Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub - Left us feeling mauled

I am anti-complaining.  That said, it does have its place in visiting restaurants, as I have seen on recent blog posts from around Vancouver.  Happened to me personally, in fact, at Chronic Tacos - complained about a bit of bone in my chicken burrito, and the manager gave (almost forced me to take) 3 fish tacos in replacement, a $30 gift card, and offered to pay for any damage caused by biting on it.  I was suitably impressed.  At the Black Bear however, my wife and I didn't complain, rather accepted our food rather incredulously and left a minimal tip.  Here's why.

I believe that this is the only pub in the Lynn Valley area of North Vancouver, which is probably why it is always busy.  They have a few little gimmicks on the menu as well, such as being able to choose a variety of meat for your hamburgers, including ostrich.  After we chose a table and sat down, we waited for a few minutes until someone came over to ask for our drink order.  We decided, in the name of saving time, we would order our food as well (we had been there long enough to choose).  We ordered a mixed appy plate to share, and two entrees. 

What shocked me into submission was that when we asked for the burger to be cut in half, the waitress informed us that they would charge a few dollars more for the service.  It is very, very rare that I encounter a place that charges for cutting something in half.  Especially when you order an appy and two mains.  I can see it being a little more justified if you order one main to split between two people; but even then, it is almost the same as ordering a plate of nachos or wings and splitting it - why charge more?  It was something really small, but it really bothered me.

Anyway.  Onto the other stuff.

Platter A:  ($12.99)

This included several items:
  • Hot wings
    • Not particularly hot, in both senses.  I figured this plate must have been sitting around for a while, since they were luke-warm at best.  Yech.  The spice level was lower than I would have liked as well, but that I can understand: every restaurant has its own scaling.
  • Spring Rolls
    • Definitely not made in house.  I figure Costco specials.  Edible, yes, but enjoyable?  I should have stayed with my rule: order things that the place should be good at making.  A pub making Chinese food?  Probably not a good idea.
  • Gyoza
    • See above.  The skins were really, really chewy, and inside was really hot.  Almost as though they'd been microwaved after pan frying.
  • Dry Ribs
    • Compared to some places, like Brown's Social House, these don't stack up.  But if you have them for the sake of having them, you would not regret it.  They aren't bad, but I wouldn't get them as part of a platter because there were so few. 
  • Crudites
    • Fancy word that I learned meant chopped up veggies.  I hate to say it, but these were probably the best part of the plate.  That's sad to me, when you have a plate with five different things, and the best thing was the RAW VEGETABLES!  They don't require any special skill to make - they just need to be purchased fresh.
The worst part about this was that the entrees came out literally seconds after the appetizer plate.  By this point I was getting very frustrated.

North West Tortellini  ($11.99)

The lighting was dark; sorry about the picture :)  You may be suspicious that this dish was terrible as well: Italian food in a western pub.  However, much to my surprise, it was actually very good.  The sauce was surprisingly light, with lots of flavour.  The pasta wasn't cooked too long, but I would almost guarantee it wasn't fresh.  It seemed to be pretty healthy, but I'm sure if you looked closely the sauce would have wrecked your caloric intake for the day.  This is one dish that I would actually recommend.  The only thing I would have liked to have seen would have been more pasta.  They seemed to put extra vegetables in because they lost some pasta on the floor or something.

Tuna Bear Burger ($13.99)

Looks pretty good, eh?  Nicely grilled hunk of tuna, lots of toppings, and a nice cup of soup as a side.  I was thrown off a little by the pickle, but that was a simple solution: there was room on the side of the plate.  I popped the top onto the burger and cut it in half (aggravating the staff, I'm sure, when I used the utensils on the table and avoided the surcharge the kitchen was looking for).  This is what I saw.

I mean COME ON.  Less than HALF of the width of the bun has tuna in it.  I'd say the tuna filled about a third of the bun.  The ratio of tuna to burger, after adding in the bread and vegetables, was definitely not good.  Heck, even bread to vegetables was bad.  I have had so many tuna burgers from so many bars, restaurants, and little mom and pop shops, and this one was easily the worst I have ever had set in front of me.

There was hardly any point in eating it at all.  Nonetheless, being a trooper, I took a bite.  The bread was dry.  If I had to guess, I would have said it was a week old: it stuck to my mouth and crumbled in my hands.  You couldn't taste the tuna through the bread, mayo, and vegetables, and the combination of old bread, small, thin piece of fish, and lackluster construction, conspired to make this the new bottom end for me in terms of judging tuna burgers.  And to think they wanted to charge extra to cut it in half.

I was so incredibly disappointed that I may not give them another chance.

Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub on Urbanspoon


  1. Nice to see another folk in North Van. New food blogger here. I wrote one just recently about the Black Bear, nice to read yours on here! I'd be down to exchange links if you are, looking forward to reading more.

    - Matt

  2. Hiya Matt ~ you've got quite a nice blog going! I will agree about Raglan's - great food! Went there a few times before starting this :) I've added you to my links!


Map of Restaurants

Zoom in/out with the +/- buttons. Click on a pin to go get the review and directions.
View Restaurants in a larger map