The last time I was invited to Doolin's, I was able to sample some of their new menu items which were generally pretty good. Similarly to some of the other gastropubs in town, Doolin's continues to up their game in offering just the regular pub fair (yet at a reasonable price). Hence, with another round of new offerings, I received another invite to sample them on their dime. So I mentally prepared myself to be stared at by pub patrons much like the last 2 times. Big DSLRs and pubs don't really seem to mix... They seem to draw less attention at Japanese restaurants... Hmmm....
Starting with the most important item of our meal, we both had a pint of the Double Mountain Kölsch from Oregon that was unfiltered and noticeably hoppy. I found it refreshing while smooth going down. Despite being described as generously hopped, we didn't find it overly bitter. With that, we proceeded to the food beginning with the Short Rib Flatbread with red wine braised beef, caramelized onions, dry roasted cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and tomato sauce topped with blue cheese aioli. One bite and we could tell several flavours were at play with equal impact. The sharpness of the blue cheese was pretty apparent as well as the rich stewed aroma of the short rib. Most of it was moist except for the exposed portions which dried out slightly. Most importantly, the dried tomatoes provided tartness which helped cut through the heaviness of the ingredients. As for the crust, it was bread like, yet light and crispy at the same time.
Next, we sampled the Deep Fried Pickles with a dill breading and chipotle aioli. Depending on which part of the spear, it ranged from a firm crunchy to a softer crispiness (in the middle). That didn't impact the overall product as none of the batter was soggy. We could definitely taste the ample dill while the pickle itself was not tremendously salty. The chipotle mayo was effectively spicy where it was not overwhelming. Onto more fried goodness, we had the Wonton Prawns breaded with wonton wrapper strips and served with Ponzu and sweet Srirracha lime. Texturally, there was a firm crunch from the strips and then a lighter crispiness underneath. The prawns were meaty and naturally sweet. We much preferred the Srirracha sauce as it had a nice mix of spice and zip. We felt the Ponzu was far too salty and overwhelmed the prawns.
Onto the mains, Viv tried their new Fried Chicken Sandwich consisting of lightly breaded Rossdown Farms free-range chicken topped with aged white cheddar, bacon and chipotle aioli on a toasted sourdough Kaiser bun. Being free-range chicken, the large fried breast meat was sufficiently moist while firm. However, it could've used a light brine as the meat was dependent on the crispy batter and other ingredients for flavour. The crispy bacon and sharp cheddar came through in that regard. We loved the toasted bun as it was crispy and held up to the ingredients. We were not fans of the coleslaw though as it had a really odd aftertaste. As for my Guinness Beef Pie, it was meat love at first bite. Underneath the flaky pastry was a thick and rich gravy that had all the goodness of Guinness without the bitterness. It was a tad salty though, but when combined with the chunky mash, it worked fine. The big chunks of meat remained succulent while the plump mushrooms were a nice surprise with each bite.
For dessert, we shared the Brownie and Ice Cream with peanut butter chocolate ice cream. We found the brownie to be chocolaty and pretty sweet due to the ample chocolate chips. It was moist with an appealing chewiness. The star of the plate was the ice cream as it was nutty and not overly sweet. We felt the caramel drizzle was not necessary as there was enough sweetness on the plate as it was. Ultimately, this was a literally sweet finish to another solid meal at Doolin's. Considering their reasonable pricing and ample portions, there is not much to complain about the food here.
*All food and beverages excluding gratuities were comped*
- Reasonable pricing
- Good portions
- Above-average eats
- It's a gastropub, so don't expect health food (and I don't)
- I know this is nitpicking, but there was something funky about that coleslaw