Save On MeatsPosted: 02/27/2013
As a kid, my family would drive by Save On Meats every once in a while, since it was on our way to Harbour Tower or Stanley Park. This was considered the “bad” part of town, and I suppose for some it still may be–there would be lots of haggardly dressed men and women wandering the streets, pushing shopping carts and looking “scary”, and I was never, ever to go here. Basically, this part of Vancouver was just Chinatown, Gastown and Downtown, and the part in between was not worth talking about, or visiting, at all.
Many years later, I still find myself being extra wary when I’m in the neighbourhood, and I know that while I should be careful, there is no need to cast such negative eyes on the residents of the DTES. Sure, some may have habits that aren’t very appealing to me, but their misfortune shouldn’t be a reason for me to not venture here– in fact, I think I could stand to learn quite a bit. So, with just a little bit of trepidation, Samson and I travelled together to grab a bite at this Vancouver landmark on a cold winter day before class.
The interior of Save on Meats is quite simplistic– there’s the typical bar and a long row of booths that characterizes diners. We chose to sit along the bar for the fun of it (the seats looked extra cushy), and were immediately, enthusiastically greeted by our server. And when I say enthusiastic, I mean that he was so happy and eager that I was worried he might start breaking out in song and dance. Actually, that would have been pretty cool.
The menu offered up simplistic classics as well, but it was a long read– I really couldn’t decide on what to get! We opted for a classic diner experience and decided to share a Strawberry Milkshake ($5) to start. This was super creamy and thick, and sucking on the straw gave me a bit of a headache. Our server put in quite a few scoops of ice cream and syrupy strawberries and I loved that we got to watch it all get made before our eyes. I’m a sucker for novelty stuff like this.
Samson had already decided that he would be having a burger, so all we really needed to do was find one on the menu (under the Sandwich section). His Save On Meats Burger ($6.95) came in a toasted brioche bun, loaded up with bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, and was accompanied by a coleslaw on the side, which he chose instead of fries. He thought that the burger was quite juicy and delicious, the barbecue sauce helping to make this typical burger a little more special. While this tasted good and was a pretty good deal, I don’t know if we’d order it again, since there are so many other things to try on the menu.
For myself, I picked something old-timey and classic (I can imagine an elderly man, looking like Carl from Up, ordering something like this) in the Smoked Turkey Pot Pie ($12.95). I didn’t really give the description a good read, and it turns out this was featured of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives– not that I watch the show anyways, so it wouldn’t have helped my decision all that much. I also got to choose a side to go with the pot pie, and out of creamed corn, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and carrots and peas, I chose the mashed potatoes. Housed in a flaky, buttery pastry shell, the smoked turkey stew within was savoury and steaming hot. There was an abundance of fillings, including carrots and green peas (which I won’t eat unless they are stewed like this), and the dark turkey meat was moist and flavourful. I was honestly expected the turkey to be on the dryer side, but this was actually very well executed! The mash was a little too healthy tasting, needing a good dose of butter, cream and pepper, but I did like that there were still small chunks of potato in it. The gravy, which came on a side dish (props), did help alleviate the health issue.
There were so many options for delicious-sounding food and drink that I would not hesitate to go to Save On Meats again, if I didn’t need to be on the ice for 3 hours afterwards (that way I can eat more!). I loved the atmosphere, the workers and the clientele (there was an eclectic mix of businessmen and women, as well as students and families), which all made for a fantastic experience. Another thing of note is that Save On Meats has a meal token program, where individuals can buy tokens to give out sandwiches to the community (either by themselves or through other organizations). Even though Save On Meats is by no means a complete representation of the DTES, I found my opinion of the area changing just a little bit– I’ll even be volunteering there this weekend!
Save on Meats
43 W Hastings St