Sunday, December 9, 2012

Yates Street Taphouse

Address: 759 Yates St.
Phone: (250) 590 5253
Price: ~$15 for a main
Notes: Straddling the divide between a chain & a local restaurant.

The Yates Street Taphouse just opened in the space that the Office has occupied for the last few years, across from the Odeon Theatre. I was kind of excited to see the ramp up to the opening... they installed 40 taps, the majority of them local, and boasted a few harder-to-find on tap versions of import beers. While plenty of pubs in Victoria feature copious taps of beer, but the value/quality proposition on the food in the majority of those places make me disinclined to visit regularly. I have my fingers crossed the  Taphouse can turn this around.

The decor is not too dissimilar from the former Office. There seem to be more booths, a larger bar and a little less of a feeling like you hadn't actually left work. The larger bar is beautiful, but the bar also sits between most of the room and the bathroom; they need to rethink a little where they seat people in order to ensure that after a few towers of beer it doesn't become too much of an obstacle course to pee.

The menu is solid, with plenty of delicious sounding appies, a great burger section, pizzas and a reasonable choice of pricier main courses.  It definitely has hit a good cross-section of the market, appealing with at least one something for everyone at our table during our recent visits... even people who I would consider selective eaters.

I had my suspicions that the staff that tried (and failed) to turn the Macaroni Grill into the Lucinas Taphouse were trying again, and my sleuthing proves I am correct. This makes sense; the vibe does kind of straddle the divide between a chain restaurant and a local haunt in much the same way Sauce does. The clientele seem to be pretty mixed at this point, however, so time will tell which niche they settle into. I think they would do well to decide if they want to be known for their own thing or become overflow from the Cactus Club etc. Obviously (if you have read even one more blog post of mine) you know that this isn't my style. However... if they're going to maintain the faux-pretentiousness and blonde waitress schtick to pull away some of that clientele but Actually manage to serve good, cooked-from-scratch food, have excellent service and decent prices I can't actually complain. Keep your fingers crossed...!

December 2, 2012

Taphouse Burger
After the raving from our friends about their burgers the other night, when another group of friends opted to come here again a few days later I knew what I had to try. I agree, this is a pretty delicious burger! They have the char down, and the toppings and bun were excellent. I really love that it comes with both fries and a caesar by default. The caesar was excellent, too. The fries still weren't the star... but they were seasoned better than the ones I had had a few days before. 

My partner-in-food-and-life opted for the gnocchi, just to switch things up a little. They were quite soft and fluffy, and although the initial sauciness of the presentation seemed odd it totally worked. Can't find the menu on to confirm, but it seemed like it was lobster broth. 

November 30, 2012

Tower of Beer
Tower of Beer
Somehow I had missed before our visit that the 'thing' at the Taphouse is these towers of beer. Part of me says this is awesome, as it reminds me a bit of stories of European beerfests, but part of me has alarm bells ringing in my head of cheap chain-esque gimmick. Still, the server sold us on the special beer, the Stormchaser from VIB, for only $16. 

My only complaint is that if you are only going to order 1 or 2 towers, the 5 or so pints that the thing dispenses is kind of an awkward number unless you are a) a couple who plans to drink a lot or b) a group of exactly 5. This reminds me of when you go for sushi as a couple and 5 of something arrives on the plate and then there's the awkward fighting over who gets the last one. Thankfully... beer is easier to split than food. I wonder if serving the tower with sleeves instead of full pint glasses might make more logistical sense. (Or maybe I am offering an insight into just how deep-seated my need for everything to be equal goes...)

I was intrigued to try this calamari after seeing it came not only with deep-fried jalapenos, but also had been marinated in sriracha sauce. It arrived not nearly as spicy as I had expected, but quite delicious! The deep-fry was crispy and salty. We agreed that they could have sold the deep-fried jalapenos as a side dish alone, they were quite delicious! 

Over/under salting was a bit of a theme in our meal... however, I'm not super worried about that given how recently they had opened and the fact this is a super quick fix! 

Chicken Strips
Chicken Strips
As my main course I decided the chicken strips at $10.50 sounded good. I was shocked when they arrived and I basically had two chicken whole breasts on my plate! Not only that, but they were hand-breaded with spices that reminded me of thanksgiving stuffing. I ended up taking half of it home for lunch the next day. 

I really hope they can keep those portion sizes and prices up, because if this is the bar they are setting, they're setting it pretty high, and I'm going to be pretty disappointed if I go back and order it next time and only get the standard 3 wimpy strips you get other places... 

Innis & Gunn on tap
Innis & Gunn
Alright, to be totally honest the fact that they have this beer on tap is one of the reasons why I was so excited to visit. Although it's a bit ambitious and sweet in pint-form instead of wee bottle form, it's still one of my favourite import beers.

December 2, 2012
Although this server didn't have as much spice and sparkle as the server a few days before we certainly had no complaints, and it was shockingly tight for how little time the restaurant has been open!

November 30, 2012
I have to say, our sever this evening set a whole new bar for 'best service.' She was friendly, funny, and remarkably finessed at the casual up-sell. When we asked about the towers of beer, she covered a gap in her knowledge about how many pints they served by joking "all I know is it's more than a pitcher for less money, which is all I think you need to know!" At the end of the meal, when she arrived with the bill to discover we were wavering about if we wanted to keep drinking she quickly snapped it back and returned with samplers of the bellini.  I kind of wish I could hire her as my personal server to follow me around from restaurant to restaurant so I never have to have shitty service again...

Yates Street Taphouse Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon