Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crow and Gate (Nanaimo)

Address: 2313 Yellow Point Rd, Cedar (just oustide of Nanaimo)
Phone: (250) 722-3731
Price: ~$10 for a lunch "pub plate"
Notes: first neighbourhood pub in BC, EXTREMELY authentically British, small local beer selection. 

This pub has been mentioned to us so many times by so many people that I was certain we were going to be disappointed when we actually finally got a chance to go. As we wound our way down the country roads away from civilization we started to wonder if we about to become main characters in the plot of a british TV murder mystery.

When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find the place Packed on a Wednesday at 1. In fact, the cars were starting to spill out of the main car park (translation: parking lot) and onto the long drive leading out to the road.

Upon doing my research (aka reading the history section of their website) I discovered that the Crow and Gate was the first pub in BC to receive a neighbourhood pub license. You would think makes it very old, but remember that Canada had (arguably has) weird liquor licensing laws and it wasn't until the early 70s that neighbourhood pubs were allowed. For an interesting read on this topic the Vibrant Victoria forums have a great thread about the history of drinking establishments in Victoria.

The word of this review will be authentic. This pub could easily have been plucked out of the English country side and plopped down in Canada and unless you noticed the trees are the wrong kind you wouldn't know any different. The lighting is dark (as evidenced by the terrible photos below), the plates the very authentic food (x on a plate with dressing on a bed of lettuce, some potato salad and a bun) is served on are blue & white patterned. It's bar service only. Even the perfectly manicured lawn with a duck pond is country pub authentic!

Okay, that's not quite true: the bathrooms were too clean, far too large and well stocked with toilet paper to be truly authentic. This is a quibble, I suppose.

June 29, 2011
As I mentioned above, the service is mostly bar service. If you're unfamiliar with bar service, what that means is you order your food and drink at the bar, but it's brought to your table. I think the idea is it cuts down on the number of staff needed to serve a large number of people at once, although there was no lack of people checking on us, clearing our plates or offering dessert.

June 29, 2011
I opted for an IPA brewed in Nanaimo, and my bill says it was from the Redbrick brewery (or was the Red Brick IPA from some unknown brewery) however I can't seem to find them/it on the google. I was pleasantly surprised to discover an IPA that wasn't so hoppy, in fact it was almost a little bit on the barrel aged side of beer flavouring. My partner-in-food-and-life had the Phillips Ginger Beer on tap which was strikingly good, and I was jealous. Will have to seek that out in Victoria! Sadly, aside from a few other Phillis beers that rounded out their selection of local stuff but they did have a pretty significant selection of British beers which was nice to see as it added to the authenticity piece. 

Bratwurst Pub Plate via

This was my partner-in-food-and-life's choice. I'm always a little bit leery of sausages, but the bite I had of this was quite delicious! The cheese was very authentic again, nicely flavoured and Not orange (cheddar in the UK is white). The salad was fine, and the potato salad was tasty! 

Steak & Mushroom Pie via

I was somewhat disappointed by this. It looked super tasty - but I wish I'd read the review from fellow food blogger from Your Restaurant Sucks before I orded it instead of after. 

In a way it was authentic - or at least, authentically war-time cuisine. I was looking for mushrooms, and I think I found one... it was sliced paper thin. There was lots of gravy, but it wasn't as flavourful as I had hope which I suppose is (say it with me now) authentic. The pastry itself was quite lovely - which is the part I'm not always so fussy about. 

Bread Pudding with Brandy Sauce via

Cor blimey! This was a Delight! Especially the brandy sauce! I felt a bit tipsy afterwards (since I'd also had a beer), had to take the dog for an extra long little walk before getting back in the car. The bread was lovely, the raisins were booze-soaked and the overall sensation was lovely and left me wanting more. 

There were a few things missing from the menu, namely a jacket potato. Jacket potato plus beans, or cheese, or tuna etc. is such a classic british lunch menu thing (at least where/when I lived there) that I'm shocked it's not included.

There was also no bangers and mash, but we didn't see the dinner menu, I imagine it lives there.


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