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Category: pubs Page 1 of 4

Woody’s Pub

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With all the hoopla going on in the American presidential election, it was only a matter of time before more of that came up north, and only a matter of time before someone thought to take advantage of it.

And this is why we came to “Woody’s” today. They had a special menu to help you solidify your candidate choice via burger. Both are basically the same, one was full of baloney and puns, and the other spam and its own saucy play on words. We would soon get a taste of both.

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I only heard about the pub because of this promotion. So driving to it, I was surprised at how busy it was on a Thursday, and how many laps I had to take around the lot to find a spot. In fact when came out after our meal, a few drivers saw it fit to make their own stalls, parking where no lines existed. It wasn’t until we entered did I realize the additional buzz was due to the New England Patriots game, along with other sporting matches playing across all their wall to wall television screens.

The setting was your run of the mill bar across three rooms. A stage for live music, a waxed wood floor for any dancing, and plenty of cushiony booth seats. We were made to feel comfortable, which was nice considering the need to wait and the feeling that they were short staffed. It was a busy night, furthered by a prize draw every 30 minutes.

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We were each give a raffle ticket, two were dropped off at our table without an explanation. In the main room, an announcer spoke and called names and number. We really had no context, but after the three rounds of prizing, our number was actually called and we had won. Our prize was a cooler, a ball cap, and a tee shirt. None of it we need, it was just more fun that we had won. Especially as we were planning to leave, but me not being able to find my keys delayed us. Proof in my belief that everything happens for a reason, good or bad.

As I mentioned earlier, it felt like there weren’t enough servers. We were left waiting after our hostess gave us our menus. So when we were finally noticed, we made sure to ask all our questions and order everything we wanted, all at once. A server passing by was kind enough to take our order. She explained that our intended server was now slammed and that she would be taking care of us going forward. And she did a good job of that, clearing our empty plates and completing circuits of check ins.

What impressed me most about our destination was the variety of people they brought in, and the variety their menu offered to them all. Burly men in leather, a couple of elderly Korean couples out on double date night, sports enthusiasts in jerseys, and women in visibility vests looking for an after work drinking hole, and a large group of business professionals in power suits and tie. And here we were looking for a comfy place to eat at in our sweats and faded jeans.

The menu was an extensive read, but it gave you confidence, just as the exterior of the restaurant did. They have been “serving the community since 1934”, and proud to have that on signs and as the header of the menu. They prided themselves on “making their food with love” and “serving (it) with pride”, for those who love “homemade comfort food.”

They had your regular and run-of-the-mill bar cuisine with comfort eats like tacos, chicken tenders, calamari, and potato skins. Perfect appetizers for some more dressed up burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and wraps. There was a shrimp caesar, some lamb lollipops, “steak Neptune” with beef and shrimp, a pan seared salmon wrap, and “epic” burgers with an over easy egg or blue cheese.

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We definitely had to take advantage of the 30 cent wings, available all day Monday to Thursday (we came on the right day), with the same deal also available at various times during the weekend. But only you order any drink. It was a bar, so we got 20oz beer and a cider at $6 a sleeve. It was nice that each came in their own specialty glass.

The menu claimed that their wings were famous, and that was worth seeing for ourselves. They sounded impressive, but looked on the smaller side when they arrived. But I guess I can’t expect much when paying $3 for 10. The minimum order for each flavour was 10. You choose between either five sauces or four seasonings, and either one of two dips. Reading the menu, I was confused at first. I thought we could stack flavours, choosing one sauce and one seasoning. That wasn’t the case, but they were willing to toss one in the other for 50 cents extra.

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My guest choose the lemon pepper, which was a dry rub; and I the honey garlic, which was a lot more saucier. The lemon flavour was strong with a tart and salty finish, and a granulated crunch from a thorough tossing and steep deep fry.

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Honey garlic is always a safe bet, and a good comparison point. It made the over cooked wings that much more juicier with its thick and sticky sauce. I was interested in taking a batch home, but was told it wouldn’t be at the 30 cent price. I would have to pay the full price which was $1 per wing at 12 for $12. The wings were good considering how much you had to pay, but they weren’t good enough to pay full price for.

They forgot the blue cheese dipping sauce we had ask for, but at least we weren’t charged for it. Though I could have used it to help change the taste, or better yet: blue cheese with a couple of sticks of vegetables. But once again at $3 a plate, I shouldn’t ask for more.

The “Woody’s presidential election burger” asked you to choose your side for $15 each. It was Trump versus Hilary. We got one of each burger and both were served with their classic thick cut fries. These were some of the nicest, chewy potato fries that I have ever had.

You can’t help but to discuss politics when ordering either of these burgers. It had us speculating over the future of the states and the possibility of a civil war, as predicted by baba vanga, a mystic who has have some of her other predictions come to light. (A really interesting Wikipedia search, I suggest reading it when/if you get the chance.)

As for who would get which burger, we decided the best course of action was to not get too political, and to share both servings splitting both down the middle.

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“The Trump Burger” was full of baloney, Russian dressing, and a small pickle. They were clever with their ingredients and jokes. I would have preferred the baloney and pickle as part of the burger filling, instead of them just being toppings that skewered it. The patty for both burgers were fairly thick, and the need for a thorough cook had both on the drier side. Luckily both their sauces were as plentiful as they were humorous.

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The Russian dressing in this was similar to a tangy thousand island. But it just made the lettuce soggy and the tomato slip and slide under the pressure of your grip around the crunchy brioche bun.

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“The Hillary Burger” came with a slice of spam, Lewinsky sauce, and a sour pickle. I was curious about the sauce, and could only imagine it being white, thick, and unappetizing. So when I saw a dollop of it on the top, and more of it oozing out the side I couldn’t help but chuckle.

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It tasted like a watered down ranch dressing, but overall pretty unnoticeable. It was the spam that stole the show for me. Like with the burger above, I wished the toppings were on the inside, rather than just garnish on top. It’s party was also dry and it also proved difficult to maintain between two steady hands.

 

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.
There aren’t too many destination dining spots in my area, so it’s nice to get such a place with such a breath of variety within a 20 minute drive. They are a clean and chill bar spot, with an extensive menu guaranteed to satisfy a great variety of diners. They also have some pretty generous drink and food specials worth coming back more for. And the occasional event and activities with prizes are a nice bonus. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WOODY’S
935 Brunette Avenue, Coquitlam BC, V3K 1C8
604-526-1718
woodyspub.com
Woody's Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Pint Public House

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This isn’t one that I wouldn’t immediately think of for food. Especially as I have yet to find a visit a public houses that left me raving over its menu. But given the name and the atmosphere, one I would gladly visit for just drinks.

“The Pint” is a colourful sports bar on the corner of Pender and Abbott. With plenty of standing room you find groups gathered by the entrance and at any available area just chatting. Various sporting matches played across several flat screens. Almost every square inch of each wall was covered in either sporting memorable and/or beer and drinking adverts. Helmets hung from the support beams, pendants flew from the walls, and autographed collectables stood protected behind frames. Even the ceiling was decorated with a red and black harlequin-like pattern. This is definitely the place you want to be at to drink and party, you can’t help be feed off the energy of the lively crowd.

Looking to get a little buzz going before a concert at Roger’s Arena, we found ourselves here for stop number two. The concert prices are so steep and we figured our money went further here.

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What would have cost us about $60 bucks there was $25 here. We went for one of their table top kegs, which looked more like a long neck bong with a tap. It was a litre of beer your drank and poured at your own pace. Our “OK springs Bavarian beer” was kept cold with a cylinder of ice. The beer was good, but it was the novelty that stole the show and would have me returning.

Of note is the ability to charge your phone at their bar. They offer a pay for charging system for dying phones. You pay a fee and they supply the cord and outlet. I am sure there is a way to secure your phone, but I didn’t look into it as it would require a walk across the bar and it was already hard to hop on and off of their high stools.

 

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? – No.
We didn’t stay long enough and tried enough to give a thorough assessment. But for a couple of beers and the start of rowdy night, this is one I would recommend. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE PINT
455 Abbott Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2L2
604-684-0258
pintvancouver.com
The Pint Public House 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

Granville Island Brewing

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Looking for a refreshing way to cool down? Beer is the answer! And here in Vancouver, we our home to several breweries to help. Today we were in Granville Island checking out one of the city’s more popular labels. It is a large grey stucco building flagged with their various brews: lagers, IPAs, and ales. We would soon try one of each.

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Try not to trip on the sandwich board doling out “beer science”. It made sense to me.

Given the steady traffic and the bodies in the door way, we were surprised to be able to get a seat with no wait, but not surprised to have to rush through our time with it. Our server would be ending her shift and asked that we settle up prematurely. We did to accommodate, but only to be forced out sooner than we anticipated. The general feeling is that when you have paid you are done and should free the table for someone waiting. We were not impressed.

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Their taproom was sandwiched between the brewery and their gift shop. It was set up like your standard bar. High tops, share tables, and a physical bar with all beverages on tap. Naturally they only serve Granville island brewery products.

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It’s popularity has earned them tourist attraction status with regularly scheduled tours. The spotless glass wall that separated brewery from bar allowed those dining in to watch the day to day operations in beer making. Large metal vats, yards of tubing, and pipes snaking above. Their transparency forced them to be clean and up to code. Something I appreciate when considering what is to go inside of me. Today a tour group was being taken through their process from hop to beer. You could see the flash of their cameras bounce off the vanished metal. Their gift shop was located on the opposite end. In it they stocked their beer and other keepsakes. Trinkets to help you remember your time here, in true tourist attraction fashion. Being local we didn’t find the need to visit.

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The drink menu was in the form of a tasting map, with the option to try it all as “tasters”. Four 5oz glasses for $7. We went for two rounds to try them all, adding on a couple of dollars to also get today’s special micro batch. The miniature pints were served on the placemat as a way to mark one from the other.

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Here are all the beers on the menu in a glorious assembly. Tasters of everything on tap: Island Lager, Hey Day hefeweizen, English Bay pale ale, False Creek raspberry ale, small batch beer of the day, Two tides India session ale, Maple Shack cream ale, Swing Span amber ale, and their infamous IPA.

There wasn’t too much on the food menu. Light snacks and limited handhelds. Nuts, chicken wings, soup, and vegetables with dip to snack on. And if you are looking for something more filling choose between their poutine, the one salad option, their only sandwich, the one burger, or their only vegetarian option.

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Salty snacks are best paired with beer so we went with the meat and cheese plate. The “Farmer’s plate” included Benton brothers tomme de savoie and aged goat Gouda with oyama rosette de Lyon and Okanagan red wine prosciutto. Served with green apple, artisan mustards, bacon shallot jam and assorted breads. It was a great companion to the beers. We would eat and drink all the above in an assorted fashion. Though we’re disappointed that, given the area they didn’t include more artisan breads. Something hand made from one of the many bakeries nearby. It is what the area is known for after all.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The setting is unique, and the concept of doing your own taste test is always fun. Why commit to one when you can try them all? The food can be missed, but you are here to fill up on beer anyways. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GRANVILLE ISLAND BREWING
1441 Cartwright street, Vancouver BC V6H 3R7
604-687-3729
gib.ca
Click to add a blog post for Granville Island Brewing on 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
Click to add a blog post for Mahony & Sons on Zomato

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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Townhall Public House

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On route to Mission Raceway we stop at this restaurant, this is our yearly ritual. However this is the third year we are here, and this is its third reincarnation of said restaurant. The first year we liked the “Buffalo Club” so wanted to come back the following year, when we were in the area again. To our surprise, there was a “Wings” instead, so we ended up eating there. And today we pulled up to see “Townhall”. So as tradition dictated, we had dinner there anyways.

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The restaurant is on the second story of two story building. It requires a climb up their winding staircase. The foyer, like the washrooms, was plastered with posters of blown up album covers, they spanned across decades and continue to creep up the stairs like the steps.

On the second floor, despite the presence of a hostess booth, you are asked to seat yourself. The music was loud with a mood setting beat. Many tables were filled with happy patrons taking loudly to be heard. They were of all ages, all enjoying the up beat vibe. The restaurant is divided into two rooms, we found what we could given the busy Friday night crowd. Settling for a table in need of bussing. However a server was quick to approach us and quicker to set us up.

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The second room, in which we sat, was dressed like a den, done in the fashion of a modern speakeasy. Given the brick walls, the wide widows detailed with decals, the wooden panels, and the hard wood floors; I felt it would make for a very nice man cave. The images of beer labels spray painted over bricks, and sporting matches broadcasted on their numerous flat screen televisions, echoed this sentiment. The seats were homey. Couches and chairs with carved arm rests, dimpled leather booths and sturdy high top stools. We were definitely in the lounge.

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At the opposite end of the room was a tiled fireplace. Thankfully it was left off for the summer season. The room was already pretty hot without it burning. All these bodies and no air conditioning, they made things very humid. I wasn’t the only one fanning myself with sheets of the laminated menu. Was the temperature intentional to get you ordering more drinks? I was seriously wondering. Back to the fireplace. I imaged it pretty cozy for the colder months and something unique to set this bar apart. Surrounding it on either sides were wooden book shelves. they were filled haphazardly with what looked like encyclopedias and first edition tomes. They gave a learned and studious feel to the place. Though the iron rack of metal beer kegs adjacent sort of took away from this, in a oxymoronic kind of way. It was used as a barrier between the foyer and the dining area, matching their pub/bar theme.

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The main room was set up surrounding the bar. Multiple high top chairs around high top tables, facing multiple beer taps. I found the highlights of this room to be its viewing distance of their in house pizza oven by the front, and the golden pipeline light bulb fixtures above. The oven was hand crafted and flown in. It is able to heat pizzas at 900 degrees in 90 seconds. A fact proudly announced on their menu along with the fact that the restaurant is part of the “Joseph Richard Group”. This is their 9th public house. They boast serving pub fare at its finest. We were eager to find out for ourselves.

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The menu had your classic pub/bar offerings. Deep fried shareables, hand held entrees, and anything that goes well with beers and cocktails. Deep fried pickles, chicken tenders, dry ribs, nachos, calamari, and sliders. They promised that the meats in their sandwiches and the burgers between each bun were never frozen, but prepared fresh the day of. Steaks, salads, and soups. They had it all covered and even had donuts for dessert. Basically they served anything that you would expect at a similar casual chain. As it was so hot, I was tempted by their yellow tuna and quinoa salad, but as this was a pub and left I should go with what they do best.

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Craving chicken wings, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to try them stuffed. “Stuffed chicken wings”. Five bone in chicken wings stuffed with jalapeño, bacon and cheese. The order comes with a side of fries and a dish of ranch for dipping. Breaded with a thick coat and filled full, the wings ballooned to double their normal size. The concept of stuffed wings is alluring, however the filling used was overwhelming. The prominent flavours of nacho cheese and spicy jalapeño hid away the seasoned breading and the tender meat around the bone. The breading reminded me of a chicken tender, crispy on the outside, but needed a sauce to dip in to. Something to give it some moisture, some additional flavour. Luckily the ranch dip and the side of ketchup offered great solutions. Both also served as helpful palate refreshers.

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“Townhall perogies”. Cheddar stuffed dumplings, fried crispy. Served on house made gravy, topped with applewood bacon, fried chorizo sausage, sour cream, and green onions. Thanks to the additional fry treatment the perogies were slightly crispy on the outside, while maintaining their chewy centres. With all that was going on in this bowl, they ate like a meal instead of an appetizer. Lots of salty meats and plenty of heavy gravy. Though at the same time it felt jumbled. Too much was going on in the flavour department, it needed more cohesion. I thought, all the toppings would have faired better in a jambalaya. Although I am biased as I prefer my perogies for breakfast with cheese whiz and sour cream.

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We spotted their dome shaped pizza oven on the way in so decided we should give their Neapolitan pizzas a try. Plus they had a whole menu insert dedicated to it so it must be worth tasting. Their pizza listing was divided between the traditional and their more inventive styles. The “new world” list had a tandoori chicken pizza with a cilantro yogurt, a Thai prawn with Sambal seasoned sesame vegetables, and the “fortuna” included poached pear, toasted pecans and a balsamic glaze. On another night, with a larger group they would be fun to share and sample. If you wanted something specific? You also had the option to craft your own pizza. Choosing your own meats from either land or sea, picking out what toppings you wanted from the farm, and which herbs to flavour and garnish the pie.

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As our first taste we kept with the “Old world” pizzas, specifically the classic “Margherita”. Made with San marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. The presentation was pleasant, a full thin crust pizza on a large pizza board. The cheese was bubbly and the crust was crisp. The slightly sweet tomato sauce complimented well the fresh leaves of basil. Hands down my favourite Neapolitan pizza flavour, and they represented it well here.

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The server accidentally included a poutine with our order. When we brought it to her attention, she invited us to take it on the house, assuring us it would not be included on our bill. Though with all the food we had, and the side order of fries our chicken came with, it was left half eaten. But I guess us picking at it was still better than throwing it all away. There are three types of poutine to choose from. This was their “classic” with cheese curds and beef gravy. The thin fries were quick to soak up the generous amount of gravy, and quick to grow limp and soggy. It was your average bar style poutine.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Sadly, I found the setting out weighted the food. The decor is what got me excited about our visit, and is what had me hopeful for the food to come. However they got caught up remixing the classics, adding twists in everything, and spicing up great originals. And often more is not more, but can end up make things less. However with so much to try, I am sure a return visit would yield a different experience. Plus it is traditional, we will definitely be back. After all they have plenty of specials for each day of the week, giving you reason to come back. Including a trivia night with prizes every Monday. Sadly all the way out in Maple Ridge, this might not be a convenient drive if you are not a local. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TOWNHALL
Hammond Mill Centre, 200-20690 Lougheed, Maple Ridge
604-457-0100
jrgvancouver.ca/townhall-maple-ridge
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CRAFT Beer Market, brunch

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We were already in the area so after finding free street side parking right out back, we made this our stop. How often do you find parking this easy in Olympic Village? I should have taken a photo, the parking was that good.

In a previous post I wrote I would return and here I was. “Craft” is definitely one of my favourite big bars, the area surrounding it is just so scenic. It’s not often that I am up and out on a weekend to take advantage of a Saturday or Sunday brunch. But at 1:30pm we were seated in time to take try their “Over Easy” brunch from 10am to 2pm. It is during this time that they invite families in, by offering kids specific menus and “half pints” specials for those 12 and younger. A clever idea to take advantage of the residentials living in the area.

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Since my original visit over a year a ago they have really settled well into their space. The room was bustling, but with all their ample seating, across multiple rooms and floors, they need not turn hungry patrons away. Their slogan, “Where everything is on top”, is stamped across their glass entrance. It’s meaning is reflected in the space and their service promise. Looking up at the valued ceiling you see pipes. These lead lines lead from their multiple craft beer filled kegs right to the taps of their double sided island bar. It’s impressive in its architecture. I also believe the slogan refers to how they treat their guests. I have only ever gotten friendly and attentive service across all my visits. With frequent check ins and even the managers striking up conversation by your table, you are certainly made to feel like one of those things that they put on top.

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Because of brunch the vibe of the room was different, not your usual rowdy bar crowd. But more so we felt like we’ve been seated in the family section. Sandwiched by large families with multiple high chairs and crying babies. We had to keep our conversation PG, less someone overheard and took offense. And since the bar invited the neighbourhood we could not hide behind “you don’t bring kids to a bar if you don’t want the to hear things they shouldn’t”. However enroute to the washroom, further towards the back and closer to the water side view sat the regulars. Large and loud parties and mature patrons on their day off, each with beer stein in hand and mouths open wide in mid speak. We came too late to be seated here. And the restaurant was not busy enough to open their mezzanine for service. It was not the rambunctious bar vibe we had hoped, but we survived whispering our secrets back and forth across the narrow table.

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Sticking to the limited time brunch menu I had their “Beersar”, when beer meets Caesar. Mixing Salt Co’s house lager, Motts Clamato juice, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce together. Then finishing the glass with a salted rim and a garnish of speared pepper. I wanted to try what a beer would taste like in a drink I already enjoy. Sadly not for me. Its appeal wore off quick and I preferred not to finish my portion. Thick, heavy, and hearty, with salted spice. It certainly had a fiery kick from the tabasco and pickled pepper. Though I found the drink overly bubbly from the fizz of the beer, with its flavour being the most pronounced. Whereas when I order a Caesar I expect a savoury beverage with tomato notes that drinks like a meal. A flavour that olives better compliment. Salty olives don’t mix well with bitter beer. Overall I found it didn’t blend well for my liking.

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When you see it on the menu you have to do it! “Chicken and Waffles”, this would be my guest’s first try of this iconic dish. Rossdown Farms chicken, fried American style and served with house made waffles, maple syrup, and their CRAFT signature hot sauce. The skewer fruit was a nice touch, its colour picked up an otherwise dull brown plate and its fragrance would add some freshness to a greaser meal. It looked better than it tasted. If done right the crispiness of the breaded chicken skin would run parallel with the crispiness on the edges of the waffle. Both on the saltier side until flavoured with real, light and sweet maple syrup. Unfortunately this was not the case, as my guest could not get past eating a savoury meat item with a piece of sweet breakfast dough. I thought she wasted the experience, but to each their own. I expected a crispy skin that sealed in the juices in the chicken. The reality was that the chicken was overcooked, the breading was chewy and the breast was dry. As a whole the dish lacked flavour and we didn’t find the hot sauce and maple syrup very complimentary to enjoy together. I personally would have preferred a sweet barbecue sauce over both, to use on both. The waffles tasted a little burnt, but despite their charred exterior they got soggy quick. Once again disappointing but decent.

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The “Red Racer IPA Taquito Skillet” made with Rossdown Farms chicken stuffed taquitos, topped with pico de gallo and cheese. The addition of bacon and two poached BC farm fresh eggs made this plate officially “breakfast”. The presentation was sure something. The skillet was hot to the touch, with no warning from our server I shocked my hand on the cast iron. It was a filling dish, and the perfect representation of brunch. Breakfast familiars with a larger savoury portion to transition seamlessly into lunch. I found the hot sauce too spicy, it overpowered an already flavourful dish, so has pushed it aside. With red peppers, black beans, yellow corn, and scratch match guacamole this was a tex-mex lover’s dream. They went well as added flavour for each of the four taquitos below. The taquitos were made to order, stuffed full with tender chicken and melted cheese. The wrapping around each was served crisp from a good even deep fry. Though this would not last as the toppings made things soggy quick. So I ate fast.

As I mentioned earlier the manager made his rounds. Personally stopping at each table. He inquired about our dishes and pointed to my empty plates with tissues piled on top. It was great he cared to know my opinion, but it would have been nice if he bussed the table while he was conveniently here.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
As my guest’s first visit she found the place run of the mill, serving just regular pub food. However she did acknowledge that brunch may not be the best time to gauge a pub. The setting is different, the vibe of the room is different, the food and beverages taken are different. She agreed to come back to try more and get a better sense of the place during an evening service. I stand by my original assessment. I deem “Craft” a great place for a large gathering of people you want to impress. With a full menu of burgers, entrees, and appetizers and full lists of beers and wines, they have everyone covered. Don’t deny your cravings.

CRAFT
85 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver BC, V5Y3K8
604-709-2337
vancouver.craftbeermarket.ca
CRAFT Beer Market on Urbanspoon

The Charles Bar

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It’s not often that I get an opportunity to indulge in happy hour. Taking advantage of the lower prices means working earlier, having a later lunch or an earlier dinner. In fact today we were an hour too early and opted to wait for our 3-6pm window to indulge in $4 beers or $4 glasses of wine, and tapas specials at $6. The place was ultimately chosen based on what came up when I googled “happy hour” as well as its proximity to us. Working downtown you are in the hub of happy hour and have your pick of more than a few dressed up bars, each offering what I deem as crafty pub fare. My guest was sold on “Charles Bar” after hearing they had deep fried pickles and deep fried risotto balls.

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The rush hour crowd was driving away from the city, thus making parking decent with meters up front and around each corner. The restaurant itself was large. Inside, the room was anchored by their island bar, right in the middle of the open space. On either ends of it was additional seating in areas flanked out. Benches, booths, and high tops in corners offered both individual and large group settings.

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Hard wood floors underfoot, wood plank beams overhead, and varnished repurposed wood tables under arm. My guest of the afternoon described them as being “earthy”. They well matched the simple theme, along with the concrete pillars and florescent light bulbs squared off in cages.

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The menu offers your pub classics: chicken wings, gourmet burgers and fries, calamari, nachos, pizza, and weekly specials at 1 to 2 dollar discounts. The happy hour menu offered only a smattering of the above, but in my opinion, the most interesting of them all. A pizza with cheese and figs, a braised and grilled pork belly sandwich, and of course all the deep fried, one biters.

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“Beer pickles”. Beer battered pickle spears with a lemon dill yogurt for dipping. They were fresh from the fryer, each spear had a smoky hotness, the kind that burns your tongue if you go recklessly biting into it. Each pickle quarter possessed the perfect melding of a crispy crunchy texture and a juicy crunchy texture. Each bite practically snapped off. My guest found there to be too much breading, whereas I hoped for more to help cut into the naturally saltiness of the briny pickles. The tartar-like sauce was the best part, it had a refreshing tang and was what really made the appetizer. Hot and cold, hard and creamy.

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“Pork croquettes” made with shredded 5 spice pork and potato graufrettes, served with a sriracha ketchup for dipping. Dip liberally, the promise of Sriracha branded hotness in the sauce sticks. I opted to enjoy each croquette without the sauce, not that any additional flavouring was needed. I was most curious about the composition of each circle. How did they fill a hollowed out potato dumpling with so many strings of pull pork? And how did they get these juicy bites so round in the first place. Potato, pork, and barbecue sauce, in one handheld bite, what’s not to love? The meat was tender and the middle toasty. The evolution of bar snacks that came on a bed of house made potato crisps. The faux chips were sliced in a criss cross pattern and used to prop up the pork croquettes at the bottom of the ornamental fry basket. They were a wonderful surprise to find mid way through the basket. I could see both these and the croquettes easily being enjoyed with ketchup. I found the former without taste, and could have use some salt.

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“Fig & Boursin Pizzetta”. The pizza was topped with date paste, caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella, Boursin, mission figs, and truffled arugula. This made for a nice break from all the deep fried foods in both its light texture, fresh fragrance, and sweet taste. I failed to notice any of the truffle’s essence. But the candied figs certainly made it memorable. The figs had a sweet honey-like flavour that ran parallel with the sweetness in the caramelized onions. Both paired well with the salty cheese. And when mixed with the freshness of the arugula it’s a winning flavour combination that works well. The softened cheese had a thick and chunkier texture to it, it made each bite creamy, almost dessert like, especially keeping in mind the dates of earlier. Overall my guest said it tasted “Italian”.

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“Arancini”, the Italian name for fried risotto balls. Something new I learned today. These were made with lemon zest, fresh basil, san marzano sauce, arugula oil, and shaved Parmesan. The arancini were the perfect combination of crispy and soft. Crispy from the perfectly fried batter and soft the creamy and well done risotto. Like the spicy sauce before it, this sauce too was one to singe the tongue.

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“Chinatown shredded pork sliders”. Take shredded pork that has been cooked for eight hours, season it with a 5 spice BBQ sauce, and serve it with a cilantro sesame slaw, on brioche slider buns. The sweet and salty flavouring found in the meat was very similar to most Asian style sauces. The tender pull pork and the crispy cabbage slaw balanced each other, chewy and crunchy, sweet and tangy. Though I could have used even more mayo in the slaw or more sauce in the BBQ as the vegetable and bread were a touch on the dry side. And with out a patty the meat was lacking in juices that would have moisten the buns. Though the bottom brioche was soaked enough, it was the top that tasted hard and over toasted. This was an interesting twist on regular beef patty slider, definitely a more dressed up a slider.

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Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The bill came out to be less than $25 per person, after taxes, but before tips. This total included five different tapas sized plates, and three modestly priced and decently poured glasses of wine. At prices like these I could afford more meals in between lunch and dinner. The food was a large step above just regular bar cuisine, effort was put into crafting this menu. It had features unique to them and favourable twists that made eating familiar. It was like listening to good remix of a song you were once loved. It brought you in familiarity while giving you the excitement of trying something new. Fun. Don’t deny your cravings.

THE CHARLES BAR
136 West Cordova Street, Vancouver BC, V6B4K2
604-568-8040
The Charles Bar on Urbanspoon

All Star Wings and Ribs

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Ever since I heard their grand opening broadcasted on our local radio channel, I bookmarked this one as one to visit. Right in the hub of Robson Street, with convenient and inexpensive parking underground and an elevator ride that brings you right to the door way. Located where causal dining chain “Moxie’s” once hosted, it has been a while since this arena was open and made public for dinner.

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The sports bar theme was prevalent from the moment you step into the doorway. The floor, painted and waxed to look like centre ice. Tripled up television flat screens and red cushioned benches made the need to wait tolerable. Though with ample seating available, across three defined spaces, waiting long for a table shouldn’t be an issue. That and judging by the traffic on a Friday night, the restaurant really hasn’t picked up much momentum yet.

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The bar is made sportier with framed memorabilia and signed collector’s items. Jerseys pressed, equipment used, and photos captured in history making moments. Most notable was their own Winter Olympic 2010 torch enclosed and protected behind glass. A television visible from every seat and built in to each booth in the lounge ensured you got as much live action sports as you needed. We grabbed such a spacious booth, one of eight. Each divided with high backed cushions and a plexiglass lit with black light. It allowed for some unique and easily edited effects. Quotes, occasions, and cheers looked three dimensional as if they were glowing.

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The waitresses were just as sporty, dawning their own uniforms. Capped sleeved baseball-like jerseys for the hostess and tight logo-ed tanks for the waitresses. Each with the restaurant’s name in blue and white. I didn’t see any male staff members on shift tonight, a point I feel was maybe intentional given the direction of their bar? Clearly they were catering to a specific clientele.

The menu deemed that they were “The King Of The Wing”, promising “excellence, quality, and service”, to us, their values guests. With a page dedicated to listing their 200 wing flavours and their two rib options on another shared page. Why the focus on wings and lack there of on ribs? Yet both are equally named in their title. Though they don’t just serve either, they are also well stocked on all your other classic bar favourites. Familiar appetizers like onion rings, in five varieties and five flavours; chicken tenders, nachos, calamari, garlic bread, fish and chips, and sliders. The potato choices are labelled, “Way to go Idaho”. Fries done French, tex-mexed, russets left in skins, and dressed from tzatziki to tomato, with gravy to pulled pork. This trend continued to other common bar entrees like salads, sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs; all just as decorated as their potatoes, similar flavours repeated on different platforms. The new one to the bar scene is their selection of “gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches”, made with artisan sourdough bread and served with a side of fries. Like the others, this too falls under the comfort food category. Your cheese and bread partnered with combinations like bacon and pineapple, guacamole and cherry tomatoes; or filled with crushed tortillas, amongst other things. I was most intrigued by the Brie cheese, cranberries, pecans, and maple syrup combo. Though with a description like that, it isn’t anything I can’t duplicate for myself, at home. I can go on and on on what they had, what I didn’t try, but there is a lot more to cover and a lot more I would have liked to try, and I haven’t even covered the 200 wings.

In theory is great to have so many flavours, it certainly is its own attraction. But realistically you get pretty overwhelmed with it all. 200 flavours of wings and no description for any. You really had to rely on your server for guidance and be prepared to ask for details if not samples. Is “choc full of bees” with honey and/or with chocolate? Is the “Alfredo the crazy Italian” an Italian herbed wing covered in Alfredo sauce? Does “Caesar does Jamaica” have a greater Greek influence than it is jerked? “Bloody caesar”, marinated in a Bloody Caesar cocktail? “Col. Mustard’s honey”, mustard and honey right? Well that was an easy one. Pineapple curry, plum, ranch, creole BBQ; a few were givens. Though more were left unknown, ones I couldn’t even begin to guess at. “Where’s the beef”, weren’t these all suppose to be chicken? “Mild”, mild what? “Montizuma’s revenge”, isn’t that slang for diarrhea? Why would I want that? “Homocide”, now we are getting scary. “Raptor”, “the buds”, You pucker”, “M-Che-D”, “midnight express”, “tsunami”, “oceano”, “dragon kiss” “ocean spray”, and “Kelly man”? I could go on and on… each told me nothing. The more I read, the more I wondered, the more I wondered, the more I wanted the decision making to stop.

They boasted the use of 100% pure canola oil, making their wings trans fat and cholesterol free. I knew the traditional honey garlic would be a must have and something proven good on any occasion, but was forced to rely on our server’s discretion for my second choice. I couldn’t make much sense of the page, even if the wings were arranged with a legend that indicated level of spiciness using easy to decider baseball analogies and clear visuals. For example the pacifier, was for those like myself, ones who can’t take the heat. One baseball for the “tame” minor leagues, two balls for the “medium” juniors, three fireballs for the “hot” farm team, then major leagues, and hard hitters after it. The fireballs become five bombs to symbolize their 5 alarm heat. And the “A-Bombs” and the “H-bombs” signal that you are getting into excruciating pain territory. With “E.L.E”, “extinction level event” warning you that it’s the hottest available, requiring your signature on a waiver before you can order it. All wings also come with a choice of having them “dry”, without their usual breading, also known as “Lord of the wing”. And your choice of sauce in either dill, blue cheese, or ranch. Their “King of the wing” option was having your wings grilled on their own in house BBQ with olive oil and lemon. Prices are based on amount of wings and how many flavours in each order. Each order of wings comes with a large metal bucket for the bones.

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“Honey garlic” wings. A staple, good and true. The thick breading made for meatier bites. Sticky and sweet, as l expected and the best dish of the night.

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“Cleopatra”, our server’s recommendation for the most popular wing. Like the wing before, and as I requested this was a saucy wing. A wing fully dressed in a garlic and Parmesan sauce. I always say you know it’s good when it messes up your breath. Creamy and salty the first two were the best. Though I soon grew weary of the taste, I found it needed another layer to its one dimensional profile. A taste I couldn’t remedy with a dip in dressing, or else it would have been too dressed too creamy. Honey would have been ideal. Towards the bottom of the basket I was attempting to wipe excess sauce off on to the wax paper. It was here that I was thankful for our sides. A way to cleanse the palette in between decadent bites. Over all interesting, a taste that grows on you. But not as a full order.

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1/2 order of “true baby back”, described as “mouth watering and triple glazed”. We choose this one over the only other rib option, the “Bronto beef ribs. Odd that there are only two varieties of ribs at a wings and ribs place. The meat was fall off the bone tender, but the seasonings could have used more work. More spice, more flavour, a little more kick for such juicy pieces. The easiest solution would be to provide a tangy barbecue sauce to dip in to. We choose a side of mashed potatoes and coleslaw instead of fries or their loaded baked potato. I enjoyed the semi mashed potatoes with chunks of peel and loads of butter.

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This is the first restaurant I have seen with sponsors. I suppose it falls in line with their sports analogy. After all what is a franchise without sponsors and advertisements? Coca Cola supplied them with red plastic branded drinking cups. LG helped with all the mounted flat screens. And Molson Canadian and McCain offered their beverage on the menu.

During my walk to the washroom I passed by the second seating area. A space with less booths and more free standing tables. It included a private room surrounded by glass, its windows etched with generic athletes playing the sports they love. A secluded room, ideal for large groups and rowdier gatherings. I was intimated to take any pictures as this empty section was where all the waitresses gathered in their leisure. They stood around chatting with one another in between bussing orders and checking in on their guests. I understood the need to pause, but saw it a little unprofessional. Especially as there was a group seated a few feet away. Five women leaning on fixtures, looking at those passing by, and discussing the events of their day.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Already a bustling franchise several locations strong, based out Toronto; I can see this restaurant’s migration West being a success. A new wings centred bar for Vancouverites, and a new sports focused destination for a eager hockey fans. With its only direct competition being “Wings”, it’s all about location, location, location; and they had a good one. In a highly visible street corner, with a strong theme and a solid menu, this is a no brainer. I liked everything they were offering and would definitely go back for more. I just won’t return hungry, we were kept waiting 30 minutes for our meal. Don’t deny your cravings.

ALLSTAR WINGS & RIBS
808 Bute Street, 2nd Floor
Vancouver BC, V6E 1Y4
604-563-4477
allstarwingsandribs.com
Allstar Wings & Ribs on Urbanspoon

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