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Piknik: Granville gem with great prices

The VO foodie's food rating: 4/5

  • Great location
  • Reasonable prices
  • Fresh ingredients

This locals-only gem just a block from the Granville Entertainment District is the kind of cafe that down-to-Earth foodies fall in love with. Piknik is sandwiched between two bland, chain coffee shops and while some cafes would shy away from such competition, owner Lise loves offering a homemade alternative to her cardboard cut-out neighbours. Having just started in May, Piknik is tackling summer with a menu that celebrates fresh ingredients and delicious food pairings, then offering them at great prices.

Piknik in Vancouver

Piknik opens its friendly doors each morning at 7:00 am, offering five unique breakfast sandwiches under $5. Each breakfast sandwich comes on a whole grain bagel, served hot and perfect for take-out. Fan favourites include the 'Ariel' that pairs egg and BBQ salmon with a caper dill cream cheese ($4.99), and the 'Lone Ranger' that brings together egg, sirloin steak, sautéed mushrooms and cheddar cheese ($4.99). I tried both sandwiches and their flavour combinations each worked well. The pickled taste of the caper dill cream cheese plays perfectly with the sweet, smoky BBQ salmon, and the peppery, seasoned steak strips combined with the sharp cheddar cheese give the Lone Ranger a punch you won't find in a chain restaurant's menu.

Slow down your morning rush and take some "me time" for yourself with freshly ground, organic, fair-trade coffee (served in a French press) or tea— each only $1.50.

Piknik's tasty ham and potato brioche

For lunch, Piknik mixes feel-good food with some interesting creations like their daily Thai sweet potato soup (Cup $3.95 / Bowl $5.75); a blend of sweet potatoes, ginger, red curry paste, coconut milk, and finished with a secret ingredient (visit their website or drop in for lunch to taste it!). The Thai sweet potato soup is dairy-, gluten-, and meat-free with no added thickeners, so it's a great option for those of us on special diets. For something more substantial, try the 'Homer' sandwich; slow-cooked pulled pork dripping with a homemade BBQ sauce and served on a freshly baked baguette ($8.50). 

 Piknik also blends fresh daily specials into the lineup. When I stopped in, a quinoa salad was the lunch of the day. I've never seen quinoa featured in a dish on Granville St. before, so I had to try it. If you're not familiar with quinoa, it's a South American staple grain that has long been enjoyed in Spanish-speaking kitchens. Quinoa is a versatile and healthy choice that you've probably already seen featured in the Food Network's 'Chopped' basket and is popular enough that the United Nations named 2013 the "International Year of Quinoa." 

At Piknik, I enjoyed a grilled chicken breast and quinoa salad on a bed of baby spinach mixed with corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, multicoloured bell peppers, and cilantro. The Southwest-themed ingredients were tossed with a tangy citrus dressing, created from a homemade and tongue-tingling mix of virgin olive oil, lime and lemon juice, garlic, and a secret mix of seven different spices.

I was able to get Lise to tell me that one of the ingredients is chili powder, but she remains tight-lipped on the rest. In addition to being delicious, the chicken and quinoa spinach salad is a great example of how Piknik is putting ground-to-table greens on the menu, then splashing them with upbeat flavours so you can enjoy lunch without going back to work in a "food coma."

If tasty breakfasts and healthy lunches don't pique your interest, try out Piknik's delicious Italian sodas: Raspberry Pomegranate, Chocolate Macadamia, and Mango Blood Orange, all topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream making it the perfect treat for Vancouver's three weeks of summer!

Piknik is located on 1075 Howe Street. 

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