Ensemble Tap: Bacon Pancakes with a Side of Frown
990 Smith Street, Vancouver
I was prepared to love Ensemble Tap, after all, they have bacon pancakes on the menu and their Chef, Dale MacKay was who I was rooting for on Top Chef Canada. First off, the entrance to Ensemble Tap is not the easiest to find, it’s tucked away in the shade. When we went in, I was surprised to find the restaurant mostly empty, there were only two small tables filled in addition to our table of 7.
The service, I am disappointed to report was abysmal. I have never seen a less smiley server in my life, and I dine at a lot of Chinese restaurants where customer service is the lowest priority! Ensemble Tap is in the heart of downtown Vancouver and in a prime tourist area, you’d think a perky, smiley server is a requirement.
This is due to our own clumsiness but we spilled coffee by knocking over a coffee cup with Ensemble Tap’s giant menus. I know it’s the trend for restaurants to feature menus that are 10 times larger than their tables but I’ve always hated big, clunky menus. Mostly because I am clumsy. The bad thing about spilling coffee was that, it still didn’t catch the attention of our server. When we finally flagged her over, with full arm flaps and nearly half standing up at our table, she finally helped mop up the spill and brought a new cup of coffee.
I did enjoy my fruity and refreshing guava mimosa though!
We went through another long waiting period before our server came back to take our food order. This girl was determined not to smile, it was putting a bit of a damper on the ambiance, actually.
We ordered 7 items, which took an extremely long time to be served even though there were only 4 other guests in the restaurant.
When the food arrived, it did smell delicious though. I was pretty excited about my bacon pancakes, which turned out to be fluffy and buttery. I could taste each salty morsel of delectable bacon. The only problem was, I realized I could have made this at home for a fraction of the cost!
The side of sausage that I ordered was flavourful but a bit on the dry side. I’m used to more fatty, mystery meat breakfast sausages.
The Asian vegetable and green salad I ordered turned out to be pretty tasty and I don’t even like vegetables! The salad was chock full of yummy Enoki mushrooms, carrots, daikon radish, cashews and black sesame seeds. I’m pretty sure it was the sesame seeds that were the secret ingredient!
The steak and eggs was one of my faves. The hanger steak was very tender and moist, pink and juicy in the middle, and sporting a nice char on the outer crust. I wish I had ordered this!
The Ensemble Burger looked juicy and delicious.
The Brisket Benny was a bit of a disappointment though. While we were expecting a cool spin on the traditional benny, with lots of stringy, tender, moist brisket, we got something more like cooked ham on top of an English muffin. It tasted a little bit like processed meat with standard hollandaise sauce scooped on top.
The pulled pork and barbeque beans were pretty tasty. It was served in a big bowl with home fries on the bottom. Interesting plating. I liked that the sauce from the pork and beans dripped down to the potatoes, it was a fairly delicious result. The pork was tender and quite flavourful. The beans were tangy and smokey. This was how we thought the Brisket Benny would turn out!
I was very surprised that all through our brunch, and we were there for a good two hours, there were only two more tables that filled up. Brunch is a big deal in Vancouver so it’s surprising that Vancouverites wouldn’t flock to Ensemble Tap. Could it be anything to do with the service? We asked three times before finally getting an extra glass of water. And guess what? Our long awaited glass of water was not served with a smile.
I probably won’t return to Ensemble Tap. It’s too bad because they probably have a stellar patio in the summer and I love patios.