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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.┬áIf 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