So.Cial at Le Magasin

Updated: 29th June 2010; This restaurant had been closed according to Urbanspoon.

We had been receiving emails about a promotion at So.Cial at Le Magasin.  It was all about their $12 Prime Rib Dinner every Sunday.  That sounded so good because I was thinking that it is going to be like the Garlic Studded Prime Rib that Suanne used to make at home.  Since Suanne does not use the oven in summer, there is very little chance I am going to get Prime Ribs at home for the few months.  We thought that at $12, we could not go wrong.


I was on the phone with ET of Doesn’t Tazte Like Chicken and asked if they would like to join us for the Prime Rib dinner.  Suanne and I sort of knew that Christina would say yes because she is a sworn “meatatarian”.

Does anyone know why So.Cial is spelt with a dot?


You know, I had never dined in Gastown before.  As a matter of fact, the last time I walked down this street was … wow … 8 years ago.  This tourist stretch was very quiet that day.  I guess it’s because it was a Sunday evening.  We got seated by the window which give a clear nice view of the street.


The interior was really pleasant.  I love the metallic ceiling and timber pillars.  The restaurant was virtually empty the entire night we were there.  There was only three tables taken at max … and none of them ordered the Prime Rib.  As a matter of fact, most of the customers does look like they were tourists.


We each ordered their house wine — everyone except for Suanne.  It was about $5, I think.


We decided to start off by ordering some tapas.  It was $6 each.  For five, it was at $5 each.  Sounds like quite a discount right?


Salt Pork
Salt Pork




Oh well.  The tapas were nothing to shout about — it was generally tasteless.  It was way too little to share between the four of us anyway.  Imagine splitting each of these four ways so that we all get a taste of each!


Things sort of went down hill.  Despite that there were hardly any customers at all, service was not good … really slow and I felt deliberately ignored.  Bread was given to us with lentil dip … and it has 6 pcs for the four of us. The odd number of pieces was not even the problem, the bread was quite underwhelming … from looks and taste.

I can tell you that we were very civil and at no time aloof.  So, I was kind of puzzled what brought upon such poor service.


If you ask me, I think it was because each of us ordered the same thing — the $12 Prime Rib.  I felt the waiter face turned sour when we did not look at the menu and all we asked for was the Prime Rib.  Regardless what we ordered, I think it was plain “unsmart” for shabby service.

If not for the excellent company of ET and Christina we would have gotten quite crossed.  So the focus that night for Suanne and I was the company, not the dinner.

I was not too impressed with the food …


… we were asked, “how would you like your ribs done?”.  Answer was … medium rare, medium rare, medium rare and medium.  It all came more like well done, well done, well done and well done.  The meat was tough although flavorful.  My piece even had lumps of fats which really make it look unappetizing.

This makes me think of this phrase … Good things not cheap, Cheap things not good.  LOL!


You get the choice of sides … fries or salad.


We had a great time and it was only because ET and Christina was such good friends.  Suanne and I always looked forward to dining out with them.  The good company certainly took our minds off the poor service.

What I felt was unforgivable was that the waiter did NOT even once come by our table to fill our empty glasses even when he walked past with a full jug filling the neighboring tables!  ET and Christina was gracious enough not to bring this up (neither did we) but it was in my mind.

Not filling our glass for 2 1/2 hours is simply something I find it difficult to understand nor accept.  I don’t fault So.Cial and am sure it is not the restaurant’s policy to ignore customers.  I think our waiter had a bad day and we had the brunt of it.

So.Cial at Le Magasin on Urbanspoon

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  1. Sherman

    Ben, those Prime Ribs do not look good at all. Also the tapas looked really small. I was going to try this place, but seeing those pictures, the food doesn’t look appetizing. Also, service is so important when you spend a good deal on money for food. Thanks for the info!

  2. I’ve had it with tapas dining: just charge us a reasonable price for a reasonable serving! Why skimp on the serving just because you’re charging $6 a plate? $6 — or $5 — for a piece of oyster? Two — oops, three — wedges of potatoes with a couple of slivers of pork? It’s quite ridiculous.

  3. ET

    We’re in total agreement with your take on So.Cial Ben – subpar food and subpar service. There’s no point for the restaurant to sell $12 prime rib only to serve the type of food (and service) that we received. Certainly not very win-win from my pov.

    However, we always enjoy your and Suanne’s company – so in spite of the food/service, it was a very enjoyable evening for us!

    1. Christina

      Yeah Ben, I really enjoyed some of our conversation that night! I don’t have as much patience over our server as you thought. Remember I complained to you and Suanne (had to do it quietly for our safety) about his attitude right at the beginning of the dinner?

      Despite everything, I’m still glad that we went out that night 🙂


  4. LotusRapper

    Wow those are micro-tapas ! Regardless of price …. the question is, why bother preparing and serving such small portions ?

    I’m glad you reviewed So.Cial (intended by its proprietors to be pronounced “So Shall”, as in “So, Shall we eat/drink/be merry …….) because I’ve never been and they are (was) on my “to check out” list.

    Sounded like none of you were happy campers aside from keeping each other in good company.

    Better luck next time !

  5. GourmetBride

    I find that Vancouver is getting a bit ridiculous with their tapas style food. Subpar micro mini dishes of food for a premium price. The funny thing is Vancouverites continue to put up with this and bad service. I don’t understand why we allow this to happen and yet we still give these people generous tips. Doesn’t this encourage the bad service even more??? Of course that’s another post. Whew, I think I’ve had too much coffee today =)

    1. LotusRapper

      I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon but I agree !!

      Ever since the tapas fever took off in the late 90s (started with Bin 941 ?) the tapas syndrome just spread like wildfire. Nowawdays it seems to me at least that it’s a great excuse for just about ANY restaurant to offer a selection of tapas (or rather, simply smaller portions of their regular menu items or worse yet, re-branded appetizers that already exist) and use that as a convenient way to increase margins. And it does seem sometimes that price is inversely proportional to the size of the plate, although I judge value on quality not necessarily quantity.

      Bottom line to restaurants: if you’re going to offer customers tapas, please offer genuine creative items not on the regular menu, and not simply downsizing regular entrees or re-spinning appetizers while marking up the prices. Vancouver diners are too smart and discriminating for that.

  6. gastowndweller

    Too bad about So.Cial — they have a sandwich counter in behind the restaurant and used to have these amazingly tasty sandwiches that were a fantastic deal for the quality (meat was all roasted in-house, homemade potato chips, roasted pepper/eggplant spread etc). But we stopped by to pick one up the other day and the prices of the sandwiches had almost doubled–gasp! So, in addition to rip-off tapas, I protest having to fork over $10+ for a humble sandwich, which seems to be common around Vancouver as well. Why?!!

  7. LotusRapper

    I wonder if perhaps So.Cial changed ownership ? Sounds like a fairly drastic change of direction.

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