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.
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