Doolins Irish Pub/The Back Bar

My husband and I were invited to Doolin’s Irish Pub last week to sample their new spring menu items. The restaurant has a back room that will comfortably seat a group, away from the busy sports crowd up front. The atmosphere is friendly and right on the mark for a pub, without being too full with decor as can be the case with busy drinking establishments.

Duck bites - Duck marinated in chipotle & ginger, wrapped in bacon, sweet sesame soy glaze
[Duck bites: Duck marinated in chipotle & ginger, wrapped in bacon, sweet sesame soy glaze, $8]

We were seated at a large wooden table, part of a group of about 15 other media and local food writers. We began the evening with a selection of flatbreads prepared by Spanish chef Nick Gonzalez. The majority of his dishes are prepared in house, including those delicious duck bites shown above ($8). They’re marinated in chipotle and ginger with pickled jalapeños, then wrapped in bacon and glazed with a sweet sesame soy sauce.

Crab & asparagus flatbread
[Crab and asparagus flatbread, $10]

Duck confit flatbread
[Duck confit flatbread, $10]

Mediterranean flatbread
[Mediterranean flatbread, $9]

The three flatbreads on the new menu followed: Crab and asparagus, duck confit, and mediterranean. All three were delicious, however my personal favourite was the crab and asparagus for the combination of fresh crab, asparagus, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, and an Alfredo sauce that nicely baked into the mix.

Pulled beer can chicken sandwich
[Pulled beer can chicken sandwich, $11]

Baja fish sandwich
[Baja-style fish sandwich, $12]

Entrées varied from a Baja fish sandwich to blackened sesame salmon, prepared with a wasabi ginger sesame crust, and served with wild rice and veggies. I ordered the Mahi mahi, served alongside a similar rice and veggie portion. The fish was perfectly cooked but the rice lacked flavour, with bits of red pepper overwhelming what could have been a great rice mix. The fish arrived lightly seared, with a mild broth and salsa.

Blackened crusted salmon
[Blackened sesame salmon, $17]

Pan-seared Mahi Mahi, wild rice and vegetables
[Pan-seared Mahi Mahi, wild rice and vegetables, $16]

While I didn’t try the other entrées, I chose to include them in this article, along with pricing.

Carrot cake with chocolate coffee ice cream
[Carrot cake with chocolate coffee ice cream, $5]

Rounding off our meal was a carrot cake with chocolate and coffee ice cream tasting. I enjoyed the ice cream but the carrot cake could have been store bought. It just didn’t have the rich, traditional flavour that is normally found in a quality carrot cake. It was also too overpowering on the nutmeg front. The featured dessert will change monthly, alongside a couple of regular desserts, including berries and cream, and sticky toffee cake (all $5 each).

Doolin's chef Nick Gonzalez
[Chef Nick Gonzalez]

Chef Gonzalez’s dishes were a recent runner-up at the Georgia Straight’s Golden Plate Awards. Nick’s cooking experience spans over a decade. He’s worked inside many prestigious kitchens across the UK, including stints under Michelin-star chefs at The Greyhound in Hampshire, and St. Enodoc Hotel in Cornwall. Nick has led the team at Doolin’s since 2009, where he maintains Doolin’s philosophy to serve traditional and comfort food, while showcasing fresh, local ingredients.

Red Racer ESB to wash it all down with

Doolin’s features 23 draught beers, daily $6.50 beer specials, in addition to several premium domestic, import and premium import beers. Each month, Doolin’s also features three specially selected local and import brews. This month the taps are Yukon Brewing’s Yukon Red, Central City Brewing’s Red Racer ESB, and Coal Harbour Brewing’s Triumph Cascadian Rye Ale. I chose the Red Racer, its hoppy, bitter yet smooth taste a great compliment to both the flatbreads and duck bites.

A small assortment of ciders and whiskeys are also available. Current red and white wine offerings are from BC, California, Spain, Chile and Argentina.

Doolin’s Irish Pub is located at 654 Nelson Street, at the corner of Granville. Visit the website for opening hours and upcoming events.

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