ISSUE 34  |  Summer Wrap-Up

Sun-Stained Afternoons (and Yoga) at Nelson the Seagull, in Vancouver

August 27, 2014 3:00 PM

BY Alexa Hotz

Remember life before the Internet? Long afternoons loitering outdoors, indoors, and over extended meals, when it felt like there was just more time available. Three siblings from South Africa were looking to re-create that feeling when they opened Nelson the Seagull, in Gastown, Vancouver. “We wanted to make a space where every meal feels like a lazy summer day spent with friends, leisurely snacking on simple but delicious food,” owner Jodie Balfour says.

Jodie and his brother and sister, Jonathan and Lee, serve up organic food, freshly baked bread, and coffee. Their coffee credo is, “No destroyed decaf coffee,” and their name references Dawn & Des Lindbergh’s 1971 cover of Peter E. Bennett’s song “The Seagull’s Name Was Nelson,” written during Nelson Mandela’s 27 years in prison and a reminder of their home country. Another reason to take time out of your day? Instructor Ally Mazerolle teaches yoga at Nelson on Monday and Wednesday evenings followed by an organic meal, all for CA $25 (approximately $23).

Above: Nelson the Seagull is located at 315 Carrall Street, in Vancouver’s Gastown neighborhood. Photograph via Follow Me Foodie

Above: The Balfours worked with designer Zoí« Pawlak, who preserved the building’s original mosaic floors and filled gaps with buffed and polished cement. Photograph by Natsumi of Sokokashiko

Above: A multidrawer sideboard and a table surrounded by vintage Tolix Marais A Chairs. Photograph via Jess in Vancouver.

Above: South African flora on display in eclectic glass vases: leaves pulled from banksia plants and pincushion protea. Photograph by Natsumi of Sokokashiko

Above: Bunting and the menu board. (See Festive Bunting for 10 options.) Photograph by Natsumi of Sokokashiko.

Above: Nelson the Seagull’s ornithological theme carries over onto the coffee cups. Photograph by Natsumi of Sokokashiko.

Above: Behind the counter, a wall featuring Nelson Mandela as a young boxer. Photograph by Mia Hansen.

Above: Natural light is supplemented by amber pendant lights. Photograph by Mia Hansen.

Above: Dried thistle branches. Photograph via Smoky Sweet.

Above: The cafe is, in the Balfours’ words, “about sun-stained afternoons and the best espresso we can pull.” Photograph via Singularis.

Above: A hearty loaf of bread made for a pop-up supper with Pick & Sprout. Photograph via Scout Magazine in Canada.

Above: Lounge sofas and a rough palette table on wheels. Photograph by Vincent Lee for designer Zoí« Pawlak.

The cafe is in Vancouver’s Gastown. For more, visit Nelson the Seagull and read about the cafe in Scout Magazine

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For three other Vancouver restaurant finds, see Marche St. George, Bestie Currywurst, and Bao Bei Brasserie. And between meals, browse at the Old Faithful Shop.