Village Taphouse -
My visit to the Village Taphouse today was more out of necessity than by actual choice. Since the last day of school for my daughter meant early dismissal, I had to choose a lunch spot close to home. I also wanted to watch the Euro 2012 semi-final between Italy and Germany, so I needed a place that had the game playing on their wall-hung monitors. An additional criteria was that the place had to be relatively clean, safe, and comfortable. I wanted my son to feel relaxed at the place so that my wife and I could watch the game in peace.
The Village Taphouse was a restaurant that I know of that satisfied all three criteria. Actually, I think it was my only choice. It was probably the only place in my neighborhood that resembled a sports bar, its was fairly new and well-maintained, and it was situated in family-friendly Park Royal Village. Plus, how can anyone resist watching a soccer game underneath a faux-lighthouse?
The interior of the restaurant felt extremely comfortable; I thought that they created a great atmosphere for enjoying any type of sporting event they had playing on the numerous screens they had set up throughout the restaurant. The black leather seats were large and comfy. The brick walls and exposed wood beams felt warm and inviting. The gray ceiling paint felt calm and serene. The arrangement and spacing of the tables gave a lively but uncrowded feeling. The high ceilings dissipated the loudness of cheers from other patrons of the restaurant, while allowing the cheers to reverberate throughout the room at the same time; I could hear the passion of the supporters of both teams through their cheers and sighs of despair, but the volume of the sounds that reached my eardrums were so suitably leveled by the huge open space that at no time did they feel unbearable. The atmosphere was so comfortable that my son never once left his seat throughout the entire meal.
Normally, the food that the restaurant serves would be my primary motivation for visiting it, but the food was secondary to the exciting soccer match and comfortable atmosphere today. We tried to order food that wouldn’t distract us from enjoying the game.
My wife had the clubhouse sandwich with onion rings, which could be handheld instead of her needing to make use of a fork and a knife.
My wife was given a choice of multigrain or sourdough for the bread component of the sandwich, and she chose sourdough. She was so focused on the game that she forgot that she ordered the sourdough when the sandwich came. After her first bite, she complained that the sandwich tasted sour. She felt that the sourness did not go well with the turkey breast, bacon, tomatoes, or the mayo. She said that the sour flavour was simply too dominant, and that she didn’t understand why they had to make the sandwich sour. Once I was able to get a word in, I told her that the sourness probably came from the sourdough that she ordered. She then laughed and said that she had totally forgotten about the sourdough. But she also said that, given the dominant sourness of the sourdough, the restaurant should not have offered it as a bread choice in the first place. I took a bite of the sandwich and agreed that the sourness masked most of the flavours of the other ingredients.
The onion rings were pretty good. They were crunchy on the outside while being juicy and slightly sweet on the inside. As I’ve mentioned several times in my previous posts, it’s hard to screw up onion rings. Thus, both my wife and I fully expected the onion rings to be as good as they were.
I had the bison burger with poutine.
My first bite of the burger revealed a very gamey flavour. The gaminess threw me off because I didn’t remember bison to have such a pronounced gaminess to it. After a few more bites, I realized that the gaminess did not come from the bison patty. It came from the goat cheese. I then tried all the components separately and confirmed that the gaminess I detected came from the goat cheese. The bison patty itself had no particularly distinguishable flavours. It had a pretty mild flavour due to its being leaner than regular beef. The leanness of the bison also contributed to the patty’s dryness, and the dryness was further accentuated by the thickness of the patty.
The rest of the components felt very generic. The bun tasted generic, and the saskatoon berry caramelized onions sounded better than it tasted. I actually didn’t finish the burger, which was a rare feat in itself.
The poutine that I ordered as the side dish to my burger was also a poor representation of its genre. I didn’t like the fact that the fries were battered and had a rough outer texture. I also didn’t like the minuscule amount of cheese that was not supposed to be so melted. The included amount of cheese was barely enough to cover one tenth of the fries. And whenever I found cheese, it was so melted it felt like I was eating frites gratine. The gravy was pretty ordinary as well. After a few bites of the poutine, I kind of hoped that I ordered the yam fries instead.
We also had an order of calamari to share.
The calamari was good. It was better than my wife’s sandwich, my bison burger, and my poutine. Each individual piece of calamari and pepper was fully covered with batter, and each piece was fried to an enjoyable crispiness. When paired with the bell peppers, there was a enjoyable sweetness I detected with the calamari; when paired with the hot peppers, the calamari gained an equally enjoyable spicy flavour. They fry job on the pieces of calamari was excellent. The pieces of calamari had a slight chewy but totally chewable texture that was not too straining on my jaws.
We ordered two sliders sans buns or condiments for my son.
We brought our own brown rice for my son, so the patties were all that he needed (and wanted). Just from the looks of it, I knew that these regular beef patties were juicier than my bison patty. The juices that flowed out from the patties after my wife cut into them confirmed that these patties were indeed juicier. My son seemed to enjoy them. He happily ate the pieces of patty with his container of rice until he finished both.
I thought that it was a great gesture on the restaurant’s part to allow us to order only the two patties by themselves. I had originally asked for their regular 3-slider appetizer, but our server went above and beyond by allowing us to order two individual sliders without buns or condiments. I was doubly surprised when the bill came and I found out they only charged us $3.50 for the two patties.
The visit that my wife, son, and I made to Village Taphouse today was totally not about the food. It was about watching the soccer match, and we were more than satisfied with the atmosphere that the restaurant created for watching the game. The food was really not that important, and we totally felt fine with the subpar bison burger and clubhouse sandwich that we were served today. In fact, we felt that the tasty calamari that we were served today was a bonus. We’ll definitely come back to this restaurant again to watch another sporting event. We might even try ordering different items to see if we can luck out on another item that is as well executed as the calamari…What we won’t do is to visit the restaurant when there are no sporting events to distract us from their underwhelming food.