Advantages Great Atmosphere, Great Food & Drink
|Value for Money|
|Standard of Service|
I recently spent a few weeks in Vancouver. Whilst there me and my friend stayed with some friends who were living in Canada for a year. Their apartment was situated in North Vancouver. After our long flight me and my friend were pretty shattered the day after our arrival. So for our first full day in Canada we had a long lie in and then our hosts suggested a relaxing walk by the river down to their ‘local’. This seemed like a nice way to start our stay and we were both ready to get out and see what Vancouver had to offer.So at around lunch time we headed out into the rainy Vancouver afternoon. We were heading for a bar known as the Village Taphouse. Karen our friend, said it was a really nice bar that did excellent food, so we were planning on having a bar snack there. Our ten minute walk along the banks of the Capilano river was pretty wet and rather hurried. As we left the trail down by the river we went into a small retail park. There were a few shops and business’ and a nice looking mall. But at the far end of the park sat our destination, the Village Taphouse. I really liked the look of the bar from the outside, I had a really unique look to it. (see picture) This would be our first taste of Canada and I was looking forward to finding out just what bars were like over here.
We entered through the big doubles door and shook off our wet coats. We were welcomed by two friendly girls who commented on the weather. Soon as we replied they noticed our English accents and asked us where we were from. After a quick chat they showed us to a table. The waitress gave us a choice of either a table out in the centre or one of the large booths up in the corner. As the booths looked rather flash we opted for one of them.We sat down and within seconds a new waitress was on hand to give us a drinks menu. Again when she heard our accents she was excited to ask us where we were from and what we were doing in Vancouver. We were more than happy to chat to her and I must admit she was a bit of a babe! Canada had made a very good first impression! After our friendly natter she asked what kind of beers we liked and made a few suggestions as to what we might enjoy. She had an excellent knowledge of all the beers and seemed to know what she was talking about. The menu had such a wide selection, there were twenty beers on tap and about twenty more in bottles. Most of the beers were from locals microbreweries and you could choose from lagers, ales and even a few dark beers or stouts as we would call them. Each beer had an excellent description of what it was like as well as the strength and of course the price! There is also the option of the ‘daily tap’. A specially selected beer that is cheaper than most of the others, as the name suggests they change this every day.
We ordered our beers and had a look at the lunch menus. There was a decent selection and plenty of great choices for a lunchtime snack. We had the option of things like pasta or pizza or some excellent looking gourmet burgers. We decided on getting a few things and sharing. The waitress was back within a few minutes with our beers and ready to take our order. We went for a large plate of chicken wings, some yam fries and a plate of potato skins. The lovely waitress stood there attentively but didn’t write anything down. I must admit this confused me somewhat, as when back at home you always see the waitress’ with a pen and paper. As she left with our order our friend Karen whispered that nearly all the waitress’ over here rely on memory. She said even when there are quite a few out for a meal they seem to remember everything. That can’t be easy when you have a large group ordering all sorts. Anyway I decided I would wait and see if she got our order correct.As we sat waiting for our food we sipped our drinks. The beers were excellent. This was the first drink I had had in Canada and I was loving the choice. We all tried a sip of each others and I was happy to report my favourite was the Granville Island Pale Ale which was the one I had chosen. (Hmmm, maybe my cold sore a few days later was a result of this shocking display of hygiene?) A really good strong beer with a warming taste. I had three different beers whilst here and really liked them all, some of the lagers were also really nice. My friends also liked there choices although Karen soon decided to switch to cocktails of which there was apparently a wonderful selection, although to be honest it didn’t really mean a whole lot to me as I can’t say I often drink cocktails.
After about ten minutes our food arrived. And yes, everything was as it should have been, although I suppose three orders was not that much of a challenge. The chicken wings were excellent and came with three different dips, all of which were very tasty. Now the yam fries were something special. The waitress could not believe we had never had them before and that we don't do them in the UK. They are basically sweet potatoes, fried. They are very very good! They also came with some good dips and we gobbled them down! If you ever see these anywhere, give them a try, they really are excellent! I must admit I didn’t try the potato skins as they were covered in melted cheese which is something I’m not to fond of.After we had finished of our food we sat around for a while and enjoyed our drinks. We ordered a few more beers each and just chilled out in the pleasant surroundings. To finish off I decided to splash out on a whisky. I was amazed at the choice, it was better than most British pubs I've been in. Being into whisky in a big way I was well chuffed to see all my favourites on the menu. I went for a Lagavullin, which I know I like. Although I should mention whisky in Canada is not cheap! It cost me $14 for a whisky, and it was not a big measure! Even in the Liquor store we noticed whisky was three times as much as it is back in the UK. However I was happy to find it tasted just as I expected and I decided despite the expense it was worth it!
Anyway after several beers, some great food and a nice whisky we asked for the bill. It was $50 each! Welcome to Canada!! We soon realised Vancouver is a very expensive city. The cheapest beers in the Taphouse are $4, which is about £2.80. Most are up around $7 or $8 so you are looking at over £5 per beer. Not cheap! And the food was more than I am used to paying back home. And then there is the dreaded tax! Everything in Canada has tax added on that you don’t see in the original price, so you are always paying more for things than you expect, I must admit this caught me out on a few occasions! Then of course you had to add tip, and we felt obliged to give a decent one as the service had been so excellent! So this was the only downside of the Taphouse, it was very expensive.As we left our waitress wished us a great holiday and gave us a cheeky smile. It had struck me how all the girls working in this bar seemed to be remarkably good looking. Again, this Canada place was looking better by the minute! We left the Taphouse feeling thoroughly satisfied if slightly poorer for the experience.
Near the end of our holiday I was out with my friend and we were looking for somewhere to eat. She suggested we go back to the Taphouse as she knew how much I had enjoyed it last time. Yet again everything was excellent. We got another really friendly waitress who was yet again rather scrummy! This time I had a burger. It was one of the best burgers I have ever had. A massive home made beast on a tasty bun. It had loads of salad and tasty sauce on, and get this, mushrooms! I’ve never had mushrooms on a burger before, but wow, let me tell you, they are the future! There were also some really nice fries and a side salad.It was a Wednesday afternoon this time but there were still quite a few people in. I noticed a few business people who looked like they had come out for lunch, the place still had a lively buzz about it. My friend also enjoyed her meal, she went for pasta and it came on a massive bowl and she struggled to finish the meal it was so big. I also noticed there was a pool table in the bar, something I had managed to miss first time round, we didn’t have time to play but I would quite have enjoyed spending an afternoon in there playing pool and having a few beers. Yet again the Taphouse had come up trumps. This visit was only a brief one and I only had one beer so it worked out a lot cheaper this time around.
On the two occasions we visited the Taphouse there was a really warm and friendly atmosphere. The first time it was a Saturday afternoon when we were there and it was quite busy. The bar has several TV screens dotted around all showing a variety of sports. The second time we were in there, there was a live hockey game on. Quite a few people were in the bar to watch this and I quite enjoyed watching it and seeing the fans getting involved. My friend told us that when the Vancouver Canucks are playing and Burrows, one of their best players scores, everyone gets a free beer! He told us that on a match day the bar is packed and there is a fantastic atmosphere. Even though its gets a little rowdy he said its still got a really friendly atmosphere.There are also events on from time to time in the Taphouse. We were not fortunate enough to get to one of these but they often have live music. Some decent local bands play here and you can go along and enjoy the music. Every Wednesday they have a karaoke night which apparently is great fun. Again there is no extra charge for this, just turn up and get involved. We were there just before the Winter Olympics and I noticed they were advertising the fact that they were putting seating outside with a few big screens, they were setting up large patio heaters to keep everyone warm and there was no charge to come and watch the games. This sounded like a great idea and I would have loved to have been around when the games were going on.
I like the fact that if there is room they give you a choice of either a booth or a table out in the middle, or there is the option of sitting up near the bar. These means you can have some privacy in your little booth or you can be out amongst the hustle and bustle of the bar. The booths were really comfy, big high backed chairs that were nicely cushioned and a massive oak table that was really nicely made. It’s quite a bright bar with nice lighting that just sets the mood off perfectly. There were lots of interesting pictures on the walls and plenty of things to brighten the place up and make it interesting!
I was impressed with the toilets. Being a guy I don’t usually take that much notice of things like this unless they are extremely bad or extremely good! These were nice and clean and really quite impressive. Very modern and everything was automatic. The urinals flush themselves soon as you step back and there are nice dividers that separate each urinal, something I like as it stops sweaty blokes having a cheeky peek! The wash basins were something you would expect in a fancy hotel and again everything had sensors on so you put your hands under the taps and on they came, magic!Being in quite a large retail park there was plenty of parking available. The Taphouse had it’s own small car park but we had no problems parking just across the road on a larger car park. The parking was free and there was no limit to how long you could park there. I also noticed there was a telephone just inside the doors and a few taxi phone numbers next to it, so I’m sure it would be easy enough to book yourself a taxi if you wanted to have a few extra beers!
All the food and drink we tried were excellent. Yes it was a little on the expensive side which is probably the only thing that really lets the bar down. But to be honest, for this kind of experience I was happy to pay a few dollars extra. If you are ever in either North or West Vancouver I strongly suggest looking out for this place. The bar is on Main Street, Village at Park Royal. If you are struggling they do have a website. www.villagetaphouse.com From here you can get directions as well as having a look at what events are on, checking out some of the drinks on tap and also you can download a sample of the menu.This bar is really worth going out of your way for. It’s a great experience that just embraces everything that Canada is about. I would love to have the chance to go back here some day and try a few more of the beers, have another burger and chat to some more of the lovely serving girls. The Taphouse is just a great place to pass a few happy hours! I hope one day you find yourself there!
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