Sherman's Food Adventures: Dubh Linn Gate: Irish Pub

Dubh Linn Gate: Irish Pub

Wait...  Wasn't there just a post recently on Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub?  Yes, I had been invited to a menu tasting a few months ago and came away pretty impressed with the food.  With a change in Executive Chef, I was invited back to do another tasting with a nearly complete revamping of the menu.  I was curious to try the new menu items as well as holding high expectations based on the last visit.  Turns out I should've brought my Joey Tribbiani stretchy pants because they didn't hold back with the selection of eats!

We were started off with the Mushroom & Barley Croquettes done in an Arancini-style and served with ranch dressing.  These were hot and crispy with the thinnest of breading.  They were not greasy at all and featured a creamy and mushroomy filling that had a bite due to the barley.  It was definitely different than using arborio rice, but I thought it worked.  It really didn't need the ranch dressing as they tasted great on their own.  With an intoxicating aroma, we were surprised with the Pulled Chicken Curry.  It was pretty legit-tasting being full-flavoured where we could taste the spices including the cumin and turmeric.  There was also a low rumble of spice accented by the nutty crunch from the almonds and brightness from the cilantro.  Although the grilled naan bread was not done in a tandoor (and we didn't expect that either), it was good for what it was being toasty, nutty and crispy with a chew.

Although the Smoked Ham Hock Mac n' Cheese didn't look like anything special, it was actually one of our favourites.  It consisted of Two Rivers smoked ham hocks mixed with pale ale aged cheddar cheese sauce and green peas.  The smoky and purposefully salty ham added plenty of punch to the creamy and full-bodied cheese sauce.  Loved the succulent ham and the pop of the sweet peas together as well as the crunch from the topping.  This was seriously tasty and if there wasn't more food on the way, I would've dusted this off by myself!  But alas, my absolute favourite dish arrived next in the 7 oz AAA Flat Iron Steak with peppercorn sauce, Brussels sprouts, sauteed Yukon potatoes, cabbage and bacon.  This was seared uniformly medium-rare and well-rested with a beautiful char.  Hence, the meat was juicy, ultra-tender and well-seasoned.  Even the veggies were on point in terms of texture and taste.

Of course we had to have some greens too right?  Well, not really, but since we were served 2 of them for the tasting, I had to do the obligatory sample.  The first was a familiar one in the Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with red, golden and candy can beets, walnuts, poached pears and chevre tossed in a rhubarb dressing.  The thing I enjoyed about this salad was the variety of flavours and textures.  Some beets were sweet being roasted while the others were tangy being pickled.  The dressing was aggressive, but welcomed due to the creamy tang.  We also had the Cider Glazed Prawns and Grapefruit Salad, which was really all about the prawns.  They were large, meaty and exhibited a strong natural sweet prawn flavour and aroma.  The mint cilantro citrus dressing was refreshing and appetizing going well with the rest of the ingredients including pumpkin seeds, feta, avocado and pickled onion.

Back to the meat, we were presented with the Chicken Parmi sporting an Australian version with a breaded chicken breasts topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese served over fries.  This was really a simple dish where the chicken was aggressively breaded where the coating was crunchy and remained so despite the sauce.  The meat itself was a little dry but the amount of tangy sauce and melted mozzarella made up for it.  Loved eating it with the fries though as it was sorta like a chicken parm poutine.  Something just as cheesy was the Ham & Cheddar Toastie featuring Two Rivers nitrate-free ham on Swiss Bakery sourdough with aged cheddar, creamy apple spread and house made piccalilli relish.  This was loaded with ham and was extremely messy!  Lots of ooey gooey cheese to go with the wealth of sweet, tangy and salty hits from the ingredients.

Moving onto a different type of cuisine, we had some tacos.  The first to arrive was the Tacos de Carnitas with ancho-marinated pork butt braised in garlic, onions and limes.  This was pretty good with juicy tender pork that was flavourful from the braise.  There was a pointed spiciness and heat from the habanero hot sauce which was somewhat cooled by sweetness and sharpness of the pineapple salsa.  The amount of cabbage was just right providing a crunch and relief from the spiciness.  The second version was the Crispy Cod Tacos with beer battered Ocean Wise north pacific cod with guacamole, chili lime sauce, cilantro cabbage and pickled red onions.  The moist and flaky cod was enveloped in a crunchy batter while flavoured by the spicy and tangy chili lime sauce.  Layers of flavours appeared from the bright cilantro and acidic pickled onions.

On that note, we also had more cod in the Fish n' Chips with a humongous 7 oz. filet of the same beer battered cod atop house fries accompanied by tartar sauce and slaw.  Since the piece of fish was even bigger, the flakiness was even more apparent.  The fish was on point being super moist and tender.  Like the taco, the batter was crunchy, marginally greasy and nicely seasoned.  Underneath, the fries were uniformly crispy and were extra tasty when dunked into the creamy and tangy tartar sauce.  Even the slaw was on point being crunchy and easy on the dressing while still tangy.  I didn't get to one of the earlier appies until I tackled some of the mains.  This is where I sampled the Hummus & Olives.  Okay, nothing special here right?  Well yes and no.  The hummus was unique where they added harissa which added a je ne sais quoi quality to it.  There was a spiced Earthiness to go with the garlickiness.  The hummus was fairly smooth with a bit of textural chunkiness.

One of the last dishes to arrive was curiously the Brasserie Board consisting of Guinness Cheddar, Chevre, Rondoux, Bresaola, Two Rivers Ham Hock Rillette, pickled veggies, pickled egg, apple mustard, raisin chutney, beer jelly and Swiss Bakery sourdough.  This was a pretty board with plenty of things to share.  I particularly liked the Guinness cheddar as it was slightly tangy, rich and marginally pungent.  The shredded ham hock did its best impression of a chunky rillette.  The saltiness was tempered by finely diced onions.

Onto the sweets, I was pleasantly surprised by the Pot of Cheesecake baked in a mason jar.  Normally, one look at a dessert in a jar and I have this negative bias towards it.  But this was actually good with crispy graham cracker crumbs and a smooth cheesy mousse.  The ample sour cherry topping was juicy and not overly sweet.  As for the Flourless Chocolate Cake, it ate more like a rich ganache square.  This was not a bad thing because it was chocolately, purposefully sweet and appealingly bitter.  The sweet caramel sauce and raspberry compote were nice compliments in terms of sweetness and tang.  These were a delightful ending to a successful tasting.  Once again, the food was solid at Dubh Linn Gate, even with the changes.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Solid eats for a pub (and in fact any place)
- Good portions
- Moderately-priced

The Bad:
- Fries aren't bad, but for me, they are a little generic


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