Monday, June 25, 2012

Screened at the Door at The Irish Heather

Irish Heather on Urbanspoon It was 8:30pm Friday night. Rainy out and Gastown's very busy. From the outside, The Irish Heather looks dark and packed. It's a smaller space than where it used to be, narrow and deep (and without haunted bathrooms). There's a fellow outside with a clipboard and he asks if I have a reservation. When I tell him I'm part of a party meeting here for drinks, he checks his clipboard, then admits me.

I'm not usually out clubbing and pubbing so I can't admit to having seen a bouncer for the Irish Heather before. I chatted with him briefly and he says he's there to keep out the riff-raff. It's a busy enough place that he can diplomatically turn people away by saying it's full and reservations-only. He also says the Irish Heather is not a pub-crawl destination, and that's something he keeps an eye out for.

The Irish Heather's menu is more drinks than food, and everything's got a name, so it's the sort of place to go when you know what you like and what you're drinking. They have stainless steel martini glasses, but there's no guarantee they'll know how to mix more than what's on the cocktail menu: When one of our party tried to order a Cuban Cigar, the waitress looked apprehensive -- but happily they did produce one and the verdict was thumbs up.

The food smells like pretty standard pub fare, which is not exactly boring diner food, but it didn't excite anyone either. Our table saw Heather Fries, Beef Burgers, and Arugula Salad. The only thing that really piqued my curiosity was the Potted Salmon: "Our riff on the English potted shrimp. Poached & smoked wild salmon preserved under a layer of salted butter. Served with sliced [baquette] - $9"

Potted Salmon at the Irish Heather comes in one of those very small glass canning jars. The quantity of salmon you get is about 1-1/2 ping pong balls in volume, and it's tightly packed under about a half centimeter of "butter". There's a clump of bitter arugula on top (if you order the similar pork rillette, you get cornichons instead). It is served chilled and with not quite enough slices of (not toasted) baguette, unless

The butter is whiteish and has buttery flavour, but barely. It's also has a grainy texture. There's hardly any taste here whether you mix it in with anything or not, so I recommend just cracking open that top and discarding it.
The salmon is flaked, and moist and tender. It's marinated in a bit of herbs and veggies, and tastes quite good. Although it is preserved in butter, there isn't any buttery fattiness to it at all.

At $9, the Potted Salmon seems quite steep for what you get. If you got a can of flaked salmon and threw in some seasoning and mixed it up, you'd do reasonably well on your own taste-wise and you'd get a lot more salmon, all for probably a lot less than $9.

A pot of peppermint tea was $3.05. (Prices are before tax and tip).

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