"Another chain restaurant???", exclaimed Emilicious when I suggested Toby's in North Van. Hey, call it a combination of curiousity and convenience since it was literally only 5 minutes from the ice rink. Imagine that, eating in North Van, when we play hockey in North Van. Novel concept. Okay, back to the chain restaurant comment. It is true that there are much better choices, but sometimes, for a larger group and variety of food, chain restaurants serve a purpose. With that in mind, we went in with lowered expectations.
Another reason we picked the place was its proximity to the Arc'Teryx sale. While some were shopping, we headed to Toby's first. Being the hungry people we are, Milhouse and I got some Crispy Dry Ribs to tide us over. Unfortunately, it took nearly 30 minutes to arrive. Anyways, these were indeed crispy and dry - possibly a touch too dry. They were lightly dusted with salt & cracked pepper. It was served with some sort of sweet and sour sauce. As for our other eats, we shared 4 plates with Emilicious and Lionel Hutz. We started with the Celtic Mussels in garlic white wine cream sauce. Although every mussel was open, the meat was not buttery (more meaty firm). As for the sauce, it was definitely creamy and flavourful, but too much salt was used.
Next up, we had the Guinness Pot Pie (since it was pie day!). Sadly, it was not really a pot pie (with an actual pie crust) as it was mostly a stew with a piece of puff pastry on top. With that being said, the stew consisting of braised beef, Guinness gravy, onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and peas was thick and rich, however, it was also quite salty. Served on the side was 2 scoops of garlic and kale mashed potatoes. I liked the crispy kale chips as they provided a nice crunch to the soft chunky mash. Continuing on the same theme, we had the Guinness Cheese Burger with a lamb and beef patty, lettuce, tomato, onions and Guinness cheddar & mustard on brioche. The meaty patty was naturally flavourful and not overly dry. The Guinness came through in the cheddar, but the brioche was stone cold. As for the fries, half were crispy while the other half were soggy. But, they were not bad in general.
We had another pub favourite with the Bangers and Mash. Served with the same tasty garlic and kale mash, this dish looked promising. The sausages were meaty and firm with a considerable fried exterior. They were very mild, which was a good thing because the thick gravy was extremely salty. Furthermore, it had a pre-packaged aftertaste. I'm not implying this was packaged gravy, but it sure tasted like it. Sweet Tooth ended up with something called Toby's Pub Grub. In actuality, it was a pulled BBQ pork sammie with onion and chipotle mayo on brioche. She thought the meat was moist enough and there was sufficient sweet BBQ sauce. However, the cold brioche didn't enhance the eating experience. Despite being cold, she liked the bun as it held up and wasn't overly dry.
Gadget Girl and Gordo decided on desserts only beginning with the Toby's Baileys Cheesecake. As much as it didn't look all that impressive (despite the attempts to dress it up), it was flavourful without being overly sweet. The texture was on point as well being smooth, yet still firm all the way through. Also, it wasn't dried out anywhere on the exterior. As for Toby's Apple Crisp, it was not as good. The crisp was soggy while the flavours were pretty bland. Furthermore, it wasn't piping hot, which meant it was more of an apple-granola mix with ice cream on top. Lastly, Sweet Tooth couldn't resist and had to get the Sticky Toffee Pudding with ice cream. This was predictably heavy and super-sweet. Underneath the plethora of sweetness, the cake was moist and a bit wet. It had a deep sugariness that made the entire dessert difficult for one person to eat. Not to say it wasn't good though. Ultimately, Emilicious predicted the outcome of our meal at Toby's. It was okay for pub food and especially after a hockey game. Hence, reasonable expectations are imperative.
- Comfy, spacious seating
- Decent service
- Overly salty food
- Okay for after-the-game, but not those seeking great eats