“French café meets prairie kitchen” in Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood
Armand Tencha and Jeff Jefkins happily announce the opening of their comfort cafe, Lily Mae’s. Located in historic Gastown, a neighourhood Tencha and Jefkins have called home for the past seven years, the cozy 25-seat dining destination packs a charming punch. Equal parts Euro-flair and prairie-inspiration, a nod to its founder’s roots.
“We think of Gastown as a village within a city,” says Jefkins. “People say hi on the street and stop to visit one another. Many wonderful restaurants and coffee houses help create a neighbourhood here, yet we see call for a space that is quaint, homey and approachable – offering good food at a fair price.”
The restaurant is named after Jefkins’ mom, an accomplished baker whose cookies, cakes and squares are to blame for what Jefkins calls, “my lifelong sweet tooth.” Jefkins and Tencha pay homage to this woman, who still sends out an annual care package via mail of tasty delights every Christmas. Besides having a great name, she embodies what they want the restaurant to be: a comfortable, approachable go-to place filled with homey, good food, and love — along with a healthy dash of style. They describe it as “French café meets prairie kitchen.”
Chef Ru Lee is at the helm of Lily Mae’s kitchen. Lee began her career at The Fish House in Stanley Park, where she worked for several years as an apprentice under Executive Chef Karen Barnaby. She received her Red Seal in 2011. Under the direction of Executive Chef Barnaby, she worked on all stations at The Fish House, from prep to first cook to pastry.
Chef prepares daily lunch and dinner offerings that include fresh salads, hearty paninis and sandwiches, and traditional entrees. Stand-out, true-to-concept dishes will delight diners, including: the Coq au Vin Blanc; house-made Sausage with braised Fennel, Leek and Cabbage; and Beef Bourguignon. In the dessert department, decadent treats such as the Crème Brule Duo and the Spiced Apple Bacon Cake with caramel sauce, set out to satisfy. Weekend brunch is all the better at Lily Mae’s with a line-up of classic favourites. Benedicts are jazzed up with rich red wine hollandaise sauce; Sweet Potato Pancakes are laden with sticky brown sugar sauce and toasted pecans; and Ru’s Omelette is destined to stir a following – a ham and cheese omelet roll topped with bacon bits and cheddar cheese — and sausages served with hash and toast.
Complementing the comfort fare, a thoughtfully-curated wine list shouts-out New and Old World offerings — available by the glass or bottle — alongside a selection of local and international beer, and classic highballs. Lily Mae’s proudly brews coffee from Mogiana – a family owned and operated company named after the valley in Brazil where the beans are grown. The hand-picked beans are lauded for profound aromas, rich taste and smooth finish.
Lily Mae’s is open 11 am to 9 pm Monday to Wednesday; 11 am to 11 pm Thursday and Friday; Saturday from 10 am to 11 pm; and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.
Lily Mae’s Cafe
12 Powell Street
About the Owners
Armand Tencha and Jeff Jefkins celebrated their 20th year together a few weeks before Lily Mae’s opened its doors. While the couple would like to pretend they met in their childhood, the reality is that the two met in their 20s while both living in Winnipeg (do the math…they are in their 40s). Shortly after they met, they moved together to Vancouver to start a new life. Armand had just moved back to his native Winnipeg from Montreal where he had co-owned and operated a catering business and café. Jeff, who grew up in small town Manitoba, came to the big city of Vancouver to pursue a career in marketing. For years, Armand worked in the restaurant business and Jeff worked his way through the corporate ranks. When Jeff’s job went poof in early 2012, the two decided to switch gears and fulfill something they had nattered about to friends and family for years. And Lily Mae’s was born.