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Stanley’s Bar and Grill, #poutinechallengeyvr

I was on assignment as one of the judges for Vancouver Foodster’s annual Poutine Challenge. I always appreciate the opportunity to participate in such events like this, as it brings me to restaurants that I might not otherwise think to visit.

Case in point: Stanley’s Bar & Grill. I didn’t know what to expect from a tourist destination, but was supremely impressed by the whole experience. I didn’t even know that you could have a meal in Stanley Park, let alone such a spectacular one out of a heritage building, with a view of the green and water in the distance.

Had it been a warmer day, we would have asked to sit on the patio, instead, it was by the fire place, inside. The crackle from a good stoking really set the mood and added to the rich ambiance. One of the only places I know where you can enjoy a live camp fire during the ban.

We visited for brunch, and I liked the idea of a boozy coffee to start the day, so ordered the Spanish Coffee. Worth mentioning is that they also have mulled wine available this season.

The Spanish Coffee has rum, kamora, sugar rim, chantilly cream, and cherry. It looks more like a dessert than cocktail with the sugar rim, cream to sweeten, and the literal “cherry on top”. Other than that, it was exactly as expected. Bitter coffee masked by the kick of a full bodied rum.

For a lighter option my guest had Stanley’s Spiked Lemonade made from titos vodka, fresh squeezed lemon, simple syrup, and soda. This was a very nostalgic option, much like a country fair style lemonade, utilizing a whole half lemon. And you really can’t taste the 2oz of liqueur in this.

Next we were treated to an amuse bouche, which showed the creativity and skill of the kitchen. This wasn’t like anything on the menu, but offered what could have been, if they went a finer dining direction over the elevated bistro-feel that it is today. The chef sent out a Red Beet Tartare with salted egg yolk, on a crostini. This was a clever vegan take on what would have been raw beef. It has a similar look and texture, and seasoned like this, an adjacent taste. Although more tangy and fresh from the finely diced beets.

We started off with the reason what we were here: the Double Duck Poutine. Crispy golden fries topped with duck confit, pickled garlic scape, cheese curds, salted duck yolk, and duck gravy. And this entry is actually already a winner, winning 2023’s “La Poutine Week 2023”. We requested the gravy on the side for photo and video purposes, so it does normally come already dressed in it. I would suggest ordering more gravy on the side, to do like we did, and have essentially gravy stew. It was that delicious. The mound of fries were thick cut, but had the texture of tater tots: soft and mashed at the centre with crispy edges from their frying.

As is, it reminded me of a mashed potato bowl, especially with all that tender pulled duck meat on top and the bits of stringy cheese. I didn’t get much salted duck yolk though, not that I missed it. This is the first serving of poutine I looked forward to finishing as leftovers. After a reheating, poutine is never the same, but Stanley’s Double Duck Poutine held up, as the mashed potato bowl I described it to be.

Considering that their award winning poutine above was so good, we had to order another “winner” on their menu. This is the Royal Huntsman burger, and it is the winner for the Vancouver Foodster’s Best Burger Challenge 2023. House-made bison patty, royal blue stilton cheese, thick cut cajun hickory smoked wild boar bacon, apple chips, butter lettuce, tomato, and 40 creek bbq aioli; all between a charcoal brioche bun. Typically served with fries, but we were all fried up, so substituted it for some soup instead.

The presentation alone was striking. A black bun with contrasting white seeds. A double decker held in place by a steak knife. The patty was moist and not tough or dry as I was worried it would be. Crowned by thicker slices of caramelized bacon, soft butter lettuce that delivered on its name, and a soft potato bun that matched. The bacon was the kind that you can’t get at your local grocery store, but a custom butcher order. It and the bison meat were well highlighted by the blue cheese in the cream sauce. A mix of sweet barbecue and mildly spicy chipotle seasoning, with the distinct umami of the stilton kicking in towards the end.

This was a handful, but I always say that the best burgers are the messiest and leave you with funky breath. The “Huntsman” checked off both boxes.

Our side of soup was the Seafood Chowder, which is also available as a full serving, normally paried with a baguette. This is a creamy-style chowder with shellfish, steelhead, pacific cod, potato, chive, and crispy bacon. Just by look you could tell this was a well crafted chowder. Incredibly satisfying with plenty of ingredients and textures to sort though, offering you a comforting roasted quality. The crisped up bacon bits gave you a pop of salt and a meatier bite, on occasion. I could have easily finished a bowl. Probably the best chowder, and better than anything I have had in a long time.

And considering our brunch was all about comfort foods, I could not leave without trying their Oxtail Mac and Cheese. Cavatappi pasta evenly and generously coated in a gruyère and garlic cheese sauce, and finished with a persillade. As per Wikipedia, “ persillade” is a “sauce or seasoning mixture of parsley chopped together with seasonings: garlic, herbs, oil, and vinegar”.

But that wasn’t even the most impressive part, it was the two giant sections of ox tail headlining the plate. I thought it would be served with the meat removed from bone for easier eating. Because as is, prying meat from bone with utensils then teeth is a messy and complicated affair, but well worth it. My eyes were fully satiated with this plate. The Ox tail and Mac and Cheese were enjoyable separate, but together offered a nice contrast of sweeter meat and saltier cheesy pasta for another satisfying plate.

Once again I have the Vancouver Foodster to thank for introducing me to another great restaurant I can now recommend, that I would not otherwise know to visit. I was incredibly impressed by Stanley’s Grill from the heritage building, to the one of the kind park scenery, to all the parking available at cost. And inside, their real crackling fire, the friendly and courtesy staff, and neither last or least: all the amazing food that delivered. Not one thing missed the mark. I cannot recommend them more for your next date night or when looking for a place to impress your guest.

Stanley’s Bar and Grill
610 Pipeline Rd, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2
(604) 602-3088

1 thought on “Stanley’s Bar and Grill, #poutinechallengeyvr”

  1. An epic culinary adventure awaits! Thanks for inviting us to indulge in this mouthwatering challenge. Let’s savor every bite of delicious poutine and embrace the thrill of the competition!

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