MINIMALIST BURGERS, BIODYNAMIC WINE, AND LOCAL, CRAFT BEER
When Their There opened just under a year ago, there was something suspicious about the large walls of light oak paneling that shut off the back part of the café. Perhaps an office for the very busy team behind the highly successful bakery-restaurant duo of Their There and AnnaLena? Or was something else brewing? Understanding proprietors Mikey Robbins and Jeff Parr, who together possess a seemingly unquenchable desire to create, you’d be correct to assume the latter. Fast-forward to December 2018 and a new project was born: an essentials-focused, straight-to-the-chase, late-night burger and fries joint called Hundy.
Open from Thursday night at 5:30 pm until late Sunday night, Hundy sells out of their selections nightly. The unadorned menu features burgers three ways: your basic hamburger (homemade secret sauce with pickles and greens), the same beef patty with cheese, and another with cheese and bacon. The beef patty is made from meat sourced by local butcher Two Rivers Specialty Meats, using brisket and shoulder cuts. A miso-based glaze and spiced aioli sauce add flavour rich beyond what one would expect from such a strong focus on minimalism.
The first two weekends Hundy tested out their burger concept, lineups trailing up 4th Ave past multiple storefronts meant that dinner here could be a hard bet. Talking with one employee of neighbouring Aesop, I was told she never got off work in time to see what all the hype was about. Parr and Robbins quickly found a solution. When they began to open Thursday evenings in addition to Friday and Saturday, their celebrated fried chicken sandwich was added to the menu; so too was a veggie patty for those eating plant-based. All items are served on their house-made, Canadian-sourced-wheat bun: a throwback to the simple-ingredient, buttery-rich sweetness of grandmother-era, homemade buns.
Those familiar with the AnnaLena dining room will know that Robbins themed the restaurant’s design on his own grandmothers; two big influences in his life. Walking into Hundy, it’s clear that theme was extended into this exciting nook of nostalgia: two mid-century, chrome kitchen chairs with green, floral vinyl sit in front of retro, white and pink blossom printed wallpaper. Hints of his own hip-hop inspired teenage years also appear: storm-trooper art, 90’s action-adventure VHS cases, graffiti paint streaks on the back white walls, concrete-cast Nike shoe ornaments with dried floral arrangements, and those same Bearbrick-themed collectible figurines. For anyone who grew up in North America during the 90s, the common visuals––while certainly an expression of the self––feel like an invitation to join the Hundy team in fond reminiscence.
Hundy keeps in lockstep theme with Their There’s beverage menu. Featuring light and dark vino from local, small-scale (often permaculture- and biodynamic- based) vineyards, you can come to this burger joint and not have to drink cheap wine. The Interior’s Lock and Worth sent over their 2017 Semillon, and Okanagan Falls’ new players Rigour and Whimsy gave Hundy their very first release: a single-vineyard, two-month skin-fermented, 15 month barrel-aged, 2016 Pinot Blanc. Hundy also serves Pender Island’s Sea Star Estate wines which are made from Saturna Island grapes. But don’t fret: Old World wines aren’t excluded. Italy’s Medici Ermete and Slovenia’s Movia bottles can be found behind the bar, as well as Reds from France’s stunning Domaine De Majas Vineyard. Because of this care in sourcing, the wine list at Hundy can change week to week. Here is a place you can go to test out new, small-batch, natural wines, especially if you’re one to have recently heard of their expanding popularity among conscious connoisseurs and looking for a place to inquire about them.
But burgers without beer? Nope, not here. Hundy routinely teams up with Vancouver’s best breweries. While most nights see multiple breweries offered on four different taps, specified nights have Hundy ushering in certain breweries for Tap Takeovers. When we visited, Mount Pleasant’s 33 Acres was in the driver’s seat offering their Hazy Pilsner, Pacific Hazy- and Farmhouse- Pale Ales, as well as their Farmhouse IPA. Valentine’s Weekend saw Luppolo Brewing do a Tap Takeover with a Northwest Red, Kviek IPA, Tart Wild Mango Ale, and Morello Cherry Sour. This partnership is apropos of why Jeff Parr and Mikey Robbins are so successful; inviting small businesses to come together and place what each other do in the limelight, is what so many of us are so thrilled to see. If food is about community, then those who aim to create it are on the right path.
On our many visits to Hundy, we saw Instagram-loving millennials stream in (yes, that includes us!), but so too did we see boomers pile in, as well as families with preteens excited for a dinner they can actually enjoy! Hundy clears the way for guests to feel both welcome and engaged; the counter service allows room for patrons to mingle, unconstrained to one seat. With a menu that’s in such high demand, but hours that allow them to stay open late into the night (Parr told me around 1:30 am), Hundy isn’t just a place to grab grub; it’s a place to come and hang with other locals.
We hope to see you there!