The Crow and Gate Pub 2313 Yellow Point Road Nanaimo District, BC (250) 722-3731
In 1972, the government of BC relaxed truly some truly Victorian liquor laws to allow neighbourhood pubs to operate for the first time in the province. The Crow and Gate made local history when it became the very first of such establishments. Jack Nash, Sussex native and the former owner, built this place as a labour of love — importing timber beams, furnishings, windows, memorabilia, and other objects to provide the raw material to build a truly authentic southern English pub. He provided a sort of template of how neighbourhood drinking holes could be built and run. Soon it became a local favourite.
Since then, however, the big factory breweries such as Molson’s and Labatt’s have managed to use their hegemony to infest just about every neighbourhood in the province with cookie cutter pubs serving their swill. Things are definitely getting better now in the urban areas with the recent ascent of modern microbreweries and “gastropubs”….but for the rest of the province, Big Brewery mediocrity still rules.
London Pub 700 Main St. Vancouver, BC (604) 684-7732
A year ago this week I was in London, UK. So fitting that I should visit a gastropub that has taken that city’s name in its title. Nestled in a restored corner space of a brick building on the southern edge of Chinatown along Main Street, this still relatively new establishment seems to have a carved out a niche for itself with a loyal and locally residing customer base, judging by how busy and loud it got during the course of my stay. Large, spacious, things to do like some pool tables, video games and big screens to watch sports, it has none of that commercially produced feel of say a Boston Pizza, but rather feel just like the work of some folks who wanted to create a place to hang out, have some suds and meet up with friends for some pub grub. My kind of joint…
The London Pub while first and foremost a watering hole, did have some food on the menu to peruse from and with nothing in my stomach after a long day of work, we figured something to munch on would be good. Looking to split something more substantial the the listing of smaller appetizers shown, we opted to try one of their pizza’s, 11-inch I believe. The barbecue chicken seemed to be the most appealing and substantial of the lot, so that’s what we ordered from the personable young lass who was assigned to our table with the high stools. Fairly chewy and softer textured dough and on the sweeter side with the sauce, gourmet pizza it is not, but for someone who was in need of some sustenance, it fit the bill just fine. Size-wise, more than enough for the pair of us.
Hudsons Canadian Tap House (Campus location)
11113 87 Avenue
An impromptu rush out to catch the start of the World Cup match on the first Friday of the tournament led myself and a buddy to a nearby pub on the University of Alberta campus. Funny, I used to remember this location as another drinking hole, ironically called The Library in years gone by. It was once we stepped inside that I understood it was part of the Hudsons chain – the first outlet on Whyte Avenue another former stomping ground on yours truly in yesteryear. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but see now that its grown to five location in Edmonton and also one in Calgary.
Sticking with the Canadian theme of this establishment, I opted for a standard domestic draught to wet the whistle as we settled in to watching the game. We were stuck in the basement however which resulted in a very dark space. My pal enjoyed the views of the attractive, perky, young waitress however, that seem to be the norm of places like this and she was working hard for a big tip. Continue reading →
The 5 Tuns Pub & Kitchen
Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport
(020) 8283 5065
Hours: 5:30am – last departing flight
And so I was on my way back home to Canada…
Heathrow Airport follows the rigid mold of too many poorly thought out transportation hubs – overpriced and bad food, many tacky souvenir shops and of course long, long lines. Now normally I’d ease the pain and boredom that comes with waiting for my flight by either a) finding a comfy chair in the Star Alliance lounge or b) hitting the bar. But since I was flying with BA, option a. was out of the realm of possibility so off I went in a quest for the nearest place to get some suds. Unfortunately, the week of very little sleep had gotten me down and I was afraid I’d get real sleepy drinking alone and it made me reconsider what I was doing.
With its welcoming feel and design, the 5 Tuns Pub & Kitchen on the top floor level of Terminal 5 was my chosen place to hunker down after my taxi ride in. I’d asked a security guard what my options were and this seemed the best of the lot. Frankly, there really isn’t much choice for food and drink outside of the security barrier at the airport where you can still gather with those not going on flights. There’s a couple more inside past all the screening but not that extraordinary in their offerings and more expensive since they have you trapped inside. With a football game on the tele, I figured it would do as I arrived with time to spare and needed to get me a bite to eat before dealing with the prolonged formalities of checking in.
Quickly now, what comes to your mind when you hear the words French Cuisine?
For me, fine dining, regional, and an assortment of French translations for common ingredients that are clearly the fading remnants of my eight plus years of childhood education in the language come rushing out at me.
Now do the same for say, Italian or Chinese. I’m sure strong images pop into your mind, mainly of the favorable variety, including some great dishes or full meals you’ve had associated with the countries from which they came.
101-403 North Road
Yangnyeom Chicken is something I’ve discovered previously at Mexican Chicken Hof, and had neglected to follow up on at another nearby establishment that I was aware served it as well, until now. Honey’s Bistro is literally just up the street on the other side of Lougheed Highway, and I would say is a more visually common setting of what one might expect of a Korean Hof, albeit a slightly dated one. Part western, part eastern, it strides that unusual balance between these two worlds, though Honey’s leans slightly more to the west, and my guess is that it used to formerly be a more Canadian-style pub or eating house. The main thing though that gives the Korean-ness of it away are the flat panel displays on the walls, showing popular Korean tv and music programs.
Despite already haven eaten dinner nearby (a future post), I decided to pick up a box of fried chicken wings and drumettes- minus the sauce – to go. I wanted to first taste their chicken straight-up before considering coming back for the Yangnyeom version.Not surprisingly, I ended up eating some of it when I got home (and the rest the next day) despite having had dinner already. So much for dieting.
Black Diamond 153 Beale Street
Memphis, TN 38103
When you think Beale Street, most people think Blues. BB King. Smoky dive bars, neon lights. In actual fact, it is crowded with tourist bars, clubs, and a lot of tourists. Except for the Black Diamond.
We didn’t plan on coming here. Our plan was to go to Dyer’s for some fried burgers. But they were closed. And an impromptu torrential downpour meant we had to seek shelter, especially when caught without an umbrella – a bad decision in Memphis in general. We found a place that was close, and not overly crowded. “Black Diamond” written in neon. Sure, why not.
Plastic chairs and dirty tables. Locals who didn’t appreciate their space being invaded. Smoking indoors (ack!). There were no blues, but there was football. And beer. Cold beer.
People would expect places like the Black Diamond to have bad service – well surprisingly enough, it was quite good. The server was friendly, and efficient. And he brought beer, menus, and took our orders. No complaints.