Lately, I've been ranting and raving about the restaurants we visit after hockey. Why? Well, once again, I personally believe that a good ol' beer and some hot wings makes more sense than a bowl of wonton noodles. Hey, don't get me wrong here. I love wonton noodles! But that would seem more appropriate after a game of Mahjong or something. So my mission was to find a place near the our rink for some real Canadian eats and of course, barley sandwiches! For some reason or another, all this time, we have never visited Black Bear Pub located within Lynn Valley Centre. It's literally only 5 minutes away from the rink! Best of all, it's open past midnight. Now, in the daytime, the pub is pretty easy to spot due to its "house-like" appearance which stands out among the newer retail outlets. However, at night, that's another story... Most of us eventually made our way there; but Emilicious took the scenic route and was on her way to West Van before she U-turned it back. Good thing though. As Milhouse explained, if it weren't for her misadventures in North Van, we would've left. You see, the place was packed solid. The fact she took so long allowed tables to become available. While we were waiting in the parking lot, Kim drove out to deliver some goodies from Seattle. That was much appreciated and we snacked on Top Pots while we were waiting. I tried to convince Kim to stay for some eats; but he was too tired from driving from Seattle. He refused food! What has the world come too?
As mentioned earlier, I wanted beer and some hot wings after hockey. And I did exactly that. I started with 1lb of Hot and Dry Wings. No, they were not dry and hot at the same time; rather I got half and half. For me, these wings were a fail. They were fried far too long and became hard and tough. Too bad really since the dry wings had a nice salt & pepper coating. Now if that wasn't enough, I also got The Matterhorn Ostrich Burger. You see, I played back-to-back hockey games and I didn't eat dinner. Loaded with mushrooms, bacon and Swiss, the burger was quite good. Naturally, the meat was not exactly juicy due to the lean ostrich meat. However, it was nicely charred and all the other ingredients made up for it. Despite it's attractive appearance, I was not a fan of the Fat Boy Fries. They were not crispy due to their thickness. I'm sure someone likes them, it just ain't me.
Unlike most pubs, the menu here has an Asian influence and I dared Boss Woman to try one of those items. She obliged and went for the Indo Curry Pasta. It actually consisted of udon (as the pasta) and veggies with a spicy coconut curry sauce topped with chopped peanuts and cilantro. Naan was served on the side. Surprisingly, she liked it (she prefers Asian food and I didn't think she'd like this fusion thing). The sauce was noticeably spicy and flavourful. Emilicious ordered something more conventional in the Pulled Pork Sandwich. Although there was plenty of tender pork and crunchy coleslaw to potentially make this a good sandwich, there was not enough BBQ sauce. Thus, the sandwich was quite dry.
Milhouse gave the Meatloaf a go. It came with garlic mashed potatoes and veggies. Although the meat was a little dry; there was enough great tasting gravy to make up for it. He found the mashed potatoes to be light and fluffy. The veggies were fully cooked while retaining some crunchiness. Bear, totally in his element since the place is named Black Bear, didn't go for the obvious choices. He intentionally stayed away from the Naked Bear Burger since he thought that would scare everyone in itself. However, he did go for the Bear Cheese Bread. Advertised as a blend of 3 cheeses with herbs, this was your typical cheese bread. Although it did have a lot of cheese. He also had the Dry Garlic Ribs which again were your standard dry ribs. It came with an obscene amount of plum sauce which didn't really go with the ribs, in my opinion. Eaten plain, the ribs were good. Not too dry and it was seasoned with just enough salt.
Now, as circumstances presented itself, I found myself at the Black Bear Pub again 4 days later. Well, that was a great opportunity to take a picture of the exterior since there was light out. Furthermore, I could try the one dish that I was eying; but didn't get a chance to order last time. I was quite curious how a $10.00 bowl of Clam Chowder would look like. Turns out that it wasn't as big as I envisioned. For me, $10.00 should buy you a whole lot of chowder. Instead, I found a bowl of soup that is no bigger than any other bowl of soup I've had. I did like the fresh mussels used as garnish, it added a touch of class. However, most of the soup was made up of big chunks of potatoes with some clams here and there. Don't get me wrong here, the soup was not bad. It was creamy with a nice "seafood" taste and the potatoes were excellent. Just not worth $10.00. Viv ended up with the Pesto Chicken Club. As evidenced in the picture, the roll was toasted thoroughly resulting in a crispy product. Viv thought the chicken was both moist and flavourful. All of the other fresh ingredients resulted in a solid sandwich. As for her side salad, it was a fresh side salad...
So, by virtue of having the opportunity of visiting the Black Bear twice within 4 days, gives me a clear overall picture of the place. First and foremost, it is nice place to hang out after an event or just to grab a bite with some friends. Of course, barley sandwiches go well with all the food here. And about the food, it is generally okay with a few misses. Of course, with a menu that dares to go beyond the usual pub fare, that will happen. However, that gives more choice to those who don't merely want items that come out of the deep-fryer. The only thing that could be better is the service. Nothing inherently wrong; but it is a bit sparse when it gets busy.
- Diverse menu
- Nice place to hang out
- Plenty of parking
- A tad on the more expensive side
- Food ain't bad; but not great either
- Sparse service