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Category: British

Elephant & Castle Pub and Restaurant

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Our destination was chosen for happy hour and it’s British pub cuisine. Although, had I known that one of my guests would be travelling to England in the next few days, I wouldn’t have suggested this place. We both knew the meal he would have today would be nothing compare to the authenticity of his place of birth.

None the less here we were. Located within the marine building, it is hard to miss. The marine building its aptly name for its nautical themed design. An archway with a gilded mantle above stone and cement greeted you. It presented the scene of a multi sailed ship heading sailing towards you. It is flanked by rays of sun, and framed by a flock of seagulls flying in opposite directions. Similarly, the boarder of the doors were set in matted gold and etched with sea life. A seahorse, turtle, large shelled clam, a dolphin mid jump, manta ray, five pointed starfish, snail, and a lobster. It was one of those entrances that made you feel small, and had you work to get through. Single filed we took a whirl in the turn style doorway, pushing our way through.

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On the other side, a great hall opened up before us. The first thing you see is the glass mosaic crowning the ceiling, a pointed rising sun emerging from jagged blue waves. Your eyes were lead to its direction by way of the textured ceiling, carved in detailed patterns. To your right and left were several stone archways set above the entrances to elevators, spaces for sitting, and several isle ways. In the centre of it all, the floor was patterned in mosaic title. A wheel representing the creatures of the twelve zodiac signs.

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We instead took a sharp left, entering the pub through its back door. We could have easily taken the main entrance outside, with hostess to greet us; but the lure of the marine building’s entrance was just too elaborate to miss.

This is the newest reincarnation of the “Elephant & Castle” pub. It was telling with fresh coat of paint and perfectly waxed floors. Although the furniture gave back some of its historic, old timey feel. Studded chairs, beveled mirrors, tartan carpet over red brick titles, mesh lamps, and stain glass chandeliers.

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The red and white bar with honey comb print was topped by a dark wood counter. The counter was cushioned by a foam and leather wrapped edging. This unique feature kept linger elbows comfortable, as heads tilted up to watch sporting matches on flat screens. The white elephants busts, that hung on the bar’s wall helped to connect the place to its name.

With two floors, larger tables, and a few nooks, this large space was perfect for the after work rush and the Friday night crowd. And now with happy hour in affect, the suits from the neighbouring office buildings came in waves.

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We were 15 minutes early for happy hour at 3pm, and were unable to order any of the drinks specials. We pleaded with our sever insisting that we will be here within that 3-5pm time frame and that we would have more than one drink, so wanted to get a head start. However, she was firm, if we wanted $5 beers and wine we would have to wait. So instead of sipping water patiently we decided to leave. None of the staff asked us why, nor did any of them stop us, to try to reason with us. 15 minutes later we did come back, although that could have been a service of three entrees and drinks in multiples of threes, that the bar missed out on.

When we came back we were seated at the same table by the same window, that we were originally given. Our British guest was happy with the arrangement, he simply wanted any seat that allowed him to watch the football match (soccer).

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He was most impressed by the breakfast menu that included the option of English muffins and traditional fresh toast, printed against a blue and red Union Jack. The back of the menu was pub classics like wings and nachos, fried finger foods, snacks with dips, several poutine options, and soups paired with salads. A few of the burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and causal favourite intrigued me with their unique twists on classic bar cuisine. An applewood smoked salmon club, a lamb burger with tzaziki and a balsamic arugula mix, Caribbean spiced chicken, blue cheese paired with bacon, and a butter chicken entree with naan. More inline with their British theme, they also had scratch made yorkies and shepard’s pie. If I didn’t come in wanting English cuisine, it would have been hard for me to choose from all the great entrees and sides.

I was under the impression that we were here for British fare, so was disappointed when one vegetarian of the group ordered the veggie burger. However, I was able to convince the other to get fish and chips instead.

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“The veggie” was a house made vegetarian patty topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle. Seasoned in a Guinness BBQ sauce and finished with cheddar cheese. The patty was chewy, and not gritty or chunky like other vegetable based patties. It was light and flavourful enough when coated with the tangy and salty barbecue sauce. Although the side of crispy potato fries were better than the burger.

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The “Fish and chips” were crispy haddock, lightly beer battered, and served with their signature tartar sauce. Given the price we expected a couple pieces of fish. Although the one we did get was done right. It was flaky and light, cooked well. Although it was bland without the tartar sauce that set it apart. This wasn’t your regular tangy mayonnaise based sauce, this one had something extra to it to give it an additional kick.

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I went truly authentic with “Bangers and mash”. This was Guinness beer grilled bangers (sausages) with garlic mashed potatoes, and a rich beef gravy. This was one of the most comforting meals I have ever had. Something so simple with such a great presentation. I was impressed by the criss crossing links of meat and the sprig of Rosemary. Hearty and rich, there was nothing I didn’t like on the plate. The perfect ratio of potato to meat. The great smokey char that sealed in the juices of the sausage, paired well with the pool of buttery smooth gravy that it sat in. This was a very balanced dish. Mouthful after mouthful, this was a taste I did not grow tired of from first to last.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Not the first place I would go to for British fare, but it was a nice pub with a diverse menu to please all cravings and palettes. It was also relocated to a nice area, that gave us a great walk to and from it. Though, shame they didn’t have a patio to enjoy the view of the city and water from. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ELEPHANT & CASTLE
385 Burrard Street, Vancouver BC
604-696-6730
elephantcastle.com
Elephant & Castle Pub and Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cockney Kings Fish & Chips

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What happens when you are served spoiled food?

 

When my guest was younger, this was his after school stop, so we decided to reminisce and come here for lunch today. This family restaurant was dressed like a pub with its red brick exterior, black roof, and individual lamps spot lighting their sign written in Old English font. It was definitely handsome in comparison to its more worn interior.

Inside, the room was rowdy with young families, youths, extended families, and seniors out for an early dinner. It was basking in a yellow glow, from the still ceiling fans and decorative lighting fixtures that looked like they belonged on the set TV’s “Cheers”. On the left wall were photos in black and white, captures of sporting teams and military uniforms. On adjacent shelves stood various vintage knick knacks. A copper ships, a classic radio, a miniature red phone booth, the Union Jack on a Canterbury sign, and a pasta maker (they don’t sell pasta). Similarly out of place was the generic IKEA art, a piece with a wide eyed fish next to a bottle of red. Though I understood its point. All together it set a very casual tone.

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You can see the kitchen and their back of house operations from anywhere you sat. A railed partition separated the room in to two halves. Tables lined it on each side, with more along the walls. Each table came with a plastic bin of condiments. Squeeze bottles of ketchup and tartar sauce, glass bottles with vinegar, and the usual salt and pepper shakers. I liked the idea of having unlimited tartar sauce at my disposal. It was a needed touch, but there was too much cream and not enough pickles for it to be a good tartar sauce. It would have also been nice to have extra napkins easily accessible in these bins. With all the grease and oil, we were constantly wiping our hands and in need of extra napkins.

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As soon as you sit they set the table with a paper placemats and cutlery. Their menu is not only informative, but a good way to keep yourself entertained as you wait to order and for your food to arrive. It taught me that the term “cockney” refers to a person born in a specific area of London, they have adopted their own slang words. These words were scattered around the placemat. “Pig’s ear” refers to “beer”, “sauce pan lids” mean “kids”, “dinky doos” are “shoes”, and using “Shania Twain” meant “pain”. This is just to name a few, all were just as interesting. I would like to know how each slang actually came about.

You order using the paper accordion-folded, take out menus already at the table. It was splotched with the grease of all the fingerprints before ours. The food came fast and similarly to the menu, all the plates were oily to the touch. I guess that is to be expected when 80% of what we had took a dip into the deep fryer.

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We started with buns. Cold buns and frozen cups of butter on warm plates. I had gingerale to drink, given the amount of deep fried foods I was to consume.

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We went with the half order of onion rings for a taste. I didn’t like them with their thick slices. I don’t like biting into a gummy piece of onion. At least they seemed liked they were freshly made and battered, they just needed a dunk in a clean oil vat. They came out with an acrid taste.

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The “Three tacos” came with your choice of fish or shrimp on a soft corn tortilla with cabbage, what-what sauce, and pico de gallo. We went with the fish and found it perfectly crispened to a golden brown, while maintaining a juicy and flaky middle. Their “what-what” sauce tasted like a blend of tartar sauce and taco mix, which was a clever idea given the filling and its packaging. Sadly the stale tortilla took away from this dish being any better. It was grainy and the way the shell easily broke apart, you could tell it sat out of the bag for too long. It could have help with some avocado for creaminess.

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The “Seafood platter dinner” was a good way try a little bit of all they had to offer. It came with two fried oysters, three fried prawns, and your choice of fish. One piece of haddock, cod, or wild salmon. It all came with homemade chips, coleslaw, and rolls for side. These rolls were the ones we had earlier. We added a second, so we each could have our own.

The coleslaw was bland, it had the right creaminess, but none of that mayonnaise tang. Though it still made for a great break from all the greasy elements around it. The fries where pretty standard, your crispy and chewy potato sticks.

We went with the cod as our fish of choice, it was the typical selection. When the fish is that battered and that deep fried, you can’t really taste it much anyways. Plus with the amount of tartar sauce I use, that was all I tastes. The fish was a little oily, and as a result its breaded crust flaked off, but otherwise it was descent.

The prawns were juicy, but oddly had too much fishy prawn flavour to it. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but it just didn’t taste right. It got worse with the oysters. First they didn’t look that great, biting in you could see the meat was a dark black. From the smell and the excess liquid you could tell these were from frozen. Then with a taste you could tell they were spoiled. It was so bad that I had an immediate reaction and spat what I dared to eat out. I then had to ask for new plates and clean cutlery. We ended up telling two different servers our tale, but neither really seemed to be too shocked by our news. Instead they assumed we wanted more and dropped two new oysters into the fryer. After hearing this we instinctively shook our heads in fear saying “no”. Why would I want to take that gamble again? I would be put off of oysters for a while. They did end up taking 10% off the platter, but there was no way for us to know this. The servers were unapologetic, they said nothing about our experience, and when the bill was brought over there was no note on it. The 10% ended up knocking a couple of dollars off, but nothing worth the trauma of biting into a spoiled piece of seafood at a restaurant you should trust.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I think I am scared away from the one and will leave it at that. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

COCKNEY KINGS
Unit 130-66 10th Street, New Westminster BC, V3M 1A6
604-522-6099
cockneykings.ca
Cockney Kings Fish & Chips Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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