You don’t go into a pub like this without doing some research first. Knowing this was a space for those who liked science fiction, fantasy, video games, and movies; I made sure to have my first visit be with guests who would appreciate it all as much as I did. The restaurant was decorated wall to wall with various memorabilia, merchandise, props, and collectables. Not an inch of space was wasted. Forgive me if the following description is too much, but there was so much to see, so much that I liked, and so much worth mentioning.
The decorated walls were split into sections, and each was given its own theme. Closest to the window was the one for “Dr. Who”, it came with cartoon character fan art. The “Alien” wall included rubber alien toys, positioned to look as if they were ready to jump. And my favourite was the column covered with prop ray guns, laser pistols, baster rifles, and other point and shoot weapons that married fantasy with reality.
The bar at the very back hosted “POP” vinyl figures from “Lord of the Rings” fame, and your favourite classic horror movie characters. Prop weapons were used as art. Hand held blades were framed, and sword and shied were mounted as decorations. The glass was broken from the showcase that was protecting a board sword. It was labelled as being set aside in case of a potential zombie attack. Other random decor pieces included: A giant, more than 6 sided dungeon and dragons red di. A ring of iron keys that I can imagine belonging to a dungeon gate. And a “Art-o-mat” machine that made art to go for $5. Basically this was a repurposed cigarette machine that now dispenses hand crafted pieces of art from all over the continent.
Everything felt sturdy and looked hardy, true to the “tavern” in its name. Old world wooden chandeliers hung over great, long hall tables. The chandeliers were a thick wooden circle, with iron bases attached, used to hold thick candles in place. Traditionally they would be ones of wax, however in this case they were plastic and flameless. Together it felt like a seat to enjoy a good pint of ale in, not one for sipping pretty cocktails at. If you squint hard enough you can imagine removing your helm, throwing down your chest plate, and placing your blade before you. As you sat down for a wooden bowl of gruel and libations in a metal goblet.
I was surprised that it was this packed on a Monday night, at 8:30pm. However it all made sense when we later found out it was movie trivia night. Tonight’s presentation was, “The adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: across the 8th dimension”. Those tables participating were given a pencil and a piece of paper. The paper was a list of 14 questions for a pop quiz. Answers would be obtain through watching the movie. Tonight’s winner would earn gift cards and props from old movies. We attempted to participate, but being in the second room, with a divider hindering our view of the projector and screen, we soon gave up. This put a dent in our experience. My guest found it not fair to have the opportunity, and yet not have it so that all the guests could participate, as half the restaurant couldn’t see. Though this design was useful for those wanting to eat, drink, and speak without having to complete with a talking television. At least we were included in the free popcorn given out to celebrate Monday movie nights.
For those not wanting to, or unable to watch the movie, a stack of board games are available as alternative entertainment. You can bring your own or choose from their library, with titles like “Lord of the Rings Monopoly”. And for solo diners, grab a book from their library, I like the choose your own adventure ones, and they had a bunch of them. These are the scifi or fantasy books where the reader is given options on what the protagonist should do. To take the story in the direction you want you are told to turn to a certain page. You bookmark the path you didn’t take to later go back and read. This is in case your character dies, and so that you know the conclusion to each scenario. That was my childhood.
The menu was just as fun to read. The cover resembled that of a role playing game; with sorcerers, goblins and dwarves on the front, and instructions and details for game play on the back. Each menu item listed was your ordinary bar fare, but made fun with a quirky name and unusual descriptions. A cross between the fantasy theme and the old timey tavern feel. The word “epic” was used to take salads and burgers to the next level. “Crow” to pay respects to their name. And seeing “Cthulhu”, “plants verses zombies”, and “elvish” made you smile. The drinks in my opinion had the best names and most intriguing list of ingredients. The “sexy teenage vampire” included angst in its recipe. The “eye of sauron” had enteral malice. And the “potion of extra healing” was said to be made with unicorn ichor. The entire menu took us a good 10 minutes to go through, we wanted to and felt like we had to read it all. Not just skim. Ordering shots came as a game. You can roll a 20 sided role playing di to help you pick, it saved you a $1 by going random. Otherwise it is $6 to choose your shot. Shot 20 was the “critical hit” made with frangelico and whip cream. This shot was not available off the menu, and is only for those who can roll a 20 on the di. And you even got to keep the glass this super sized mega shot came in. We seemed to be the only one rolling a di tonight. I would like to come back for a night of just drinking and di rolling. My guest rolled a 12 and the “Curse of the Aztec Mummy” was his prize. This shot was made with tequila and goldschlager, which I was told comes with gold flakes. However after waiting for its arrival for nearly 15 minutes we finally decided to cancel its appearance. I attempted to track our server to do so, only to find her watching the movie along side all the patrons. When I did, she insisted she could make it right away, but her opportunity to do that had already passed. It was sad because up to this point she was attentive and fun, I guess the movie was a good one.
When your order is up your plate comes out from the sliding window pass, located on the back wall of the bar. I liked the idea of this secret window passage. We had to get the “Chickpea fries”, as this was labelled as their signature dish. They looked like and were prepared like French fries, but made from chickpeas. The basket came with a choice of spicy sriracha aioli, sun dried tomato aioli, or a honey mustard sauce. We didn’t get an option and as a result spent bites trying to figure which of the three we were dipping in to. The fries were different, but enjoyable. A grainy middle with a crispy shell. Both textures suited the creaminess of the sauce. I enjoyed the different sizes each stick came in, the smaller ones were more crunchy and the larger ones more doughy. We pondered how they managed to get chick peas into such a fluffy texture. My only criticism is the basket should have been filled and packed tight with more sticks.
“Mac & Cheese of Cthulhu”. Described as creamy noodles in a homemade three cheese sauce. The write up also included a introduction to Cthulhu, for those uncertain of how Cthulhu meat would taste in a pasta dish. (Kidding) Even the first bite, topped with melted baked cheese was bland. Thankfully the noodles were cooked well and of a fun shape, to have something positive to write about. My guest used the aid of ketchup and left over chickpea fry sauce to perk up his pasta. Cooked properly, not flavoured properly.
When was the last time you had stew? This reminded you of home and fall. A perfect dish fitting for this time and the table.”Barbaric beef stew”. With roasted potatoes, yams, onions, carrots, butternut squash, and chunks of beef; all in a thick gravy. Served with a crust of bread. There was an option to upgrade your bread to chips for $2, but stew and bread go together hand in hand. It tasted just like how my guest’s mom would have made it in Saskatoon. She claimed that ample gravy is the key to a good stew, and her portion had just that. The potatoes were your garden variety potato with the skin still on, they added the perfect starchy bite. The bread was used to clean the bowl by soaking up all that extra delicious sauce.
“Storm Burger”. All beef patty with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, topped with sundried-tomato aioli on a fresh Portuguese bun. Gluten free bread was available as an alternative at no extra charge, for this and all other sandwiches. The burger came with three possible upgrades. I made this a “thunder burger” with the addition of a honey BBQ sauce, smoked provolone, and crispy bacon for $3. My other choices were to go “legendary” for $3 with a second patty. And for “mutant sized” appetites go “apocalypse” with two extra patties for $6. Burgers are usually a safe choice at a pub or bar. So long as the patty was done right it pulls the meal together. Luckily the charbroil was good on burger. Other than that it tasted as it should and fell apart as most burgers do.
Everything smelled good. Though it was a shame that the food and service didn’t have the same high standards as the decor. As a table we agreed that when preparing classics there is no excuse for the bland and flavourless. And that there could have been more done to make each dish as inventive and different as their names suggested them to me. We bought into the hype the menu was selling us. Our server was great until the food came, aside from not offering a choice in our fry sauce. As soon as our plates landed she disappeared. She didn’t check in to ask how the food was, our glasses of water remained empty, and tracking her down was a journey. Shame our server didn’t know that my guest decides on how much to tip based on how much water stays in her cup. Sadly it went and stayed empty on several occasions. Though this is to be expected with all the stimuli surrounding the employees, and is competing for their attention. After all, you won’t hire a server who doesn’t like the “nerd” culture. How embarrassing to have them not know the difference between the tenth or eleventh doctor? Or the difference between a scimitar and a claymore. (Use that as a test to see if you should give this place a try.)
One of my biggest pet peeve at a bar, pub, lounge, or any place that advertises itself as a drinking establishment is single stall washrooms. When you drink you need to go, and you don’t want to have to dance around and wait for one person to be done, one at a time. At least here there was a hallway of framed zombie pictures to look at and a wall to lean on. However I never made it to the toilet, as I couldn’t stand the estimated 10 minute before me.
Would I come back? – Yes. Not for the food, but for a movie in the right seat and drinking with a large group. As I mentioned earlier, I would like to come back for a night of di rolling and drinking. $5 per shot isn’t that bad and I want to win that “critical hit”. Would I recommend it? – Yes. As much as this was just a “flash in the pan” (to quote my guest, Teal) I suggest coming for the decor, the atmosphere, and the buzz you get when discussing interests with like minds. There is plenty to look and more to talk about. With games, books, and movies you can be sure to leave entertained. And I don’t think there is any other taverns in Vancouver to experience all this at. Don’t deny your cravings.