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The Short Version: The Acorn has helped revolutionize the Vancouver restaurant scene by making fresh vegetables the main attraction in every meal. Its seasonal menu highlights healthy and flavorful produce sourced from local farms. Restaurant owners Scott and Shira Blustein, who also own The Arbor, challenge diners to experience familiar dishes with a creative vegetable-forward twist, and the restaurant’s romantic atmosphere sets the mood for a one-of-a-kind date night on Main Street.
Vancouver couple Scott and Shira Blustein got married and opened their first restaurant, called The Acorn, in the same month in 2012. The newlyweds had a lot on their plates, to say the least.
“It was a little bit crazy, and I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way,” Scott said with a laugh. “But it worked out well.”
The Acorn’s first customers were Scott and Shira’s relatives and friends, who were in town for the wedding. These out-of-towners tried the menu and gave the newlyweds helpful feedback on the overall culinary experience.
From the beginning, Scott and Shira have endeavored to create something wholly original by cultivating fresh flavors and a hip atmosphere. The Acorn boasts a vegetable-forward menu, meaning veggies are the star of the show. The dishes are named things like “Radish” and “Carrot” to emphasize the importance of those simple ingredients.
Over the years, the Acorn has built a stellar reputation thanks to its unique and elegant use of natural vegetables and fruits. Couples often come here to treat themselves to something extraordinary, and the sultry music, romantic lighting, and delectable food don’t disappoint.
The restaurant’s atmosphere contributes to its quiet charm. This decor is natural and timeless — just like the menu. You see a lot of dark stained wood and live green plants. The space has a modern, minimalistic feel that makes a stark impression.
“It’s dark, moody, and romantic,” Scott said. “The building used to be an old Italian place that had been around for 25 years — it was a real institution in the neighborhood — and we wanted to maintain the character and soul of that place while rejuvenating it.”
Scott and Shira even take the time to put together an original playlist of underground music performed by little-known artists. Scott said he often sees people taking out their phones to look up the song that’s playing, and the music can help break the ice by giving patrons something to discuss or ponder.
“We want people to feel comfortable while having this unique experience,” Scott said. “Our vegetable-forward mission differentiates us from others in the area. We’re a plant-based restaurant, so we source all our produce from farms throughout British Columbia.”
The Acorn typically only accepts reservations for its family table, which seats six to eight people. All other tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s a good idea to show up early to beat the crowds because The Acorn can have quite a wait. Customers can also make reservations for any size table on Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, or other major holidays. Be sure to book a few weeks in advance to ensure you get the time slot you want.
The Acorn changes its menu every few months to accentuate the flavors of the season. Just choosing a drink at the bar is a tall order because everything looks tasty. The signature cocktails infuse premium liquors with organic fruits and vegetables, and the bar also serves non-alcoholic fruit drinks, including house-made lemonade.
Then you get to the brunch or dinner menu where you’ll find inventive vegetarian dishes plated with precision and care.
Chef Brian Luptak is constantly coming up with creative ways to present colorful and healthy vegetarian dishes so that customers go away feeling utterly satiated. In addition to his job experience at large hotel chains and family-owned restaurants, Brian has an educational background in art and design, so he has an eye for beauty, which helps him put together an altogether stunning dish.
The Acorn cultivates love and appreciation for food among its staff, and every dish is lovingly prepared and carried to patrons. “We take a lot of pride in how food comes out and lands on the table,” Scott said. “Presentation is key.”
The Acorn’s menu is full of surprising yet familiar dishes — such as fried artichokes and waffles — that satisfy vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, and everyone in between. The Halloumi is a particular favorite, and Scott said it’s perfect for diners who are a little wary of the meatless menu. This beer-battered fried cheese makes for an indulgent and filling entrée supported by a zucchini and potato pancake as well as smashed peas and mint yogurt.
The Acorn offers a meatless menu where vegetables aren’t disguised as meat substitutes or apologetically plated in side dishes. Vegetables are the centerpiece to every appetizer and main dish. Whether you’re digging into a crispy cauliflower and mushroom risotto or splitting a chocolate almond fudge brownie, you can experience the pleasure of a simple, wholesome, and filling meal made fresh just for you.
“What I really appreciate about the Acorn is their attention to detail,” said Vanessa N. in a Yelp review. “Each dish was composed of more then a handful of ingredients, which can be difficult to make work harmoniously. But everything was incredibly balanced, visually stunning, and craveable.”
The Acorn celebrates fresh food and brings people together with its seasonal flavors. Inspired by its success, the adventurous culinary team keep pushing themselves to innovate, collaborate, and grow. They have traveled to farms in the U.S. and Canada and hosted exclusive dinners where they can test their skills.
Once or twice a year, The Acorn arranges a special dinner in collaboration with a local winery or brewery. This ticketed event features fresh food paired with premium wines or beers. The Acorn kitchen creates a five-course meal, while the winery or brewery handpicks the perfect beverage to accompany each dish.
The first Vintage + Veg event in June 2015 was a big hit, especially among couples. These annual dinners include up to 36 guests, making it an intimate yet social setting for a memorable date.
Many locals have been coming to The Acorn for years and have seen their relationships blossom one meal at a time. The restaurant’s regulars savor one-of-a-kind meals while lingering in the warm and friendly atmosphere.
“The Acorn has always been my ‘Special Occasion’ go-to,” said Rhiannon W. in a Facebook review. “They have the most beautiful vegan food, great staff, lovely cocktails, and a really romantic setting.”
The Acorn invites diners to treat themselves to a memorable experience, and many couples choose this restaurant as the setting for their most romantic moments together. Scott said he remembers one couple who met for a first date at The Acorn and now return to the restaurant as a family with children in tow. They visit The Acorn when they’re celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions.
“It’s amazing to see,” he said. “That makes everything worthwhile, just knowing we’ve touched lives and can play such a positive role in Vancouver.”
Scott and Shira opened The Arbor a few years ago so diners would have a nearby place to go drink some wine while waiting for their table during a dinner rush at The Acorn. “We now need a third place for that,” Scott joked. “The Arbor’s line is always out the door.”
The Arbor has taken The Acorn’s farm-fresh menu and run with it, offering creative, filling, and eye-catching dishes with bold flavors. The Arbor offers plant-based comfort food, and the kitchen doesn’t cut any corners. They even make ketchup and mustard in-house.
The Arbor menu is focused on vegetables, but it’s not all salads and rabbit food here. The kitchen makes hearty vegetarian burgers, flatbreads, tacos, and steamed buns. Its appetizers include classics like crispy onion rings as well as experimental dishes like salty broccoli popcorn. The Southern Fried Artichoke Sandwich is among the most popular dishes on the menu. One look at the ingredients is enough to explain why. Eggplant bacon. Acocado mousse. Spicy mayo. All on a ciabatta bun? Yes, please.
The Arbor is on a mission to make vegetables not only palatable but enjoyable. In the words of the website, “We’re not interested in going to great lengths to fool someone into thinking they’re munching on meat. Our food is made from vegetables, and we’re happy to show off the variety and amazing potential they can offer.”
Many couples flock to The Arbor during the spring and summer because the restaurant has a gorgeous backyard patio lit with sparkling lights and surrounded by greenery. “We wanted to make the patio into something really special,” Scott told us. “It’s an incredibly romantic place for a casual date night.”
It can be rare to find a date spot that offers an imaginative menu, charismatic service, and a comfortable atmosphere, but The Acorn checks all those boxes and then some. This upscale restaurant has earned a reputation in Vancouver for serving fresh and original dishes that are as fun to look at as they are to eat.
Scott and Shira started their marriage and their restaurant in 2012, and they’ve reaped the benefits of their ambition and vision in the years since. Now the couple owns two vegetable-forward restaurants in Vancouver, and they continually update original menus designed to satisfy diners of all ages and dietary habits.
“We definitely like to keep things fresh,” Scott said. “The menu changes seasonally to highlight the flavors in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other fresh ingredients.”