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Category: Irish

Dubh Linn Gate, revisit

I am not new to “Dubh Lin Gate”, but what is is their head chef. A new cook at the helm and with him came a new menu and another media event to check things out. I had been once before and had enjoyed the food then, so was curious to see how it would play out under new kitchen management. And what I found was consistency and a solid offering that continued to support their strong Irish beer and whiskey program, along with a slew of mixed drinks and beer cocktails.

To read my original visit review of this Irish pub and my description of its decor, visit the link below.

Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub

 

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

Not many places offer it, so when I visit I make sure to take advantage and order one of their beer floats. This is the “Crown float” with Magners Irish cider and Guinness foam. A smooth drink with a creamy finish, exactly as I have had and as I expected it to be.

What I didn’t expect was the server looking down at me for the age brought about by the year on my driver’s licence. The exact words were “you are mooorrrreee than okay”, she was referencing my ability to have a drink. It was here that I finally understood why women get bent out of shape about aging, it is because of ignorant comments not meant to hurt, but end up leaving scars. I licked my wounds and made the best of the meal trying to avoid the young waitress in short plaid skirt and heavy eyeliner, less she find me too irrelevant in age to serve.

Most of what we were served was in house made, from scratch; dishes served family style as shared plates that we all picked off it. And the following is the in order in which we received them.

The “Pulled chicken curry” is one that I wouldn’t necessarily expect on the menu of an Irish pub, but it is one I would order again. A whole roasted chicken pulled and mixed with their house made curry sauce. Topped with almonds and cilantro, and served with toasted naan bread. Not traditional, but a great representation pulling on traditional flavours, and lots of it. The curry was a little much on its own, but great with the naan for base. I would have liked it more with some basmati rice and a spoon, although that becomes something even further from what I would expect and order from a bar.

I wanted rice for the “Mushroom and barely croquettes” as well, as the texture of a risotto would have been more enjoyable, less lumpy and stiff than what we got with the barely. These were Arancini style breaded and deep fried balls served with a ranch dressing. They were tasty with a good crisp. The ranch offered changed for the sake of being different, where a nice mushroom soup-like sauce would have been more complimentary.

My favourite was the “Ham hock Mac n’ cheese”, great at a bar with beer. Two Rivers smoked ham hocks mixed with a house made pale aged cheddar cheese sauce, elbow macaroni and green peas. I love peas in pasta and the toasted bread crumbs that topped this version even more. It also came with two slices of sourdough garlic bread, that would have been nicer as fresh bread, for a more comforting chew to match the tender pasta noodles. As for flavour, the salty ham was the central focus. Whereas I wanted more breadcrumbs for their herbaceous flavour and its crunch.

The “Roasted beet salad Arugula salad” was a mix of red, golden, and candy cane beets; some roasted, some pickled. Tossed with a house made rhubarb dressing, walnuts, poached pears and chèvre. It was a refreshing salad with gently dressed crisp greens, soften cubes of beets, and tangy cheese. I liked the sweetness the pear offered, when you were lucky to get a piece on your fork.

The “Chicken parmi” is another I will go back for, but is only available on Sundays from 3pm to close. This is the Australian version of a chicken Parmesan. Breaded chicken breast, deep fried, and topped with house made tomato sauce and melted cheese. Served over fries with a side salad. There was also ham wrapped around the chicken, it added a good amount of salt to the mix, in addition to the melty cheese.

The “7oz AAA flat iron steak” was the chef’s favourite and the one he would recommend most. Pan seared all natural Alberta beef in a pepper corn sauce, served with sautéed mini Yukon potatoes with cabbage, and bacon; and Brussels sprouts. The flat iron is the tender cut of bee from the cow’s shoulder, it was well cooked and well highlighted with the diversity of balanced sides on the plate. Starchy potatoes, fresh sprouts, and a pickled sauerkraut.

The “Hummus and olives” would make a nice snack to nibble on as you sipped. Although I personally could have use more pop in the hummus, an exciting punch of spice to best be taken with the fluffy naan. But a bite of olive after a mouthful of hummus also sufficed.

The “Fish and chips” were wonderful. A 7oz piece of beer battered, flaky Ocean Wise North Pacific cod. Served on a bed of crispy and chewy French fries, and served with their house made tartar and coleslaw. No complaints, it was a solid classic with a dish of tangy sauce and a nice creamy side to help cut into all the deep fry.

The “Brasserie board” also made a great snacking option to pair with drinks for a lighter meal. It was a selection of domestic and Irish cheeses with enough salty, sweet, and tangy elements to craft your perfect bite. On this plate was a Guinness cheddar, chèvre and rondoux, and “Two Rivers” bresaola and ham hock. House made pickled vegetables, pickled egg, apple mustard, chutney, and beer jelly. Enjoyed with not enough “Swiss Bakery” sourdough. I liked the pickled egg represented on the board, having it as part of a charcuterie was new for me.

The “Tacos de carnitas” were a little watery, light and fresh; whereas I am more partial to the heavy and cheesy flavours of tex-mex taco. This was the kind of grab and go snack that kept you and your belly feeling light, but full. Ancho marinated pork butt braised in house with garlic, onions, and lime. Topped with habanero hot sauce, pineapple salsa, and cabbage. The pineapple slaw offered a nice cooling twist, I just wanted more of it, and a cream overtop for some tang.

The “Cider glazed prawn and grapefruit salad” was a refreshing summer salad. Mixed local lettuce with Magners glazed Ocean Wise prawns. Tossed in a house made mint cilantro and citrus dressing. The topped with pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, avocado, and pickled onion. The size of the shrimp was impressive. They were so succulent that I had to enjoy them on their own to appreciate their full sweetness and juicy chew. The tangy grapefruit and salty cheese gave you bursts for flavour with the mint as a delightful accent.

By comparison the “Ham and cheese toastie” was heavier meal. “Two Rivers” nitrate free ham on “Swiss Bakery” sourdough with aged cheddar, creamy apple spread, and a house made piccalilli relish. It was great to see them sourcing from local businesses. The toast had a nice crunch from a thorough grilling. The sandwich had a mostly salty taste with some zesty mustard that oozed out the edges like cream. I missed the sweetness from the apple spread and wanted the tang from the promised relish that was described above. However, I made do with the bold pickle that made for a great palette cleanser to finish on.

The “Crispy cod tacos” utilized the same fish that was featured in the fish and chips above. Beer battered, Ocean Wise North Pacific cod on corn tortillas with guacamole, chilli lime sauce, cilantro, cabbage, and pickled red onions. I preferred this to the pork tacos. The fish was the star of the dish, citrus focused with a creamy smooth guac; giving it lots of flavour.

For dessert we had a “Flourless chocolate cake” that ate like a ganache. A dense and decadent house made cake, prepared gluten free. Served with a caramel sauce, a raspberry compote, and crushed hazelnuts. I would be a bad judge of this as I am not a fan on chocolate-heavy desserts.

I much preferred the “Pot of cheese cake” baked in a mini mason jar with crumbled up graham cracker cookies, and a sour cherry compote. Everything about this delicious. Good separately, but best all together in the perfect dug in bite. Buttery from the crunchy crumble, light and fluffy with the lemon flavoured cream cheese, and sweet and tart with the fresh berries.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
My original assessment of them still stands. They make a great place for a big group gathering, to watch any game or to celebrate and catch up with friends. They offer a great alternative to all the popular casual chains out there, with a lengthy drink and food menu offering enough variety for something for everyone. They may have changed, but what I like about them remains the same: their good variety of good food. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DUBH LINN GATE
1601 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 2W5
604-449-1464
vancouver.dubhlinngate.com

Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub

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Today I was happy to attend a media preview arranged by fellow and local food blogger, “Pork Ninjas“. I love events like these at pubs like these. As you don’t often think of a bar or a pub for a full meal; so to gain the opportunity to try most of what they have, and have your opinion swayed, is not an opportunity I turn down.

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As a disclaimer, when it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The pub is easily accessible from the Main Street skytrain, for those wanting to drink a little more than they should. However, if you are driving you will have a harder time, they don’t have their own lot and it is slim pickings for street parking with all the neighbouring residential homes. Therefore, many find themselves parking at the adjacent Mcdonalds for a quick cheat solution.

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“Dubh Linn Gate” is a traditional Irish pub with seats across two floors. It has a comfortable friendliness awaiting you past the stain glass windows on its two front doors. Theirs was a warm and cozy setting cultivated by a fire in the hearth, and shelves of knick knacks for that lived in home feel. Bits and bobs like an antique looking cast iron kettle, beer jugs, miniature barrels, cloth books without their dust jackets, silver candlestick holders, brass and tin cups, pewter beer steins, and a violin; amongst so many other things.

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We were given our own little seating area, by the front windows. Our own alcove away from the double floors of the main bar. Where, it was a corridor with the physical pour bar on your left and rows of seating across bar stools, stand up tables, high tops, and black cushion booths to your right. On one end there were more windows, and the other a large screen playing the latest sporting match.

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Reading over the menu, it isn’t surprising that they have a healthy option of Irish beers, domestic ones on tap, and those imported in bottles; as well as a list of creative cocktails, and three pages of single malt scotch, followed by whiskey. But when in an pub you order beer, and when in an Irish pub, you order an Irish beer flight. This one includes Guinness, Murphy’s, Smithwick’s, and Kilkenny on a four hole paddle.

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The “Maple Kale Chicken Salad” was baby kale tossed in their maple and mustard dressing, with chicken that is brined in beer for 24 hours and marinaded with herbs, roasted butternut squash in maple syrup, roasted walnuts, dried cherries, and house made yam chips. There was a healthy amount of everything, well seasoned with flavour from the tangy vinaigrette. The best bites were the ones with the firm, sweet yam and drops of chewy cranberry. Overall, it is a flavour I would revisit.

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The grown in BC “Brussel Sprouts” were my favourite appetizer. Pan fried in butter with bacon and lemon juice, then topped with Dubliner cheese before being broiled. A great way to eat your vegetables without the feeling that you are. “Dubliner” is a robust aged cow’s milk cheese with a similar texture to cheddar, but with a slightly nutty and sweet taste. The sprouts were best enjoyed warm, before the pool of oil they sat in cooled. Each bulb was crispy and cheesy, with plenty of garlic.

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The “Black Pudding Toasties” wasn’t the most attractive looking plate. It is pan fried black pudding (aka blood sausage) that is pitch black in colour, looking like burnt cookies. Served crispy and chewy on a grilled sourdough baguette, accompanied by their house made caramelized onion spread, tobacco onion, and mustard. “Tobacco onions” is a topping the bar has created and coined based on its end resulting texture. Sliced onions are dredged in a flour mixture with cayenne and paprika, then fried. The outcome is crispy fried onions that look like tobacco leaves. The toasties tasted as little less burnt then they look, which was relieved by the mustard dressing. It and the hard to chew through bread didn’t make this the most appealing dish for me. But definitely an interesting first experience though.

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The “Scotch Egg” came oozing with the perfect creamy golden yolk. This is their custom Guinness banger sausage wrapped around a soft boiled egg. Breaded and fried, and served with their piccalilli relish. It had the perfect blend of texture with a mild curry flavour and the freshness of chives.

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The “Steak and Guinness pie” arrived piping hot, steam rising from a golden brown flaky crust. It was served warm and kept warm thanks to the skillet it arrived in. Beef round top slow cooked in a healthy amount of Guinness, for a gooey stew with potatoes and mushroom. The flavour was good, but there could have been more pie filling. I wanted thicker heartier chunks, and maybe some carrots or pies to lighten things. Even some sour cream to mix in to the brown gravy would have helped.

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This is the “Boxty benny”. Instead of using the traditional English muffin for this eggs Benedict, they take a twist on the traditional potato boxy, making it more into a muffin for the base instead. Over it is their house cured steelhead salmon, hollandaise sauce, and capers. Served with a side of salad and potatoes, for a very filling breakfast/brunch. The boxty base was more buttery and starch than what would have been a soft and airy English muffin. A great contrast to the creamy salmon and the luscious hollandaise. The evenly baked potato and a fresh greens with pear on the side was a nice break in between flavourful benny bites.

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Similarly was the “traditional fry up”. A breakfast platter that was as the menu described it, “lots of food on one plate”. House cured peameal bacon, blood pudding, breakfast bangers from “Two Rivers”, baked beans, a grilled Roma tomato, salad with poached pears, two fried eggs, and sourdough from “Swiss bakery”. It had everything you wanted from a solid first meal of the day. The juicy sausage with a mild growing spice, and sweetened bake beans were huge step up from the hot dog and baked bean dinners I grew up with. The egg offered a nice gravy with its runny yolk, and the tomato provided good balance, furthered by the pear and salad to finish off the plate with some freshness. However, the bacon could have been missed. It tasted more like a dried out flattened slab of chicken than by salty, crispy bacon I am use to and prefer.

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The “Main St. Meat Loaf” is made with a combination of pork and beef, seasoned with mirepoix and thyme, and given a fluffier texture with milk soaked bread chunks churned in. The loaf is served over creamy mashed potatoes and mushy peas, sitting in a pool of thick onion gravy. I wasn’t a fans of the loaf’s texture. Despite how firm the meat brick looked, it was mushy, like chewing through soggy fabric. If was also fairly bland, it needed the sauce on top, but there wasn’t enough of it to cover all of the loaf. A dish of it on the side would have been much appreciated, or at least some more salt and pepper to taste. Overall there was too much of one texture on this plate. Everything was too soft: the meat, the whipped potatoes, and the mashed peas; all furthered by the lumpy gravy. Although I did prefer the garlicky sides to the featured meat. I kept craving more crunch, maybe some more crisp tobacco onions, or a handful of those yam chips from the salad to start.

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The “Central Burger” had the addition of pulled pork over their homemade patty, covered in the nutty Dubliner cheese. Between it and two buns are tobacco onions and cucumber pickles, dressed in chipotle mayo and a barbecue sauce. It was a meaty beef patty with the addition of the unique pickles giving it a distinct taste. The garlic mayo on the side offered a nice change of flavour for both the fries and the burger. It was difficult to keep all the ingredients under the bun, which is typically a sign of a good burger.

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For the vegetations they had a veggie burger with their house made patty, consisting of navy beans, chickpeas, mushroom, carrots zucchini, sprouts, tomato, butter lettuce, and toasted spices. It is served on a toasted brioche dressed with chipotle mayo and salsa verde. There was enough vegetables to keep things interesting in texture, and the spicy curry flavour within the patty help differentiate things. It wasn’t my favourite flavour, but a solid option for those without many others off this menu.

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The “Lamb Shank” was slow braised and served over a pearl barley risotto in its own jus. It was cooked tender with a bold freshness from the mint. The risotto offered a nice chewy base, cooked in shallots, white wine, butter, and herbs. However all together, it really was a flavour I didn’t get too excited for. It was bland and could have used crisp green beans or chunks of Roma tomato to give it more of a home cook warmth.

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And for dessert, their “Central Sundae” is one I would go back for. This is a childhood classic, made for adults. Guinness, Baileys, and caramel ice cream all made in house and topped with their in house made caramel and chocolate sauces. Then dressed with a homemade Irish lace cookie, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry to finish it off. I could have used more ice cream and less of the whipped variety. But the crunch of the toffee and nuts was my favourite part. You wouldn’t imagine something this good or this elaborate at a pub. I was delightfully surprised. However, my biggest gripe was its presentation. It looked great, but it was hard to curate the perfect bite (ensuring you get a bit of everything on your spoon) when the glass is so deep and your spoon had to match its length. You really have to dig down for any hope of an even bite. And this sundae was best when you had a bite of everything in your mouth.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great place for a big group gathering, to watch any game or to celebrate and catch up with friends. They offer a great alternative to all the popular casual chains out there. A lengthy drink and food menu offering enough variety for something for everyone. Once again, I wouldn’t think to come here for a meal, so would have missed out if not for this eye opening media event. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DUBH LINN GATE
1601 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 2W5
604-449-1464
vancouver.dubhlinngate.com
Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

St Patrick’s Day at Doolin’s & Belmont Bar

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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th, drinking green beer amongst a rowdy crowd, in an actual Irish pub; has long been on my bucket list. I sought to cross it off this year. Although it wasn’t quite what I conceived and fantasized.

We planned to meet for happy hour, thinking it wouldn’t be too busy this early, and that we could take advantage of cheap food and drink prices. But despite it being a Thursday, it seemed like no one else was working or had classes. The city was out at 3pm. Irish bars already had bouncers, stanchioned lines, and were charging cover. Looking around the Granville entertainment district, other, non Irish bars were busy as well. They too took advantage of the day to sell green beer.

Our first choice had a shorter line with no cover, but they took in more people than capacity. Not everyone was guaranteed a seat, let alone a table. I wanted to eat so we went across the street to Irish option number two.

Already all green throughout the year, “Doolin’s” showed additional patty pride with a bouquet of green and white balloons, door men with green sweatbands and velvet rope. The line was longer here, and the cover shot up from $7-$10, however with a larger space and two floors we were more optimistic of a table. Little did we know, they would be inviting in more patrons than there were tables as well. Groups stood idle in the centre of the room, couples leaned on one another in corners, and majority of the guest were putting up post at the bar.

After two laps around the main floor we took advantage of the back bar and ordered a couple of drinks. But sadly there was no green beer to be had. They teased it on signs and suggested a “real beer” instead. With our regularly coloured beer we stood at wait by the live band. They were playing jaunty Irish jigs and drinking songs. I was envious that others knew the words and that I could not sing along.

The bar was full, heavily seated with bar stools and high tops, corner booths, and plenty of places to lean and huddle against. In the frenzy of finding a space to call our own I didn’t get a chance to soak in any of the decor. All I made note of is how explorative the place is, how all the patrons were able to get up and mingle in their respective claimed spots. Multiple bars and servers in green shirts paired with plaid mini skirts or leather kilts serving from them.

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There we were, standing and waiting for 4pm to hit. There was promise that the lower floor would open up. And that if we were patient we would be able to get a table and seat down there. We assumed the wait would be for the same bar, only to find out that it was their separate sister bar, “The Belmont”.

Our eagerness translated to us being the first ones down. We got to see the live band do a practice set and the serving staff having their pre-shift rally. We choose a booth at the back, with a view of all the high top tables and benches before us. The walls were lit in green lights and decorated with glittery shamrocks, helium filled balloons, and banners wishing drinkers luck.

They had St. Patrick’s Day wearables for those who lacked green or wanted a little more. Mardi Gras beads, blinking shamrock pins, clovers on headbands, and green leis. We helped ourselves to a few, utilizing them in our photo op.

Guinness, the Irish beer brand took advantage of the people’s want for free merch, and the free advertising it provided them. Their reps gave out their own branded novelty wearable. Both miniature and oversized pint shaped hats and green fitted tees with their names on it. I didn’t need one, but like all the others wanted them because their were seasonal, fun, and free.

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Without the tinge of green and dollar store decorations, it was a pretty classy looking bar. Brick columns, cushioned walls, horseshoe shaped booths, and a stage for live music. I have been in on nights where they have performers playing and patrons dancing, and it is quite the space to enjoy both in.

Their bar was most impressive, if I were to come on a normal night, this is where I would like to be seated. Beveled decorative counters, sculpted edges, and leather seats with copper detailing. Behind the shadow of the stone archway this was an impressive historic 1930’s looking bar.

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The entire room quickly filled with bodies, laughter, and plenty of drinking. This must be their “Christmas”, they would not doubt be making a killing tonight in drink sales. My hats went off to the staff and the management. This was a tight ship that they were running. Tables wanting non stop beverages, round after round. All the many bodied moving about, it was no doubt hard to keep track of them all. Not to mention the need to watch out for clumsy drinkers bumping into you and knocking your tray of multiple drinks. I watched our server maneuver around the floor like a performer, she tipped toed and twirled, guiding customers out of her path like the lead in a dance. Their day was just beginning, it would only get busier as the patrons got more boisterous with liquid courage. We left well before that.

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I was still sore about not getting green beer so settled for a pint of Guinness, I guess their branding reminders worked. Especially as I also got some Guinness in my entree.

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The “Guinness beef pie” was a hearty braised chunk with sautéed mushrooms in Guinness stout; under a flaky pastry with a side of seasonal vegetables and garlic mash. It wasn’t so much a pie, but a disc of buttery pastry covering a dish of meat and gravy. It was a little one tone and strong, but helped along by the side of mash potatoes and grilled vegetables. Although I would have preferred the carrot and some corn and peas going straight into the stew just to balance the heavier meat and gravy. Similarly the pastry helped to balance things like a side of toast.

But before we could eat we had to get our hands on some utensils. It was hard to attract anyone’s attention in the crowd of raised hands. So after a few failed gestures, I got up to search for a set or two. I ended up at the bar helping myself to a fork and knife bound by a folded napkin. I tried to ask for the ability to take, but was unable to draw the eyes of anyone behind the bar. They were very content on keeping their heads down, towards their hands instead of up and meeting the faces of anyone. Though since it was super busy, I totally understood, and didn’t expect much or anything otherwise. Once again I was already very impressed by their multitasking and ability to hold composure. And reflecting on it now, I would be even more impressed to see them still as chipper and on the ball at night’s end.

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My guest got the “chicken strips and fries”. House made savoury buttermilk marinaded chicken strips with a side of fries, vegetable sticks, and a honey mustard dip. This one was pretty standard bar fare. Crispy white meat chicken dipped into mustard with a break of chewy potato fries and crispy carrot and celery sticks.

I wanted to stay longer, to be rowdy far into the night. I wanted to drink, dance, and party with like minds. However the stars didn’t align for my plans. I ran into too many people I knew, and instead of reminiscing I decided to run. It’s only fun to get messy when there are no witnesses around to document or remember it. I wouldn’t get that anonymity in this crowd of green and faces I knew. So we left for the night and didn’t engage in any more St. Patrick’s Day festivities. We didn’t feel like waiting in any more lines or paying more cover for a cramped shoulder to shoulder setting.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Irish pubs are a must on this day and what better a one, than one with two floors and plenty of people to drink and be merry with. I would definitely be repeating this again next year. Maybe I will even request the day off work and get in an earlier start, to avoid lines, cover, and a wait. Thus ensuring we get a table, service, and the comfort we wanted in a booth. Until next year, don’t deny your cravings on St. Patrick’s Day!

 

DOOLINS IRISH PUB
654 Nelson Street, Vancouver BC
604-605-4343
doolins.ca
Doolin's Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

BELMONT BAR
1006 Granville Street, Vancouver BC
604-605-4340
belmontbar.com
Belmont Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Irish Heather

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When looking for a quick pint at a bar, with no wait to be seated, this one is pretty decent. Having been told there was a wait list and a wait time of over 30 minutes at a few other neighbouring establishments we found ourself here. Though wasn’t my first choice as I remembered that that the food isn’t that great. And sadly I would be reminded of that fact again during this visit.

When looking into their windowed front you can see all the empty seats. We walked in, helping ourselves to one closer towards the back. We sat a booth away from the live band performing folk songs and across from the showcase of Guinness memorabilia. It was a three shelf wide display featuring Guinness logo-ed signs, old Guinness bottles, green and brown bumper stickers, and other collectables they no longer manufactured. It was all very nostalgic. And as with my first visit, I was still enamoured by it and still was curious to know how much it all went for.

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I still appreciated the cleanliness of the place. It was well lit and well displayed, varying from the more common dark and dank bar scene. The decor was fairly modern. The pub lead in with their handsome bar, followed by red brick walls, hardwood floors, and a cozy fireplace. The bar was well stocked, glass bottles on dark wood stained shelves, and a lone man tending to them all. Above the fireplace stood ceramic soldiers in blue and red, they were on guard in pose. On the brick wall hung large canvas paintings of patrons similarly enjoying themselves at a similar bar. It looked to be painted in a wide fish eye lens perspective.

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My vegetarian guest was interested in trying their vegan take on poutine. It came with smoked tofu, onion gravy, scallions, peas, and kale. As a lover of junk food it looked a little too healthy for me. Too much green in what was intended to be a brown and yellow calorie laden Canadian classic. Therefore I cannot be a good judge of his one. I missed the cheese. I didn’t like the textural pairing of crumbly tofu, gritty peas, and wilted greens in a heavy gravy with starchy potatoes. Though my guest who ordered it found it decent and ended up polishing the bowl.

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The vegan “ultimate grilled cheese sandwich” was one that I shared with my other vegetarian guest, though it wasn’t any more exciting. They simply took a classic grilled cheese sandwich and to it added more cheese and some mushrooms. Aged cheddar, Brie, harvarti cheese, and a local mushroom ragout. It was good, but nothing deserving the title of “ultimate”, nothing felt like it was taken to the next level. The earthy mushrooms dominated and all the grease of the cheese pooled. It would have been nice to accompany this with some tomato soup, to break up the heavy taste a little.

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Though we choose the salad over the only other choice of fries as our side, and sadly were disappointed by it. It was more like a creamy coleslaw, but without the expected tang of mayonnaise and the thick creaminess that you want. Quinoa, chickpeas, red cabbage, and lettuce. It felt like work getting through it. It was healthy and looked it, and therefore wasn’t much fun to eat with decant cheese on white bread.

 

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 only came back because my guests wanted to. Next time I am in this position again I will stress going somewhere else. The drinks are great and the setting enjoyable, but drinking is best while grazing and the food just didn’t measure up. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

IRISH HEATHER
208 Carrall Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2J2
604-688-9779
irishheather.com
The Irish Heather Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mahony and Sons

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Our destination today has been noted as one the of city’s best patios, not necessarily for the setting, but the view that accompanied it. With the sun out and happy hour upon us we were delighted that there was no wait to be seated.

We walked into the bar, only to exit out on to the patio. Majority of it is covered by the awning of the Vancouver Convention Centre. The area as a whole now includes many food options and tourist attractions. Given its location it made sense. A booming area with bodies scattered around.

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The patio snakes down the length of the restaurant. The tables are thoughtfully set up to face the scenery. Our seats were not right against the glass panes and metal post barrier, but we still got a good look at the waters of Coal Harbour crowning Canada Place. You just had to do so, past a bunch of heads, avoiding their eye line, playing it off that you weren’t looking at them. Shade is offered by inverted patio umbrellas. I thought they looked odd, but they served their purpose well. Because, although I appreciate having the sun on me and dining outdoors, I cannot enjoy a meal that I am forced to sweat into.

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The menu was your standard bar fare. Not being able to commit to anything that we really wanted, we went for their “Mahony Platter” to be able to try a little bit of everything. Calamari, dry ribs, Pablo chicken tenders, fresh cooked potato chips, garlic Parmesan toast, and spicy cayenne chicken wings.

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The honey mustard dipping sauce was best coating the chicken tenders. The batter on the chicken was crispy on the outside and slight dry on the inside. The sauced definitely helped with this.

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The tzatziki paired with the calamari, and both were disappointing. Not enough dill in the dip and not enough spice with the squid. Though they looked good and had the minimum required crunch with the splotchy batter.

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The spicy mayo was the wild card. Best used for anything that needed an extra kick. Like the potato chips, that weren’t evenly cooked. Certain chips were soggy, others were spotty with only the edge being crunchy. They seemed to have trouble with delivering consistency.

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Similarly the cheese bread lacked flavour, but sadly it was the best thing on the plate. Ironically it could have used more cheese.

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The hot wings were messy from the watery sauce. The flavour decent from the cayenne, but it lacked any juiciness that you’d expect from a good wing.

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The dry ribs were the worst. There was not much meat on these bones and what was present, was all dry. Attempting to eat it was like sucking ob block of salt. The flavour was just salty, just like soya sauce.

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Upon reflection, the frozen drinks we got may not have been the best pairing for the salty snacks above. Piña colada, rum pineapple, and coconut. Strawberry lemonade, vodka, strawberry, and lemonade.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I was tempted to complain about the ribs, and everything else in hindsight. They were the reason I tipped less and contemplated on not tipping at all. That and our inattentive server. Our glasses of water had lip marks on them, and it was impossible to flag a body down for help. Even getting the bill and requesting to pay with a card was no different. And sadly it was not even that busy, there were plenty of seats left on the patio and many more inside. And even though it was happy hour, between 2-6pm, they had no specials to solicit additional business. Sadly I don’t think I will be return here, view or not. Not even to enjoy the waters of Coal Harbour and the sails of Canada Place. Aside from it and the waitresses wearing short plaid and pleated skirts, there was nothing special about the place in my opinion. But don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MAHONY AND SONS
1055 Canada Place, Unit #36, Vancouver BC, V6C 0C3
604-647-7513
mahonyandsons.com
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St. James’s Well

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I am often found at “White Pine Beach” during the hotter summer season. And when looking for lunch before or dinner after I find this little plaza in Port Moody offers in all. Today we were visiting the “St. James’s Well pub” for an early dinner.

Happy hour was in full swing. The patio out front was fully seated, and with the sun out, couples were taking full advantage of the unobstructed heat. Inside, many male patrons stood with a glass in hand, bodies huddled around the bar. They were loudly chuckling, casting their eyes on the broadcasted golf tournament above.

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The interior looks and feel like an Irish pub, greens and browns, and everything else you would expect. I have never been to Ireland, but this is what I would imagine a pub in Ireland to look like. It was rustic like a well worn study. A solid stone fireplace towards the back, dark exposed wood all around, and worn-in wooden floor boards beneath. It all felt used and very much lived in. In contrast, the ceiling was painted in bold colours: a deep emerald green and a very berry maroon. The stain glass windows that also functioned as pub signs, added pops of colour, especially as it caught the sun and light streamed in.
In a cabinet there were steins, mugs, and frayed book tomes on display.

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From the rafters hung brass and copper buckets, brown jugs, woven baskets, and rusted pots. On narrow shelves and across the walls there stood and hung various dusty knick knacks. Antique looking metal containers, an old timey telephone, a violin with its bow, and a banjo with all its strings. Photos of old drink ads and black and white stills finished off the scene. The only thing that seemed out of place were the pop songs playing overhead. It was a surprising mix that included Taylor Swift a few times. Surprising, considering the patrons in now were all older men by themselves. I feel the music was more for the younger waitresses dressed in their club attire. It was all very much a neighbourhood bar scene and atmosphere. Attractive women of various shapes and sizes, serving older men who knew them by their names and took the time to catch them up on their lives. Everyone knew everyone and here we were sitting in a corner waiting to be acknowledged.

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We came 15 minutes to 6pm, and was hoping to catch their “h-appy” hour food menu. However the delay between being seated and finally getting service 15 minutes became 3. And by that time I was too sheepish to ask, nor did our serve mention it to us. The menu was your standard pub fare with plenty of Irish influences, we made sure to take advantage of that fact. We also figured that with the restaurant being closer to water, and with a fresh seafood store two doors down, their seafood entrees and appetizers must be good.

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We started with the “Stuffed Yorkies”, $1.75 each, with a minimum order of two. These were their homemade Yorkshire puddings stuffed with hopcott’s roast beef, horseradish, and mayonnaise; served with a side of gravy. This is the traditional way to have them and the way we enjoyed them, but you can also try the Yorkies stuffed with shepard’s pie filling instead. I found the crispy and buttery pastry the best part. These nests were like tiny beef dips. They were filled with smooth sheets of tender beef, perfect for dipping into a communal bowl of homemade gravy. You could taste that the gravy was scratch made using beef drippings. We had plenty of gravy left over, so our server suggested we save it to use in conjunction with the rest of our meal, good idea.

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“Guinness, crab and asparagus soup”. A creamy blend of Guinness stout, crab, potatoes, asparagus, and Parmesan cheese. Different than what I was expecting, though I don’t know what I was expecting. Glad I didn’t get the large sized bowl, but this cup-sized portion instead. The bland colour wasn’t very appetizing. The soup was more like a chowder, heavy, chunky, and creamy past the lumps. It definitely got better as you went, when you grew accustomed to its unique taste. A spoonful was the best when you got crab in the scoop. Whereas the asparagus was a little too chewy and very much wilted. A soup like this would be best paired with a hearty sandwich or a savoury meat pie.

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The “Cheesy crab and chive dip” was my favourite. Baked fresh to order the menu warns it takes 15 minutes to make. It is worth the wait. Gluten free, it is a blend of cheeses, fresh local chives, and crab. You scoop it up using multicoloured tortilla chips. Though the dip was so thick that the chips buckled and broken under its gooey weight. I rathered scoop spoonfuls into my mouth anyways. This appetizer was very pub friendly, easy to eat, and best to share. Even when the dip cooled down it still had me licking my fingers clean.

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The “Chicken pot pie” was ethically sourced from Abbotsford, it is slow cooked with fresh veggies and filled into a puff pastry with shredded chicken breast. We wished they listed the vegetables that would be included on the menu, and shame we didn’t think to ask, as my guest doesn’t like mushrooms, and therefore forced to eat around them. Though the pies were probably preassembled before dinner service. However, from the steam that bellowed out upon first cut, you could tell these pies were baked to order. This was a home style, hearty and creamy pie. It wasn’t too salty, the stewed veggies sat in a nice smooth gravy. You could tastes the real roasted chicken, and the thick sheet of fluffy golden brown pastry gave each bite a little crunch. The serving included a fresh green salad with edible flowers on the side. This was the first time I have seen or heard a pub using such pretty elements. Outside of the real flowers, it was your adverse salad that included various leafs of lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, and red peppers.

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The “Un-paralleled fish and chips using only fresh Oceanside BC cod” advertised “Ultra crisp thin batter”, west coast slaw, and in house made tartar sauce. Sadly the batter wasn’t “ultra crisp” like the menu promised. Instead it was oily and we found it peeling of the fish. And because the piece of fish sat over the fries for too long, the fries too became soggy from too much oil. Nothing a more thorough blotting couldn’t remedy. The fish was as bland as it was unfortunately dry. We wanted it more flaky and moist. But sadly there was not enough dill or zig in the tartar sauce to save the dish. As a result of an unsatisfactory fish, we skipped on the fish burger we were going to get to go, the “Un-paralleled cod burger”, like the fish and chips above, but in burger form with fries on the side.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The food wasn’t perfect, but for pub food it was pretty darn good, and I expect it would be only better after several beers in. They kept the pub roots in their cuisine, but added extras for the clientele, given the nicer area. Additional seasonings, homemade touches, and flowers in side salads. I would have thought the prices would be higher given the neighbourhood, but they were standard and fair. Good price for lots of food. The setting was cozy, they would be a great stop on a rainy winters day. Imagine pie, beer, and soup by their fireplace. A great option to unwind at after work. Though not necessarily for those who live further away, it is quite the drive from my home in Burnaby. The travel time takes too long for more frequent visits, but with the skytrain transfer point being built nearby, I wouldn’t be surprise to see more traffic come through next summer. I hear they also have live band nights. But be warned, if you are making a trip down, stop by earlier in the evening. Because of their location and the residential area surrounding, they do close up earlier. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ST. JAMES WELL
248 Newport Drive, Port Moody BC
604-461-0800
stjameswell.com
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Ceilis Modern Pub

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We were here tonight for a group get together over 30 members strong. A group with guests coming and going at all times, all to celebrate a friend leaving and wish her a farewell. I was one of the last to arrive, able to find free parking just half a block away. With two entrances you are able to walk right in and discover your party yourself.

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I was impressed at their ability to accommodate this gathering between three awkwardly spaced tables. We were given a corner all our own. Shaped in a “U” pattern, this gave the most surface area available for seating. Though even with armed chairs pushed up close and up against one another side by side it was still a tight fit. With the on going World Cup, the television reflected its action and the walls were draped with flags in its honour. The rest of the empty wall space was decorated with sports pictures, local team memorabilia, and the occasional Irish note. “Kilts optional, Craic required”. “Come back for the craic”. Makes sense, “Craic” is Irish speak for a good time. And what other group loves a good time in a pub more?

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For even more seclusion a specialty room could be reserved for a smaller group of ten or so, across two adjacent tables. This space more fancy, almost chic compared to the rest of this homey bar. The room was wallpapered in a patterned red with an equally ornate carpeting. Portraits in black and white photographed singers and musicians. I was only able to identify Bono from U2 with his trademark straw-like cowboy hat and wide lens sunglasses. The others I guessed performed as they held their tool of trade in hand, in picture. Today this room was reserved and signed for the “cougars”. Shame I left early and missed seeing this group.

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Most of the staff working were female servers dressed in uniforms. A black pub branded tee sponsored by Alexander Keith’s and a short green plaid mini skirt. As far as uniforms go this was pretty flattering and cute. Our server in particular was pretty great. Skilled enough to serve a group this size, and patient enough to not get frustrated by our constant seat hopping. She even went over and beyond, climbing on a bar stool to help us snap four perfect group photos. And when it came to the menu she was extremely knowledgeable. A self proclaimed picky eater she was not shy to admit it. She gave strong recommendations of her favourites. So genuine and so compelling I took her suggestion of a salad. A salad from the seasonal “summer BBQ features” portion of the menu. This she was currently addicted to and has been inhaling in for days on end. I was going out on a limb here. As a practice I don’t order salad, finding most just the bringing together of ingredients that I too could do myself. Whereas when I dine out I rather get what I cannot make myself. And not only did she get me to order a salad, but she got me to order a salad at a pub. Two of my usual no no’s. There are some things I don’t like ordering, some specifically dependent on where I am eating, this is such an item. I need to mention here that she did not disappoint, nor did her suggestion, and neither did the salad.

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“Seared Thai tuna salad”. Rare tuna seared with greens, cucumber, crispy noodles, cashews, and roasted red peppers dressed with a spicy soy lime dressing. Sweet, salty, tangy, crunchy, and zesty this salad had everything. So much flavour from its variety of dry and fresh ingredients, that depending on what mix you got with each stab of your fork, it changed with each bite. The tuna was perfectly cooked with enough slices to have an even fish to salad ratio, giving me fish in each mouthful. The crispy noodles gave things a good crunch, because I hate a soggy salad. The dressing with the red peppers created a nice light sweetness. I would definitely eat this again, but wouldn’t necessarily want to pay for it again.

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Thinking a caesar is always a safe bet I ended up ordering the worst I have ever had. Despite its barely there spiced rim it still lacked flavour. It was watery, tasting like the bottom of the glass when all the ice has melted and you are left with water and a sip’s worth of tomato juice.

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“Mac and Cheese sticks”. Made in house these pasta filled sticks are fried to a crisp. Evenly coated it meant each bite had batter that kept the noodles tender and the cheese they were held together with gooey. It’s true taste came from the spicy sriracha ketchup it was served with.

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“Honey Garlic wings”. Pretty standard pub fare. These were over cooked and their lack of meat on bone made them dry and hard. Luckily the order was honey garlic and the sticky sauce did wonders in coating each wing with some sort of moisture. The other choices for wings included hot, ghost pepper, honey hot, Jamaican jerk, fresh ground salt and pepper, barbecue, garlic Parmesan, hot Thai, and spicy peanut. A list larger than other pubs.

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“Crispy fish sandwich” made with two fillets of beer battered haddock, a Creole tartar sauce, a spicy pickle relish, raw red onions, and a mustard slaw; all in between a Portuguese bun. Accompanied by your choice of house salad, tomato basil soup or what my guest selected, hand cut Kennebec fries with ketchup. Just good, nothing more.

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“California Flatbread” made with both fresh and sundried tomatoes, amber ale cheddar cheese, fresh avocado slices and a very aromatic basil. Simply put this was like a Margarita pizza but with avocado. Light and fresh it made for a great snack, but pretty boring.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The food was some of the better I have had at a bar. Not the best Irish bar, but certainly not the worst. Slightly above average, with the waitresses in school girl-like uniforms being the most memorable thing about them. And seeing as their downtown location is closing (or has closed, depending on when you read this), this is their next nearest location, in Kits. With a patio out front and ample parking nearby it already has its downtown sister location beat. Here they are able to accommodate a large party with enough seating and distance for smaller gatherings to be shielded from the noise and rowdy nature of a mob. And here we weren’t automatically charged a set gratuity penalty for having a party consisting of more than six. This was the first I have seen of its kind. As a solid place to grab a meal and a drink after work, or to socialize with friends in a sports friendly environment, don’t deny your cravings.

CEILIS
1774 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6J4T3
604-732-0010
ceilis.com
Ceili's Modern Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

The Irish Heather

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Looking for the perfect after lunch spot, and not willing to walk too far, our journey ended at the “Irish Heather”. We were lured in after taking a quick peak through their front window. The decor was modern, warehouse grittiness with a luxurious feel. This is what I would consider a hole in the wall pub. The lead in was a handsome bar, red brick walls, hardwood floors, a wintery dressed fireplace with matching tinsel and tree, shelves stocked full with bottles, and large canvas paintings of patrons enjoying themselves at a similar bar. I was enamoured with the showcase of Guinness memorabilia. A three shelf wide display with signs, old bottles, bumper stickers, and other collectables. I wonder how much all that went for.

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Seating was available on metal high chairs by the bar up front, or at smaller tables further back. Narrow tables and the grey booths behind them were combined if the need to accommodate larger parties arose. We eyed the secluded table in its own alcove. It came with a spot light over head, but it sat two and we were a party of three. Instead, we took the booth adjacent to the hall of washroom stalls. This hall was a row of doors. Each door was identified as being either for men or woman. And under this print was a quote associated with the gender. Something to read while you waited your turn.

Friday afternoon at 3pm the crowd was already rowdy, though this was certainly the place to do it at. The generous spacing in between tables, allowed private conversation to stay intimate at louder volumes. The staff were patience with no emphasis was placed on rushing anyone through. This is the type of place where nursing your drink is a common sight. Though with a full list of beverages, I wouldn’t see why one would stick to one glass or one pint. Draught, wine, bottles, and mixed beer; something for everyone. And for those looking to have food with their alcohol, a limited food menu is available. Sandwiches, chips, and other classic bar fare. Not much of it was Irish specific, but everything that was familiar to the bar scene came with a renewing twist. Curry powder in your fries, chipotle in your fish and chips dip, chicken salad made with vermicelli noodles, and a pot pie filled with steak and ale. Though even with all this, I found it weird to see Thai and curry on an Irish menu, especially when there was only one bangers and mash dish and no Irish stew.

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The idea of a mixed beer drink was intriguing enough to warrant a try. I asked for our server’s recommendation, wanting a sweeter beer cocktail. He strongly suggested the “Snake bite”. The menu promised a tasty mix of 3/4 lager and 1/4 cider, boasting that it was allegedly temporarily banned in the United Kingdom. The sweetness of the cider cuts into the bitter beer, allowing its apple-like flavour to really comes through. This was drinking beer and having no after taste. An enjoyable mild mix that I could have had multiple refills of.

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“Driftwood fat tug”

Interestingly, “Steamwhistle” was recommend when we asked for something similar to Budweiser.

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Wanting to add a little salty snack to our mild beer drinking. We shared a platter of their “Grilled flat breads and dips”. It came with dips of hummus, raita, and a sun dried olive tapenade. I was disappointed on the realization that these were just pre made elements assembled on to a dish. Cold dips and hot pita, as always there was too much of one, and not enough of another. Mid way through we realized that we were never given any olives. Apparently they ran out of the olive tapenade, and instead of informing us, we were just given a double portion of hummus. When asked, our server said the chefs don’t tell him anything. I guess he didn’t look at the plate? Or worse, they hoped we just wouldn’t notice. Though our server’s solution was impressive. In lieu of the olive tapenade he presented us with a bowl of chilled mixed olives. We were delighted and gladly accepted the consideration.

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Would I come back? – Yes and no.

The place was clean, modern, and cozy. It made for a decent spot to drink and talk at. I had a good time and my beer cocktail was both original and delicious. Though as much as I wanted to try the five others available, I would not go out of my way to make this my next drinking destination. Nor to make it a recommendation. Though now thinking back to the combination of champagne and Guinness, my interest is slightly renewed. Given the opportunity, I would return for more after dinner drinks, however would not come back for a full meal, based on the lack lustre appetizer we shared. Don’t deny your cravings.


IRISH HEATHER
208 Carrall Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2J2
604-688-9779
irishheather.com
Irish Heather on Urbanspoon

Doolin’s Irish Pub

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After an earlier hockey game where does one go? Why, to a pub to continue the drinking of course! With beers from bottles and more from taps, all at half the cost at GM place.

Sunday evening proved to be a slower night at “Doolin’s”. We were able to walk in with out a wait, and immediately spot ample seating across high tops and on bar stools. As per bar custom, you seat yourself and hope to be noticed enough to gain a menu. We chose two seats by the bar to ensure quicker delivery of beverages. This had all the typical bar trappings: Dim lighting from flickering bulbs. Large television screens mounted at every direction, each broadcasting a variety of sporting competitions. Behind the actual bar, stood handsome shelves lined with hard liquors in the back and taps of craft brews out front. And patrons varying from those dressed to get notice in sparkles to those looking to hide in the dark with their caps pulled forward.

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My guest and I were two girls looking for bottomless drinking and craving deep fried and greasy bar food. Cheap and easy, (the food, not us) the kind you get into with your hands and wash down with frosty chilled beers.

IMG_4389The menu was two pages of your classic bar favourites and everything else you would expect: crispy fries, sloppy burgers, heavy sandwiches, and the occasional steak. This was on top of their variety of fusions like chicken souvlaki wraps, tandoori chicken flat breads, and ahi tuna won ton tacos. Worth noting is this list included this month’s specials of Vietnamese salad rolls and jerk chicken. I appreciate bars for taking the most popular for all types of cuisine and gathering them on one menu. A great way to satisfy any one’s drunken cravings. And of course an Irish bar needs Irish stew, Guinness beef pie, and Irish nachos made with potato chips instead of tortilla. Recalling all this I am longing for a return meal. We were sad to hear there were no options for pitchers, so settled on two pints of Canadian to start.

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We chose the appy platter with all our bar time favourites. The menu listed a full order of dry ribs, wings, and cheese sticks, served with edamame beans and vegetables sticks. Not looking for anything green or healthy we asked to replace our vegetables with another appetizer, chorizo sausages. We were declined our request, but offered and given breaded chicken strips as a suitable substitute.
“Salt & Pepper Dry Ribs”, crispy dry pork ribs, tossed with fresh sea salt, and cracked black pepper. “Wings” in honey garlic. “Cheese sticks” made in house with harvarti cheese. Deep fried until crispy and golden brown, then covered with padano Parmesan cheese, and servers with marinara sauce. “Chickens strips”, house made savoury buttermilk marinated chicken breast strips served with a honey mustard dip.
This truly was that real salty, greasy, cheesy, and saucy pub food that parallels perfectly with beer. The kind that and goes down easy and stays down to keep you full and far from queazy. Though given as this was still a bar, I wasn’t expecting a stellar meal. So was mindful, but unconcern over the ribs being too dry, the chicken wings being tasteless, and the fact that the chicken strips were oily to the touch. I dipped pieces into a dipping sauces provide on the side, added salt where needed, and finished eating my dinner with a fork. And of course the second and third beers that came after helped.

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Being even more intoxicated and still peckish, a wanted to end with a sweet taste in my mouth. We shared an order of “Sticky toffee pudding”. This was a moist chocolate cake, baked with chopped dates, topped with a buttery caramel sauce, and severed along side a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The ice cream melted and became a creamy sauce, a light accent perfect for complimenting the density of this rich cake. This wasn’t the best dessert, but I couldn’t ask for more. Think this is the first time I have actually had dessert at a bar.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
The location was easy to get to, just off the Granville entertainment strip. If you love pub food as much as me this place is for you. I suggest coming in for drinks and decently priced food, before heading downstairs to “The Cellar”, their basement night club, with an accurate name. I liked the atmosphere, the food was decent, the staff did no more and no less than what I needed them to, and the crowd was a good mix of rowdy to quiet. Don’t deny your cravings.

DOOLIN’S
654 Nelson Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2E5
604-605-4343
doolins.ca
Doolin's Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

Blarney Stone, Irish Pub


Stumbling out of a movie at Tinsel Town hungry, we walked downtown for a quick bite and a pint. We travelled past the lone public washroom stall of Hastings; and past the Gastown clock as it blew smoke and chimed for 9pm. We could not find that perfect place to eat. So we ended our journey at the “Blarney Stone”, a classic pub done with a greater emphasis on its Irish tendencies. I have not been back here since Halloween pub crawl 2006. But now was lured in by the prospect of $4 pints of Bud. (Context, it is my BFF’s favourite brand of beer. And I can’t tell you why.)

Walking in on a Wednesday evening we had our pick of the place. We scurried past the bar hosting only lone, older men. But found a need to stop and gawk over, what had to be the largest projector screen I have ever seen. It was pulled down, over the stage and band equipment. On it, the Boston verses Pittsburg playoff game. We did not pay any attention to it, despite taking a seat adjacent. It’s Canucks or nothing. We also considered being brats and choosing to sit in either of the set of recliners in front of the stage. There, we would be facing the hockey viewers and obstructing their view with our eating an drinking. An awkward position for seats. 



The Irish-ness of the “Blarney Stone” was present in the large, back lit Guinness sign; and a tap or two of the darker brew at both the island bar, and the one to the side. Budweiser showed their support for the greens, with their brand name centered in a clover shaped neon sign. What I was most impressed with was, the over head chalk board that spanned as wide as the entire bar. On it was a list of 100 shooters, presented by a red haired leprechaun. Shots with fun names that I would order just to be able to say them out loud. “Dirty hooker”, “Kiss me I’m Irish”, and “Poo Berry”. 


On busier nights the upper deck seating is available; And booths located at the back allows ample bodies to be accommodated. Just the thing for a busy weekend. I can definitely see having a larger group gather under this roof to celebrate an event. Then, the space below the stage can be converted into a dance floor. 



Taking a closer look at the set up of the “Blarney Stone”, as I walked upstairs to “break the seal”; it reminded me of a castle. Stone arches lined the upper balcony. And banners that dawned family crests hung from them. The banners depicted proud lions, sharp swords, and shining crowns. And the purple velvet “Crown Royal” throne sealed the “castle” theory. 

We were impressed with the beers that landed minutes after we had sat down. These Budwisers were true pints, not just a sleeve disguised as one. The steins were heavy, with a thick rim to wrap your lips around. (That came out dirty sounding.) You felt strong and manly gripping it. (That also came out dirty…)

When I choose a pub for dinner, I go in apprehensively. I order one dish at a time and have the first be a guide for the ones to follow. And always I go in with a lowered expectation, one that does not translate from any of my fine dining experiences. 


The “Mac & Cheese Sticks” spoke to us. Macaroni and cheese is an easy win. So when you deep fry them into easy to eat, finger food form; it is a no brain recipe for success. Each bite was a rich with a medley of cheeses: Dublin cheddar, mozzarella, gruyere, and Parmesan. And it broke off into a wonderfully breaded mouthful. 

Sold over how great our first dish was, we went a little more ambitious and ordered the “Lamb bites”. Truthfully, I wanted to see how they represented their Irish inspired dishes. The menu promised a well seasoned and tenderly marinated piece of lamb. What we received was the the complete opposite. The waft of pungent gamey-ness announced the arrival of our next dish. Each bite was a chewy morsel, that kept going. It was tough and an insult to all the other great lamb dishes I have had in the past. We tried to finish our plate, not wanting to let it go to waste. But our server came by to ask us how it was. We honestly expressed to her all of the above negatives. She immediately got her manager. We were a little confused, as we did not ask for anything to come of our truth telling. But were delighted when the manager heard our issues and offered to take the lamb off our bill. He then allowed us to choose something else in its place. I was absolutely surprised over this level of service at a bar. Clearly the”Blarney Stone” has a policy on customer satisfaction; and it was nice to be able to see it enforced first hand. 



As its replacement, we ordered a pound of honey garlic wings. After a 15 minute wait it arrived. And little did we know that the burnt smell coming from the kitchen earlier was our plate approaching the serving window. Just looking at it you could tell exactly how bad this would taste. Ends charred, meat dried, seasonings tasteless, and bites that would stick awkwardly to the back of your teeth. We choose honey garlic in hopes of having a thick and saucy wing to munch on, we were disappointed. We use to think that wings were a safe bet at any pub, but after tonight we have withdrawn this sentiment. This negative experience would have been avoided had the wings been tossed a little. By the taste of things, a brush was quickly taken over each prices with a gentle swash. 
Mid way through our rough gnawing, our server and the floor manager came over to check on our satisfaction, over the replacement order. We lied through our teeth, and through pieces of the dried chicken stuck in them. We didn’t want to cause any more problems, we already had the lamb taken off the bill, and now the chicken wings were on the house. The front of house did the best they could, and the outcome of the food is not under their control, so they are not to blame. Though I strongly suggest a second look at the kitchen staff employed. 

Like the food, pub service is leagues off of anything you would find at any sit down establishment. Here expect lengthy waits; and pretty servers who wander the room with a hardness, acquired from nights spent dealing with drunken customers and advances not wanted. Though with the above in mind I would question the flirting for tips and short plaid, school girl skirts. Our server was cold and stone faced. She would multitask, talking our request then checking in on the table next to us, before proceeding to fulfill our request. As a result two glasses of water made its way to our table 10 minutes after the third request for them was made. 

As a side note, a salad accidentally made its way to our table. Who orders a salad at a bar?What beer partners well with greens? If you are watching what you eat, why dine at a bar? All questions that should not arise at an Irish, meat and potato, and Guinness bar. 

Would I go back? – No. By chance I came back tonight, after 7 years of not even considering it. There was nothing present tonight to ever drive me to return. But I was intrigued at the Irish menu option and considered ordering authentic Irish dishes like their stews and “colcannon”, a Irish staple made with mashed potatoes, kale, cream, and butter. But after the disasters in classic and easy pub fare, I am sure I would be have only been disappointed. Though in the greater scheme of things, if you have enough booze in you everything is and tastes great. Maybe that is the way to go. Drink drunk before you decide on what to order. 
Would I recommend it? No. The tap poured beers common to any pub or casual restaurant along the streets of Gastown. The wings were the worst I have ever had. And it was all below average at best. You would be better off picking up a six pack and a frozen dinner; and heading to your couch instead of a barstool here. 


BLARNEY STONE
216 Carral St, Vancouver BC, V6B 2J1
604-561-7222
blarneystone.ca

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