Monday, July 16, 2012

They Lost my Lemonade at Mahony & Sons (Burrard Landing)

Mahony & Sons Burrard Landing on Urbanspoon Even if you allow for kilted female servers in an Irish pub (as not just the Scots have kilts, but so do the Irish) there is something that strikes me as just plain odd about an Irish pub that prominently serves up Thai food--including a Thai Panang Chicken Curry that our server said had won their chef an award.
Still, if the food is tasty, who cares, right? Well, let's see...

Mahony & Sons is a large pub/restaurant/sports bar on the facing-the-water-and-mountains side of the new Vancouver Convention Centre (West), a view shared by a closed-remarkably-early-on-weekends Club 16 that gobbles up a huge chunk of waterfront. Especially on sunny days, you can expect the place to be abuzz with drop-ins as well as larger parties, so don't expect to find a quiet nook where you can feasibly have a conversation with anyone who's not sitting adjacent to you. Around 9pm on Saturday, there was live music which was blasted through the speakers all over the place, and conversation got even trickier. If you have a smallish party of 6 or so, try to reserve patio seating if you want to have reasonable conversation. Besides, the view will be better unless you're ogling the mini-skirt-uniformed hotties that work there.

The layout is mostly bar space and movable tables, but some small reservations (like ours for 9 persons) can end up in a little nook here or there. Our nook had an okay view of the mountains because we were on bar-stool style seating around tall tables, and therefore could look over the other patrons on "regular" chairs. Also, there was a television embedded into the wall at one end of the two-table arrangement, so everyone just had to look to one side to watch TV if they wanted to. That evening the TV was on, but behind shutters (huh?), and in any case we were there for the company, so I think we were all glad to not have the distraction.

Other than the reasonable view of the mountains, another plus of having a little nook to ourselves was the relative privacy for group, which was sometimes noisy with conversation and laughter, so I suppose it was for the protection of other patrons as well. However, for unclear reasons, we saw more servers apparently designated for other zones than our server. Unless we went hunting around for her, we were essentially at the mercy of whenever she came by to check on us. There was pretty much no water-refilling or drink re-orders or the like. There were male bussers/kitchen staff helping with delivering food from the kitchen, but they didn't really help with tending tables or topping water.
I'm wary of blaming our server for neglecting us especially since those servers I did see were pretty much perpetually flying from one place to the next, clearly busy. So assuming our server was just as busy, then I'm actually inclined to give her a bonus point for always being cheery with us even though we did flounder around with ordering at the start.
If our experience was any indication, then for such a decidedly busy place, I think they could definitely add a couple of servers for the summer to keep up with the pace.

I was the first to arrive of our group, and being an non-drinker, things got off to a pretty dull start. I didn't want to go with peppermint tea yet again, so I tried to order a ginger beer, which seemed to be a reliable non-alcoholic standby at places like Nuba at the Waldorf Hotel, The Greedy Pig, and Black + Blue.
Nope, no ginger beer.
The server suggested I look at their list of non-alcoholic beers and proceeded to flip through their drinks menu for it, but apparently the list was not there (or no longer there), so she went off to check. Came back shortly -- we're out of non-alcoholic beer.
She next suggested cranberry and soda water. But isn't soda water bitter? I just wasn't good with bitter stuff (and why drink bitter water?), so I passed and told her I'd figure something out later.
After two more from our group arrived, I gave it another try. Did they have freshly squeezed fruit juice? (Okay, this one was me being really hopeful, I admit). Nope. But they had various fruit juices and pop. I went with a lemonade.
I was relieved, the waitress was relieved.
Funny thing though: It never came.

Everyone finally arrived, we floundered with the menu and whether we were going to share, and finally got down to ordering. I suppose we were being awfully waffly and frustrating, but that's the sort of thing that can happen when you're a group of 8 and you barely know each other since you're all part of a dining group with no regulars. Fortunately, our server continued to be friendly and patient with us.
  • Mahony Platter - $24.95 - calamari, dry ribs, chicken tenders, fresh cooked potato chips, focaccia parmesan bread, spicy cayenne chicken wings
    • One platter for four persons was what the server recommended. It's an awfully small platter, so the recommendation was okay.
    • The price at basically $25 is pretty painful. Basically there were about four pieces of ribs, chicken, bread, and wings.
    • Typically when I think of focaccia, I think of a round bread that's pretty thick and topped with herbs or something. Here it's thin. Looks like flatbread, only even thinner than that. We're talking barely two millimeters. Only the top piece had any dusting of green herbs on it. The rest had nothing.
    • Not sure how the kitchen is organized, but I'm fairly sure there's some mass production and already-made stock that's assembled onto the plate, because the items weren't really hot when they arrived. Plus the cheese on the bread had clearly cooled and solidified so that they tended to fall off.
    • Three types of dip -- Chipotle mayo, tzatizi, and I think honey mustard.
    • Standard fare here. Not badly done, but also nothing worth writing home about and not worth the money, especially for the portion you get.
  • Papaya Salad - $16.95 (with chicken) or $18.95 (with prawns) - gingered pecans, egg roll crisps, fresh papaya, red peppers, cucumbers, romaine, honey garlic dressing (picture)
    • This was a bit steep for the price but pretty decent tasting.
    • Get a spoon. No, it didn't come with a spoon. And when we finally got spoons, they were soup spoons (does this place not have regular spoons?).
    • Except for the large slices of cucumber, everything is pretty much just diced in. It's cold and fresh-tasting. Portion is moderate and could possibly make a light dinner.
    • I wasn't really paying attention, but you have to choose either chicken or prawns. Neither is an optional add-on. So when I passed on both, we got basically a vegetarian salad with neither at the chicken price. Oops.
  • Irish Stew - $19.95 - slow simmered lamb shank and vegetables in Guinness demi-glaze, mashed potatoes (picture)
    • Most of it is the thick, sweet, salty demi-glace and you definitely need to pair it with the mashed potatoes when you're eating it, to temper the saltiness.
    • The lamb shank is about 1/3rd bone. The size is about the same as a turkey drumstick.
    • Salty, but delicious.
  • Thai Panang Curry - $17.95 (with chicken) or $19.95 (with jumbo prawns) - red coconut curry seasoned with lemon grass, lime leaves, Thai bird's eye chilies, on jasmine rice. Mild, medium, or hot. (picture)
    • I opted for prawns (about 4, each fairly large) and "hot". It was spicy with some kick to it, but I would probably have classed it as "medium" spicy. There was also a bitterness to that.
    • The curry comes already poured into the rice, so you don't actually see any curry sauce. It's all absorbed and tossed into the rice.
  • Mushroom Mascarpone Ravioli - $16.95 - with light lemon cream pinot grigio sauce, amorosa tomatoes and garlic foccacia.
    • I got just a taste of this (i.e., one square of ravioli). Small portion for the price, but good flavour here.
  • Smoked Salmon Semolina Thin Crust Pizza - $17.50 - fresh ricotta cheese sauce, fontina cheese, crispy fried capers, red onion, chopped dill (picture)
    • With thin crust pizzas, you can't really hope for a lot of toppings. It just doesn't work that way. You do, however, hope for a good assembly of toppings. This pizza would probably have worked out fine in taste if not for the sad crust.
    • It's thin-crust, but barely. There's no thick outer ring of crust, but the thickness of the pizza crust elsewhere is actually pretty standard, if not slightly more.
    • There's a salty taste to the edge crust which is probably a dusting of some kind of sea salt.
    • The smoked salmon here is sliced thin. I know what I said earlier about lots of toppings, but the salmon was really, really, thin.
    • For what you get, this is sad and overpriced. If you insist on paying extra for thin-crust pizza, get it somewhere else, such as from any of the numerous Neapolitan pizza places all over Vancouver, such as The Bibo or Campagnolo. You'll pay a comparable (or maybe even slightly less) price but get better taste and experience. Or for thin crust but not-authentic-Italian pizza, Urban Fare Shangri-La delivers a superior pizza at better portions.
  • Mahony Sundae Sampler - $8.25 (picture)
    • Three cups of sundaes that seemed to melt awfully quickly into an unappetizing soup, sad to say. The three types are from the three sundaes normally available:
      • Coconut Mango Gelato - with gingered pecans and fresh pineapple
      • Grand Marnier Strawberry Cheesecake Gelato
      • Chocolate - vanilla bean gelato, frangelico chocolate sauce, grand marnier strawberries, cashews and caramel
    • The sundaes look nice but overall aren't particularly interesting.
    • The portion you get for the price seems quite all right as far as having dessert in a restaurant. Obviously you can get much more premium ice cream than that by picking up a tub in a supermarket, so you might want to compare it that way and choose something else more interesting instead. If you insist on having ice cream, I would instead recommend a short walk up to Bella Gelateria and getting a cone there. Less ice cream, but better quality from a dedicated and award-winning gelato maker, plus more interesting flavours.
  • Chocolate Mousse Cupcake - $6.95 - house-made brownie cupcake topped with a duo of milk chocolate mousse and crème de menthe infused white chocolate mousse (picture)
    • The "cupcake" is about really half the size of a cupcake. The upper half is the milk chocolate mousse.
    • As far as brownies go, this one is quite soft, very much like a chocolate cake. A bit disappointing, but overall the dessert is quite nice for chocolate lovers.
    • Not a lot of mintiness in the white chocolate mousse, sadly. Would have given this a refreshing touch. Still, it was pretty tasty with its deep chocolatey-ness, and the price was OK.
Except the desserts, prices seemed somewhat higher than they should be, maybe about $2-$4 more. You're paying for the location and the view, so it's hard to quibble unless you're a local and get the view for free just by living here.

My lemonade never did come. I wanted to keep it quiet and see if it would ever come or if it would still end up on my bill, but about two hours in, one of my fellow diners snitched to our server and she brought me a weak lemonade. No apologies for the oversight, which I thought surprising (had we finally exhausted her patience and goodwill?) until I saw the bill, which listed TWO lemonades at $3.50 each.
Apparently she thought she'd delivered the first lemonade, and the one that came to the table was a second order. At this point we explained to her what had happened and that really, there had just been the one lemonade. She accepted this and went to tweak the bill, but came back saying she couldn't. Instead, she handed me $3.50 in cash.
There was the possiblity that she just didn't want to re-do all the billing (since she'd also split the two appetizer platters between all 8 diners), but I thought it was odd that she just gave me $3.50 in cash, so when she came back with the machine to process our credit cards, I again reiterated that we weren't trying to fool her, and that I'm sure she didn't intentionally forget the lemonade I had initially ordered; and I wanted to know if she were personally liable for the missing lemonade.
She said yes.
So it was coming out of her paycheque, as it were.

What now?
On the one hand, I only got one lemonade. I would have been fine with one, or even none, but here I was being charged for two. On the other hand, I was partially at fault for not inquiring about it earlier when it didn't come. Although it's possible that she might have rung it up already and one phantom lemonade would still be on the bill.
Still, I didn't want her to be on the hook for it especially as waiters aren't exactly well-paid to begin with (plus our group had been there for over three hours), so I gave her back her $3.50. The bill came with tax and tip included, and I paid the full amount.

1 comment:

  1. Given the write up about this pub, perhaps the blogger should try and enjoy life, rather than just write (whine) about it .