pumphouse pub menu launch dinner

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Disclaimer: I didn’t pay for this meal. Thanks Janice for the invite and Pumphouse for hosting the dinner.

The Pumphouse Pub has been at the corner of Blundell and No 2 Road in Richmond for as long as I can remember, but I’ve only recently started to hear the name mentioned again in craft beer circles as one of the best beer spots in my humble city. So when Janice from Good Eat invited me to accompany her to their brewmaster’s dinner/new menu test dinner, I jumped at the chance to check it out for myself. Unlike the regular brewmaster’s dinners, which feature five courses and beer pairings, this one was comprised of ten (!) courses and five beers, to gauge the reaction to the full breadth of the dishes being premiered.

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The first trio was a winter salad (greens, peppers, mushrooms, pecans, chicken) and an upgraded version of the Pumphouse’s existing chicken strip, accompanied by North Coast Brewing’s Scrimshaw Pilsner. The salad was a good starter and was prevented from being too pedestrian by the pecans and chicken. I like nuts in my salad. I was more intrigued by the chicken strip sauce, which was curry ketchup. I thought it was quite an interesting twist on regular ketchup; the curry gave it a somewhat barbeque-esque smokiness. Don’t know if it’d go over well with the crowd who usually order chicken strips, though. Luckily, regular ketchup is still available. The beer pairing for this had a story: apparently the Scrimshaw was the first craft beer on tap at the Pumphouse, which was the reason for its inclusion in the dinner. I’m not a huge fan of pilsners — they’re a little boring, but I guess nostalgia’s as good a reason as any for beer choice.

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The next course was a small meat pie, with beef and peas in pastry on mashed potatoes. The savouriness of the beef and gravy with its pairing of Steamworks Oatmeal Stout (not a Pale Ale, as it said on the menu) made for a hearty combo.

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The other part of the trio was an obviously banh mi inspired BBQ pork sandwich. I can’t say that it was as good as authentic banh mi that can be had up and down Kingsway, or wherever else you can find Vietnamese sub shops, but it wasn’t bad either. The pickled vegetables were a nice nod, and I’m glad they went with those rather than going with a straight Western interpretation, which may have put the sandwich in Subway territory. Strangely, the stout didn’t play too well with this course; the sub, with its less rich flavour, seemed to be an odd match with the robust meat pie and oatmeal stout.

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This slider was served with Odin Brewing’s Sigrun IPA, which was a straight-up hoppy classic American style IPA. Body was pretty light, but the hop punch was undiminished. I thought it was an above-average bitterness for a single IPA, but not quite DIPA level. The slider itself was pretty standard fare. Since the Pumphouse is clearly looking to elevate its menu beyond typical pub fare with these changes, I think it would be great if they would join the growing trend of allowing customers to choose the doneness of their burger. I realize that this probably requires stricter food handling and ingredient selection/preparation methods, but I still think that it can be done at a pub price point (see Alibi Room).

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Speaking of trends, poutine has been a really trendy item for the past few years. To be honest, I didn’t really like this interpretation. The gravy was too heavy for my taste. I prefer (and I think that tradition requires) a lighter chicken or vegetarian-based gravy, where this poutine used a heavy beef gravy, probably the same as used in the meat pie.

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The Elysian Superfuzz blood orange pale ale was the best part of this pairing. I’m a huge fan of these unusual fruit beers, like the spiced pear ale I had at Hog Shack a while back. The chipotle chopped chicken salad wasn’t as tasty as the winter salad that started off the night. The final part of this trio was an Italian meat lovers’ flatbread, but I’m pretty sure it was just a pizza. Why not just call it a pizza? At best, people will (like me) wonder why a pizza is called a flatbread, but at worst, a customer will order it, thinking they’re getting something different than they are, and be disappointed. In any case, it was an okay pizza/flatbread.

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The last trio was spearheaded by one of my favourite beers (maybe even my favourite beer), Driftwood’s Fat Tug IPA. It’s an extremely fruity IPA that goes beyond the typical bitter-grapefruit citrus characteristic of the style and offers up tropical fruit flavours. This isn’t to say that there’s fruit in it, or that it’s sweet — it’s still very hoppy, but also very well balanced. The food accompaniments were a crispy tempura prawn with sweet chili aioli, as well as butter chicken. The butter chicken was served over rice and was quite spicy, although we were informed that it was toned down from its original recipe! Yikes. As for the tempura prawn, it was only a single bite, but not bad.

After finishing all ten courses, I was full to bursting. Overall, I think that the Pumphouse made an admirable effort to step up their menu, but I can’t say whether it’s better than their old lineup, as I’d never been before. I’d definitely return, for the beer if nothing else!

The Pumphouse Pub
6031 Blundell Road
Richmond, BC
Pumphouse Pub on Urbanspoon