Enter Awakening of the three saints, and you will be greeted by a fluffy cloud-shaped chandelier. The entryway light is the first indication that things are about to get weird (in a good way). Then the custom marbled turquoise wallpaper draws your gaze to the magenta painted ceiling, which is adorned with glowing globes, chandeliers, and other clouds, all of which conjure up a dream sequence, or perhaps even a hallucination – and that’s the point.
Three Saints Revival, the new concept by restaurateur Robert Thompson from Social Punch Bowl, is a dreamland inspired by absinthe. The tapas bar near Union Station is inspired by the design of the Parisian district of Montmartre in its bohemian glory of the early 1900s; its culinary muse is the countries around the Mediterranean. A passion project born out of a pandemic, the Beverage Restaurant opens on November 20 in the former Hearth & Dram space, not that it’s recognizable as anywhere you’ve been before. What may be familiar are the common dream (or nightmare) themes woven into the setting: experiences like flying, losing teeth, and being naked are portrayed literally and symbolically. Custom wallpaper in the hallways features winged teeth, golden busts, and coiled snakes intertwined with psychedelic patterns and colors. In bathrooms, artwork frames bend so that the pieces extend over walls, ceilings, and corners. Wavy lines painted along the floor run down the side of the bar, drawing the viewer further into reverie.
“We wanted to create something that looks like a bohemian dream sequence, maybe an absinthe-induced bohemian dream sequence,” says Thompson. “So we wanted to have bright colors, and we wanted complexity and conversation between color and pattern. It is no small trick to pull off. Thompson credits his collaborators, architect Frank Mataipule and interior designer Megan Freckelton, of FAM design– for bringing the aesthetic vision to life as Executive Chef John Broening, Beverage Director Patrick Williams and six-time James Beard Award nominee Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, the restaurant’s consultant pastry chef, developed a menu and a cocktail program just as ambitious as the decor.
Tapas are the first of the three “saints” referred to by the restaurant’s name, and Broening, formerly of Avelina and Duo, created stellar charcuterie boards and small plates with flavors drawn from Western Europe, Turkey, Israel, Greece and North Africa. To embark on a culinary tour of the Mediterranean, we recommend that you start with Spain, with the crispy-creamy potato and saffron croquettes in peperonata sauce with Calabrian peppers. Move east via Israeli-inspired eggplant with tahini and mint dressing. (“It’s like a baba ghanoush, but the modern Israeli version,” Broening says.) Then head south to North Africa and check out the tangy and smoked homemade harissa, which is served on dishes like Roasted carrots and thick juicy pork chops. End your meal where you started, with a Spanish Tocinillo del Cielo (translated as “sky bacon”), a silky flan with a layer of crispy caramelized coconut on the bottom.
As for the other two “saints”, you will find them on the drink menu in the form of wines and cocktails. Beverage Director Patrick Williams guides guests on his own journey with a wine list by the glass accompanied by a menu, urging oenophiles to select a destination rather than a red, white or rosé. (Psst, Budget Travelers: Happy Hour features four rotating “Saints’ Selections” at $ 6 a glass.) sprayed on the rim – or indulge in travel-themed libations like the silky Monarch of the Sea, a rum-based dram made from pomegranate tea and clarified milk punch (a clear, creamy liquid made in-house by removing solids from milk). And yes, you can order absinthe if you’re feeling frisky.
Whichever way you travel, don’t forget to bring a friend or two (vaccinated) on your trip. “For me, there is no better social cooking environment than tapas,” says Thompson. “And I wanted to do something important coming out of COVID. I wanted to create an environment where people could experience being together again.
1801 Wewatta Street