Monday, February 4, 2013

Marshmellows Not Fluffy at Tap & Barrel

Tap & Barrel on Urbanspoon
Tap & Barrel has a lot of plusses going for it despite being away from the main dining zones in Vancouver. For one thing, it's more or less the only game in town in/near the Olympic Village. It's classed as a restaurant, so it officially closes at midnight although private parties may linger a bit after. Though it looks very much like a sports bar on the inside, what with so many televisions on the go, it is not a pub and cannot serve alcohol without food. It's also got a gorgeous view of the water, day or night. There is a heated patio upstairs, and overall a huge amount of floorspace.

For my final Dine Out Vancouver 2013 outing this year, I had wanted to try Tap & Barrel because it had, among other things, a "Cheesecake parfait - bacon, [carmel] sauce and pretzels". When I looked further at their regular menu, however, I became intrigued by various items involving peanut butter and bacon that I ended up just ordering a few things from the regular menu. I have to say that although I was disappointed by my order, I didn't try the "normal stuff" like steak or burgers, and they probably do those very decently. We did have one order of steak frites, and that came out very nicely.

jumbo wood stone oven baked pretzel ($8) with rock salt, house mustard; plus chipotle peanut butter & bacon dip (+$2)
  • The last time I had a pretzel was at the 1927 Lounge at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, and that was just a small loaf of pretzel-style bread and didn't even have a pretzel shape. Here, you get a nice pretzel shape. It came out fresh and hot, and the rock salt didn't fall off so easily here. On its own, this was a pretty tasty pretzel.
  • The house mustard for dipping works just fine, but I was curious about the chipotle peanut butter & bacon dip. This was a very soft peanut butter, and had small bits of bacon in it. As dips go, it was actually pretty hard to scoop it out with a chunk of pretzel. Instead, it seemed to melt aside and elude attempts to be spooned out, so use a knife or fork to get it onto your pretzel chunk. There's a goodly amount of dip provided, so be generous.
  • Although our lovely and pleasant server Alyssa assured us that there indeed was chipotle in it, I honestly thought they'd forgotten it. No hint of heat or any visible chipotle. For that matter, although there were clearly chunks of bacon, that flavour didn't make itself known. For $2 extra -- bringing this order to a total of $10! -- I basically got peanut butter to spread on my pretzel. Overpriced, sorry.
  • If you feel paying $8 for a pretzel that's about the volume of maybe 2 to 3 dinner rolls is fair, this is a pretty decent appy. There is also a beer and cheddar dip (also for $2 extra) which we didn't try.
infamous sticky yam fries ($8) with burnt marshmallow fluff
  • This turned out to be a large plate of decent yam fries with marshmellow melted on them. Nothing fluffy here. Just marshmellow goop adding excessive sweetness to sweet potato fries and probably an extra $2 to the price, bringing it up to $8.
peanut butter pie ($7) chocolate sauce, roasted peanuts
  • One more or less regulation sized slice of pie. Clear peanut buttery flavour without being too much like peanut butter. 
  • Tasty, but just a bite or two and you're probably done unless you absolutely love it for some reason. The thing is, although this was a decently tasty dessert, it has a pretty heavy feel to it. Imagine eating a spoonful of peanut butter with nothing else: How fun is that? If you order this, get a couple of friends to help you, and/or get some sort of tangy drink to go with it.
steak frites ($21) 7oz certified angus flatiron, horseradish chimichurri, sea salt fries
  • Not my order but I did get to try a bite of this.
  • Nicely done steak, really decent fries.
  • The horseradish chimichurri sauce was a real winner and really helped with eating the steak and fries. Tiny bit of heat combined with an interesting spiced flavour.
JJ Leaf spiced camomile tea ($3?) A warming blend of chamomile, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, licorice and hops. Floral and sweet with a light spicy finish.
  • Camomile is normally (for me) a very weak tea, so I figured whatever they spiced it with would make it interesting. Wrong. Still a weak tea. Whatever they spiced it with didn't come through at all. And I'm sure our server didn't make a mistake and put in the wrong tea bag because the label on it said "spiced camomile".

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