Doolins Irish Pub: Upscale Pub Dining for the Hockey Crowd
654 Nelson Street, Vancouver
Just in time for NHL Playoffs, Doolin’s launched their new spring and summer menu tonight and offered a tasting to bloggers. Rick and I checked it out with our fellow food bloggers, Dave and Ann from Me plus food, Amy from Food Queen and Mary from Vancouver Bits and Bites Blog and photographer, Maurice Li.
The new menu definitely reflects the gastropubs of Europe as opposed to the nachos and beer Canadian pubs here. I love the new upscale items and what’s better than watching Ryan Kesler score the winning goal while sipping on craft beer and nibbling on duck confit flatbread?
Before our entrees were served, we each ordered a beer and enjoyed some appies. I stuck with the Doolin’s Ale, which was refreshing and slightly sweet and nutty. A great thirst quencher because the little duck bites were salty.
The duck bites were scrumptious little pieces of duck marinated in chipotle, ginger and picked jalapenos and (wait for it…) wrapped in bacon! They were delicious and addictive. A wonderfully creative and fun snack for a pub. And like I said, I’ll eat anything wrapped in bacon. The salty meat was kicked up a notch in flavour with the hit of spice from the chipotle and jalapenos so that’s when the Doolin’s Ale came in handy.
There were three types of flatbread, each featuring local ingredients and each more delectable than the next. My favourite was the crab and asparagus flatbread. It was so rich with two types of cheeses: mozzarella and parmesan with some creamy Alfredo mixed in. I also loved the big chunks of crab throughout the flatbread. The seafood picked up all the salty flavours from the cheese and the sweetness from the roasted red peppers. Again, another great accompaniment for the Doolin’s Ale.
My second favourite flatbread was the Mediterranean with gorgeous and sweet grape tomatoes, juicy kalamata olives and lots of mozzarella, feta cheese and pesto, artichoke hearts and red onions. I’m biased to all things Mediterranean so naturally, I loved this flatbread. A tad bit on the salty side, but more reason to drink beer! I am also impressed that for the most part, the bread was barely soggy, it was nice and crispy until my last bite.
The third flatbread was the duck confit. Although duck is one of my favourite meats, I don’t think they put enough of it on this flatbread. Unless I got the piece that had the least duck on it! I only got a few pieces of duck, but those pieces were tender and flavourful. I liked the deep, rustic sweetness from the sun dried tomatoes.
For our entrees, we got to choose from what I still consider a fancy menu for a pub. I went with the mahi mahi (when do you see that in a pub?), pan-seared and seasoned, served with pico de gallo salsa and cilantro-lime rice pilaf.
The 8oz mahi mahi fish steak was huge when it came to the table. I was definitely impressed, and it smelled delicious too! I loved the cool and light flavours of the sauce and the rice pilaf. The fish itself was tender enough to just slice apart with my fork, and even though it doesn’t look heavily seasoned, the fish was still very flavourful, salty along the surface with fresh and clean flavours in the centre. I always forget how firm mahi mahi meat is, and I was getting pretty full before I even finished this dish! This would definitely make a great dinner while watching the game at Doolin’s.
The pico de gallo salsa also added a wonderful moisture to the dish with some sweetness and herb flavours.
Ann ordered the Baja fish sandwich, it’s labeled on the menu as being served with mild hot sauce but being the wimp that I am, I was nearly finished off in two bites. My tongue was pretty tingling for a good 15 minutes after that. I’m not a good judge of spice though. Rick thought the spice level was nearly non-existent. I loved the soft and tender texture of the fish though.
Dave ordered the pulled beer can chicken sandwich, which thankfully was not spicy. Maurice mentioned that it reminded him of La Brasserie Street‘s famous food cart sandwich and I agree! The crispy and stringy onion straws were definitely reminiscent of the food cart’s chicken sandwich. I still liked Doolin’s version. The chicken was wonderfully moist, soaking up all that homey gravy and herbs.
Rick ordered the blackened sesame salmon. I really liked the firm and flavourful crust on the top of the salmon. It really encased the moisture inside the fish so the meat in the middle was juicy and succulent. I also loved the nutty and sweet flavours from the sesame.
Dessert was the best part. Walnut ice cream was served with a little square of dense carrot cake topped with a lot of cream cheese icing. If there’s one thing I hold close to my heart, it’s cream cheese icing. I live for it. And Doolin’s definitely does not skimp on icing. Topped to the max is the sweet and slightly salty cream cheese icing in all its sticky and gooey glory on top of a very dense and moist carrot cake. I hate vegetables but will be more than happy to eat them when put into a pastry!
The ice cream was divine, nutty and also bittersweet with little flakes of dark chocolate mixed in. The ice cream was cool, thick and creamy, the perfect match to the sweet carrot cake.
I can totally see myself grabbing after work eats at Doolin’s or catching a playoff hockey game in the near future.