Apollonia had the “freshest Greek salad”. My initial skepticism was quickly trumped as I bit into the crisp vegetables and the freshly crumbled feta. I appreciated that it was served in a light dressing with a nice olive oil- to-red wine vinegar ratio. Its flavour was subtly accentuated by herbs. The vegetables were bite-size, and wasn't overloaded with red onions like you'll find at some restaurants.
The moussaka sauce was heavier in flour than it was butter, creating a thick, soufflé-like topping.
The lamb souvlaki with satziki and the Greek salad were the highlights of the platter.
A couple ordered three calamari orders for take-out so, naturally, I had to see what the fuss was all about. I ordered an appetizer portion, despite already having a full platter in front of me.
For $10.95, I was given a healthy amount of squid rings from the mantle (body), but no tentacles or heads. The calamari had a light batter and was served with two slices of in-house made baguettes, which had a crisp exterior and chewy interior.
Apollonia is open for lunch Tuesday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner Tuesday to Sunday 5 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Next, I went across the street to East India Carpets (EIC). EIC has been in the Armoury District since 1948, and is the anchor of the neighbourhood.
With over 60 years in business, EIC acquires and sells carefully crafted carpets handmade carpets. Since every knot is tied by hand, it can take a weaver up to 6,500 hours to weave a 9 x 12 foot rug with a tight density of knots.
Because of this incredibly labour intensive process, I imagined that the cost of the carpets would be astronomical. But East India Carpets offers a carpet for every budget, ranging from a thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. They even have a reduced section where the budget shopper with an appreciation for Oriental carpets can find the perfect fit for a home or work space. Ultimately, the price of the carpet depends on the country of origin, material, size and quality.
I made a few laps around the store, and pinpointed some of my favourites, which included a textured silk and wool carpet ($7,500), an intricate carpet from India made from 100% silk ($22,000) and a colour-splashed Nepalese carpet ($9,800).
Florence Bradhurst, "Navy Sun"
Newer designs include patterns by Missoni, as well as beautiful shag and silk carpets. When treated carefully, a quality carpet is a lifetime investment. Today, I was just window shopping. But when I'm ready to buy a carpet someday, I know exactly where to go.
There's a heavy concentration of "cool" in this part of town, shops full of character with intriguing furniture, art, and yummy stuff to eat. I headed down Fir towards Granville Island and soon I was on the seawall, but I'll be back to explore more of The Armoury District soon.
East India Carpets is located at 1606 West 2nd Avenue and is open seven days a week.