Rhizome – A Home from Home in East Van, How We Miss You (and a Hello to Heartwood!)

by L Matthews on December 30, 2013

My book signing!

I held my super-low-key book-signing at Rhizome/Heartwood!

Posting a review of Rhizome as part of my Vancouver 2013 food round-up is a little sad as this wonderful place is now gone, but as Lisa and Vinetta are planning on a new incarnation following their move to Toronto, I hope that this helps foster a nice glow around their new space. Rhizome was a fabulous piece of the East Van community; I know people who moved to East Van just to be closer to Rhizome and, I confess, it drew me too when moving from Kitsilano.

Rhizome – My Office Away from Home!

Vegan-friendly, queer-friendly, freelancer-friendly, Rhizome became my office many an afternoon and helped stave off procrastination with its lure of vegan chai (extra spice!), London Fogs (Vinetta made a great soy London fog!), and baked vegan goods of which I occasionally partook. I live about three minutes’ walk away from this place and am pretty much guaranteed to run into somebody I know if I’m here for more than half an hour, which is a nice way to socialise when you work from home and are beginning to suspect that your dog’s conversation is not proving stimulating enough to keep you sane.

New Beginnings at Rhizome

Literary events, community events, and a general wonderousness surrounded Rhizome. It was a sad day when the news was broken that the founders would be moving to Ontario but all credit to them in the way they handled that changeover, holding out until they found a buyer for the business who would keep up the great community space. I admit to being a little suspicious of the takeover by a religious organisation but am happy to report no zealotry seeping out of the walls.

heartwood lentil stew and veggie burger

The vegan lentil stew and veggie burger (C. Logan Trudeau)

After an online and in-cafe poll that seemed to go on forever, United Trinity Church finally picked the name Heartwood for the old Rhizome space. It’s grown on me, but I still call it old Rhizome most of the time. Sorry guys. They’re taking a little while to take full ownership of the place, which is really rather nice as I think any brash changes would’ve upset the regulars who made this their home for many years. The staff are all lovely, some having stayed from Rhizome days and others all shiny and new and adorably flustered when people bus their own plates and cups.

Heartwood’s Menu – Still Vegan-Friendly!

I’ve had a few moments where I know the menu better than the new staff, which makes me smile. I’m glad to see that short of a bit of a reorganising of the coding system for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, the menu’s not really changed. My favourite polenta dish is still there (with optional Daiya), as is the caramelised onion and veggie ciabatta (gloriously messy!), and their daily vegan soup. The new kitchen staff seem to be getting on top of things after a little bit of a wobbly start but the whole transition seems to have been quite gentle and quiet and I think that’s worked well for them.

Brunch at Heartwood on Weekends

The first weekend after they opened, I rallied a little group of brunchsters there and we were the only people in for quite a while which was a little awkward and sad. Now, however, the place is often busy, with the same old lulls during the day that Rhizome had, and I think people have come back to the space, seeing that it still has the same mandate that Lisa and Vinetta worked with. The brunch menu (available on the weekend) is pretty much unchanged from Rhizome’s, with two types of tofu scramble (a little soggy for my liking), and banana and kamut pancakes (which are good!).

Community and Knitting at Heartwood

I’m yet to go to a community event there and things have been slow to happen as they have only just appointed an events organiser, but I see 2014 being a prosperous year and am hopeful for the space.

As part of a monthly knitting group I suggested we met there and so have introduced a few new people to Heartwood and their delicious vegan and gluten-free black bean brownies! They also had a fantastic lemon strudel cake type thing recently that did, as promised by the staff, taste like meringue. Delicious! (If you’re interested in joining in with knitting send me an email!)

Great big tables for crafting, a tucked away booth in the back for friend hangouts, a comfy sofa, toys and books for the kids (and a free community library) and a quiet and low key work atmosphere, Rhizome, ahem, Heartwood is a great vegan-friendly place in East Van for fidgety freelancers, friends, families, and fostering community.

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