Apparently being housed in a massive historic house with a ceiling adorned in grand wooden beams and an extensive beer and wine list go a long way with Vancouverites because Craft Beer Market has been the buzz of the town amongst beer lovers and foodies alike since it’s doors opened in November 2013.
With the major gentrification that has taken place over the past years in many of the more “seedy” areas of the city, it’s no surprise that trendy restaurants and pubs with an emphasis on fresh, handcrafted and local ingredients have essentially taken over the city. It’s also no surprise (or secret) that in recent years, Vancouver has become home and safe haven to an increasing number of both bros and those with “ironic” (read hipster) tendencies.
Situated in the old Salt Building in Olympic Village, a building erected in the 1930s and now designated as heritage, Craft would seem the perfect homage to the two populations. All these factors combined, it would also seem this baby’s got a winning formula to succeed. It is with this in mind (and the hopes of finally being cool), that I finally ventured into Craft Beer Market to see for myself about all this hullabaloo.
Cavernous. Cavernous is the first word I hear ringing through my head as I open the door to the restaurant. Walking down the hallway towards our table must be what it would be like for a hobbit to enter The Great Hall of Hogwarts. Indeed, a hobbit is what I feel like as I take my seat at the long table by the gargantuan windows at the very end of the restaurant. Giant pipes along the ceiling filter the beer into the taps at the bar and all around are the wooden beams that help to exude that vintage yet chic vibe that has become so popular in Vancouver.
They obviously have the venue down, but can we say the same about the food? One glance at the menu and I feel that familiar nervous sweat start to build. Overwhelmed? Just a bit. And then you flip it over only to realize there’s an entire other page filled to bursting with beer choices. Doubly overwhelmed? You bet your lifesavers.
Being Sunday morning, not only have we got to contend with the salads, soups, appetizers, burgers, entrees, and pastas, I’ve also got to consider the brunch menu. Not to carefully weigh my options would be disastrous for everyone involved.
Starting any Football Sunday off right can only mean one thing – that is, a liquid first round. The Double Diablo Caesar is garnished with pepper, olive, and lime wedge and is served with tasty mix that’s more on the spicy side with just the perfect amount of sweetness. A pickled bean (or huge slab of bacon) would have made my week but no such luck for Meggy today.
And when it comes to the nosh, we finally settle on the Classic Breakfast of poached eggs and sausages and the Chicken and Waffles. I can’t even explain to you how hard it was to turn my back on the 20 Napkin Burger or the Craft Mac and Cheese.
While nothing sensational, my brekky came with two poached eggs with yolks that had the perfect amount of run, two pieces of sausage, toast, and hash. As always, let’s not forget the importance of heat. It must have been my lucky day because my dish was definitely served hot today.
Again, though nothing sensational, the chicken and waffles were done decently. Served with their special hot sauce, the chicken was crispy, juicy, and well seasoned while the waffles, though admittedly a wee bit bland, managed to hold up without getting soggy.
Sauce hoarder that I am, my guiding principle in life is, “When life hands you lemons, always add more sauce,” so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t unsettled to find their special Craft hot sauce displeasing to everything in my mouth. Spicy as it was, it lacked flavour yet still managed to leave an odd taste in my mouth. As with every life situation, ketchup saves the day once again.Both dishes are served with skewers of fruit which I felt really elevated the status of the dish from “nothing sensational” to “nothing sensational but comes with fruit sticks.”
Despite its massive size and lively selection of beers, an ideal sports bar it does not make. Large televisions playing without sound make viewing football just slightly more difficult and as I learned this past weekend, is a surefire way to rile a football fan up.
Grandiose design, average quality food, but beer beer beer, I’ve gotta ask it: would I return?
Probably. Craft strikes me as a place to see and be seen and with such a sexy waterfront location set against the night sky, I’ve got some more seeing to do.