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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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