Tomahawk Restaurant –
I didn’t feel like crossing the Lion’s Gate Bridge today, so I decided to head over to north van and have lunch at Tomahawk Restaurant. I have had breakfast there before, but I wanted to give some of their non-breakfast items a try today.
Like other restaurants that have been featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, the restaurant has gained some online hype after being on the show. But its popularity seems to have stayed the same. On weekends, there is at least a 30-40 minute for brunch, which I gathered was the case before the restaurant was featured on the show. During weekdays for lunch and dinner, tables are usually readily available for walk-in diners like they always were. This is different from restaurants featured on DDD located in Vancouver proper, which have all gained a daily lunch queue after being on the show. I guess the visual allure of the HD video of their food and Fieri’s salesmanship are not strong enough to compel people to cross the First Narrows bridge in droves just to eat at the restaurant.
The interior of the restaurant, like its exterior, is adorned with totem sculptures, totem poles, totem paintings, and other pieces of First Nations art and artisanal craftsmanship.
Other than the breakfast section, the two biggest sections of their menu are the burger section and the sandwich section. My wife ordered a burger and I ordered a sandwich. My son ordered from the kid’s menu. He had the chicken tenders with fries, which was the exact same items he had for lunch yesterday at Joe Forte’s.
Like yesterday, my son only managed to finish two out of the three pieces of chicken tenders. While he was eating the tenders, he kept opening his mouth to take huge breaths of air and he kept asking for refills on his water. I asked him what was wrong and he said that the tenders were spicy. I cut off a little piece of one tender with my knife and fork and tried it. I wasn’t able to detect any spiciness, but I did detect a very herby flavour which, when combined with the rougher texture of the batter, created a faux-spiciness through the combination of pain to the tongue and aromas to the olfactory glands.
The thing about this chicken tender that was much better than the chicken tenders my son had yesterday at Joe Forte’s was its slight juiciness. Even though the white meat residing below the batter still felt a little dry, it at least had a tiny bit of juice that made it easier to chew. The tenders from Joe Forte’s yesterday was 100% dry, from the batter to the meat.
The included fries, however, were less tasty than the fries we got at Joe Forte’s yesterday. These fries were medium-sized, neither being a thick steakhouse cut nor the shoestring variety. Given their size, I expected them to be fried to a crispy crunch, but they were not. The skin was quite soft, and breaking through it I got a similarly textured interior. There were not a lot of enjoyable crispiness or crispy/mushy textural contrasts in these fries. They were limp and flavourless.
I had the beef dip, which was one of the items featured on Guy Fieri’s scripted-and-televised visit to Tomahawk Restaurant.
The menu described the beef as being organic and the bread being a baguette while the au jus was supposed to be “zesty”. I didn’t feel that the dipping juice tasted “zesty” at all. It was blander than a lot of the French dip au jus’s I’ve had. I couldn’t detect a lot of beefy flavours both by tasting the jus itself and by dipping the roast beef sandwich into it.
The sandwich was also pretty boring and disappointing. The supposed baguette was not crusty and airy at all; it felt more like a standard dinner roll or a garden-variety sandwich bun than a proper French baguette. The meat was also pretty average-tasting. When I read that the beef was organic, I figured that it would have grass-fed-beef flavours along with a leaner, tougher texture. I was right on the texture part. The beef was pretty hard to bite off and chew through. Even though the amount of beef included was standard for a beef dip sandwich, it was tougher on the teeth than other versions of thinly-shaved-and-stacked roast beef. I thought that dipping the sandwich in the dip would make it easier to bite through, but that was not the case. The beef held its firmness regardless of any added moisture.
I asked for the fries that came as the side order of the dish to be substituted with onion rings. The onion rings were well-fried. The battered skin was crispy without being too greasy. The onions inside were also crispy as well as being juicy. I certainly would not put them in the top 20 of the best onion rings I’ve ever had, but they were decent. I actually liked them a bit more than the sandwich.
My wife had the Dagwood Super Hamburger.
The burger came to our table stacked high, with shredded lettuce, a slice of tomato, a weiner sliced in two, one fried egg, and an organic beef patty between two toasted buns. The first words that came out of my wife’s mouth after she finished ingesting the first bite of her burger was that the lettuce was too sweet. She said that the “Tomahawk special sauce” was applied on the lettuce, and it made the lettuce unbearably sweet. This sweetness ruined the flavours of the burger for my wife. The sweetness was so over-the-top that the only other flavour she could detect in the burger was the flavour of the weiners. She said that the weiner flavour tasted really weird on a burger, and that they tasted even weirder when combined with the sweet burger sauce.
My wife was also not liking the textures she experienced while eating the burger. The texture of the bun was ok, but the beef patty was way too dry. There was absolutely no tenderness or juiciness in the organic beef to soften the patty up. It was so dry that the minced beef seemed disintegrate into beef powder when it entered my wife’s mouth. According to my wife, the egg was also a massive failure. The entire egg was overcooked, with the yolk being the most massively and horrendously overcooked part of it. The yolk was as powdery dry as the patty. The combined dryness of both the patty and the egg yolk created a texture so dry that no amount of moisture from the burger sauce or the moist lettuce could mask or reverse it.
My wife was even more disappointed with her burger than I was with my beef dip sandwich.
I remembered the breakfast I had at Tomahawk restaurant to be pretty average and not very memorable. The lunch we had today was below-average and more memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. The textures we got in the two beef-based dishes we ordered today were dry, tough, dry, powdery, dry, dry, and more dry. They should’ve used regular grain-fed fatty beef instead of the organic low-on-fat-and-high-on-chewiness beef. I would rather feel better while eating the meat than feel better thinking about the cows grazing in an open field (which they probably weren’t anyways. They probably had living arrangements as crowded as their grain-fed counterparts) and delaying my heart attack for a day and a half. If I were to come here again for lunch or dinner next time – which I highly doubt – I’ll be going for the chicken…It’ll at least be juicy and tender enough to the bite that I won’t gag or dislocate my jaw by trying to eat it.