Nelson The Seagull
Nelson the Seagull in Gastown is a rustic bakery and coffee cafe that pays tributes to Nelson Mandela with a song, "The Seagull's Name Was Nelson". The song was played on the radio by his supporters to let him know they were thinking of him while being imprisoned. Since the song wasn't originally created for political reasons and didn't refer to Mandela directly, it was never banned.
Once you step in, you'll see the original mosaic tiled floor of the Rainer hotel, and furnishing to reflect the building's age and architecture. Every table, including the main counter was built from scratch. Behind the counter there is a photo of young Nelson Mandela as a boxer. The cozy cafe was established by a group of 3 from South Africa, Lee Snelgar, Jodi Balfour and Jonathan Snelgar.
WHAT WE TRIED:
Avocado Toast | $8 | Homemade sour dough slice with butter & avocado
Picnic Board | $15 | Selection of best goods, including pesto, chutney & hummus
Cappucino | $3.75 |Elysian Roastery
Flat White | $4 |Elysian Roastery
Tea | $3 | Chai, English Breakfast, Jasmine
Chocolate Croissant | $4
Jam Wheel | $4
The cafe offers handcrafted coffee drinks with locally roasted beans from Elysian and simple food done right. The espresso drinks are made with the Rancilo Manual Lever Commercial Espresso Machine. The food menu includes sour dough toasts, sandwiches, soup, picnic boards, fresh fruit, pastries and homemade ginger beer and lemonade. The sweet pastries are made with whatever fruits are in season and savoury pastries are made with seasonal farmer crops.
The most popular item on Instagram is the avocado sourdough toast. The avocado frequently sells out by the early afternoon on weekends. Come early if you plan on ordering it!
The upper floor of the cafe is used as social housing. South of there looks like a farmers & artisan market but as you get closer youèll see homeless and drug addicts selling items. It gets a bit rough looking south of the cafe in the Hastings area. If you are walking and concerned, we suggest walking from Waterfront Station along Water St or Cordova.
Nelson the Seagull occupies the first floor of a heritage building, Rainier Hotel, purchased by the province of British Columbia. The upper floor is used for social housing. The spot is a huge room converted to a space that feels like a home living room welcoming people to break bread. It is a very very open space for working, reading, meeting and eating with friends.
We noticed many families walk in and leave when they don't see a table just for them.. You'll need to get use to communal tables here. We often join a table that seats 4 with 2 people already sitting there. We think this is great to foster dialogue over coffee and bread.
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF NELSON THE SEAGULL:
Coming here just for the sourdough bread is worth it. The avocado is always fresh green colour when we go. The popularity of the avocado toast results in them running out for the day often which leaves us in disappointment. Always come early if you want to eat this. Although the space is large, finding a seat can be challenging on weekends. Seating is first come first serve. Depending on your luck, you may need to wait for a table. The team created an incredible bakery & cafe, unfortunately they still need to work on their customer service and not running out of avocado often. If there are any dishes or drinks you love at Nelson The Seagull and think we should try it next time, feel free to contact us!
- Simple food done right.
- Quiet space giving off the feeling of home.
- Sourdough loafs are on point!
- No descriptions on menu. No idea what are in the sandwiches.
- Needs friendlier customer service.
- Website has broken links. Also no prices online!