Review: Nelson the Seagull

Nelson the Seagull typifies what a perfect neighbourhood cafe should be.

Nestled into a vast space at 315 Carrall, Nelson the Seagull typifies what a perfect neighbourhood cafe should be.

As you enter the space, you’re confronted by its size. Large for a coffee shop, there are numerous tables, usually full, but it still has a feeling of walking into your friend's home, casual, laid black, but nicely put together. On any given day, the tables are filled with people working and chatting. Don’t dawdle if you want to get a spot, because even early on a Saturday morning while picking up bread, it was usually full. 

Working isn’t just for the computer-bound. The sounds and smells of bread making are unmissable, with multiple people working in the back, layering dough, and mixing ferments. Breadmaking takes a special type of person, someone scientifically inclined who loves early mornings. I salute them. 

The bakery specializes in bread, with basic sourdough ($9), chocolate ($10), olive and rosemary $12), baguettes ($4.50) and more. They use a two-day fermentation to get that tangy sourdough flavour. It’s a versatile bread, the type you want around your house all the time. At the shop, use it to make a range of sandwiches for anyone needing a quick lunch. 

  • Artisanal bread like this isn’t cheap anywhere. But at $9, it’s not a bad deal compared to other places.

They also produce many pastries and cookies. While Nelson shines at bread, the croissant dough is less flaky than I prefer, more dense than average for croissants. But their cookies are robust, with a chewy peanut butter cookie that reminds me of home baking.

Like many places, grocery products have become increasingly popular. Packaged coffee and artisanal tea, fine sea salt, granola, butter, they’ve got it all. Baking lovers will appreciate their sourdough kits. 

A place like Nelson the Seagull could fit perfectly in any Vancouver neighbourhood. A place to meet, hangout, pick up some bread and coffee, stock up on fresh eggs, and continue with your day. It’s not a fancy coffee place serving complex lattes, but that’s the point — everyone needs bread and everyone deserves a community coffee space. tow