Good Thief: Cocktails and culinary mischief set to steal Vancouver’s hearts

Opening date is set for Vancouver’s new charismatic, resourceful, clever, and oh-so-appealing cocktail bar/restaurant

Good Thief, the “rebellious” sibling of Anh and Chi, is a new cocktail bar with share plates inspired by the tradition of the enjoyment of sitting down to eat and drink and have fun with friends and family. It opens on July 11, 2024. Photo by Juno Kim/courtesy of Good Thief

Cinema and literature love a “good thief” character. They’re charismatic, resourceful, clever, and oh-so-appealing, even if they’re bending the rules a little (or a lot).

So what if that trope is applied to a cocktail bar-slash-restaurant in Vancouver? The result is the aptly named Good Thief, which I suspect is about to steal a few hearts thanks to its inherent “goodness.”

The Good Thief team: Founders and siblings Amelie and Vincent Nguyễn, Beverage Director Ben Kingstone, Chef de Cuisine Jonathan Lee, and General Manager Ashlee Jarvis. Photo by Juno Kim/courtesy of Good Thief

Good Thief, at 3336 Main St, is considered the “rebellious” sibling to neighbour Anh and Chi, the acclaimed modern Vietnamese restaurant run by brother and sister duo Vincent Nguyễn and Amelie Thuy Nguyễn. The Nguyễns have a long tenure on this block of Main Street in Mount Pleasant that’s now home to their two restaurants; Anh and Chi operates where their parents’ restaurant was for many years.

While Anh and Chi rebelled against expectation in its own right – deftly elevating Vietnamese fare into appointment dining and out of the hole-in-the-wall realm – Good Thief is poised to shake things up.

The room, designed by Vancouver’ Ste. Marie Studio, is chic and playful, with hints of brass and art deco that give the room just enough hint of nostalgia to feel timeless. Screens partially obscure large photographs that each tell a story and set the mood, like the brazen woman in colourful garb riding through the streets of Vietnam. No, it’s not the Nguyễns’ mom, but if you want to think it is, that’s okay. Look for other motifs, like a rectangular checkerboard pattern, as well as thoughtful touches like stamped ice.

The Latok About It – a chilled martini made with latok (sea grapes) and some clever components Lindsay William-Ross/V.I.A. photo

Food and drink at Good Thief showcase innovation, global flavours

The bar itself breaks from tradition. Beverage Director Ben Kingstone was given the chance to design his dream space. While convalescing from an injury, he spent weeks coming up with the perfect space for making drinks, from the massive fridge dedicated to keeping glasses chilled to the uniform bar top that allows guests a full view of every component going into his creative drinks.

Those drinks are conversation starters, to be certain. Incorporating global ingredients and flavours and traditional and house-made spirits, infusions, and sodas, every drink has a backstory and at least one curious component. Innovation and sustainability are sibling driving forces on the ingredient list, too. For example, the Latok About It is a chilled martini served in an ice-cold glass that not only showcases latok (sea grapes) but also features something Good Thief calls “Tanqueray Wasted Citrus Distillate,” which is the product of storing discarded citrus rinds after they’re juiced for other uses in gin.

Kingstone calls the Latok About It the coldest martini you’ll get in Vancouver, and I wouldn’t fight him on it. It’s also maybe the coolest, thanks to its garnish of tiny latok and its nuanced levels of tart, tangy, and refreshing flavours, with some dots of chili oil for a flash of spice.

In addition to the clever and charismatic cocktails, Good Thief has house-made spirit-free refreshments as well as beer and wine, including a few limited-edition pours.

Pommes Frites with green curry aioli. Lindsay William-Ross/V.I.A. photo

Good Thief also has a bold food program, which spans from snacks to larger mains, but everything is designed to share. The appeal of this kind of choose-your-own-adventure dining is undeniable, given its flexibility and adaptability when it comes to a guest’s time, money, and preference. It also aligns with Good Thief’s concept, which is that it is styled after a Vietnamese tradition called “món nhậu, which basically translates to eating and drinking with others just for fun.

To that end, the food menu, curated by Chef de Cuisine Jonathan Lee (previously of Blue Water Café), presents plenty of delight and creativity. The “thievery” here comes from international techniques and ingredients, so your table might be eating British pub-style thick-cut chips dipped in a green curry aioli, served with fried curry leaves for a little extra bite.

For the more adventurous, Good Thief’s food menu features items you won’t see often at other Vancouver spots, like frog’s legs in Me’s fish sauce glaze (from Anh and Chi’s line of traditional sauces) or fresh whelk on cubes of crispy rice. And, yes, you will be able to try balut, a fertilized developing egg embryo, which is a traditional food in Vietnam.

Who is this mysterious woman riding through the streets of Vietnam? Photo by Juno Kim/courtesy of Good Thief

How to get a table at Good Thief: Reservations, opening date set

Lastly, what lends Good Thief more inherent “good” is that like its sibling, the new bar/restaurant will offer the Reservation by Donation program. This gives diners the chance to reserve a table with a donation that Good Thief puts in its entirety to local charitable organizations. It has raised over $300,000 so far next door at Anh and Chi.

So when can one experience Good Thief? The good news is, after much anticipation, the new spot will open officially on July 11.

Follow on Instagram to stay updated about the new spot.

—This story by Lindsay William-Ross originally appeared on Vancouver Is Awesome

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