My good buddy Kim is a bacon-holic, so when I got an email inviting me to a Bacon Tasting, I knew it was from him! We were joined by Sherman, and our little trio travel all the way to Surrey to check out the Central City Brewing Co. located at the SFU*/Central City Shopping Centre (yes, they used “centre” *and* “central” when naming this mall).
I forgot my camera and my phone so Kim’s amazing photographs will have to fill in 🙂
I was surprised that a pub (and a pub in a mall, of all places) would be offering a tasting menu. Sure, it’s a bacon tasting menu, but still! I should also point out that the bacon tasting menu was a special for the month of September only – but we added a few items off their regular menu too – just for our readers 😉
The Bacon Tasting Menu was a three-course offering with three glasses of their home brew for $35. The boys don’t drink a lot, so I got the lion’s share of the beers!
The Bacon & Corn Cakes was offered as the appetizer for the Bacon Tasting. These were small pancakes with a bit of corn and bacon mixed into the batter. There was quite a bit of sweetness both in the pancake itself as well as the white sauce that was drizzled on top. I found that the paprika sprinkled over everything and the green onion added good flavour contrasts.
Next up was the Country Bacon Terrine – served with a side salad and “house pickled veg”, mustard and some crostini. To me, this wasn’t a main course – this was like another appetizer! The terrine was very dense and served cold (not room temperature, which would have made it much easier to spread on the toasted bread). The flavours weren’t very strong either, and definitely not bacon-y. If anything, this tasted a bit of mace or nutmeg. There did seem to be a piece of bacon wrapped around the outside of the terrine, but that actually made it harder to eat. The salad was very nice, as were the “assortment of pickles” (though 2 slices of zucchini, a few onions and a few small cornichons were not quite as many as I was hoping to get).
The final course from the tasting menu was our favourite: the Maple chocolate bacon cheesecake. Though not huge, this was excellent cheesecake, with a nice crisp graham-cracker crust, and a very smooth and dense cheesecake top. The cheesecake didn’t have any of the special ingredients incorporated in it, rather, these were sprinkled over the desert. Pure maple syrup and cocoa nib were high-end choices for this desert, and the bacon bits were nice and crispy.
The three beers that were offered with the tasting menu were pretty good matches for the food: The Red Racer Lager (served with the corn cakes) was definitely my favourite, as it was the least bitter. The ESS and the Stout were much more bitter and burnt-tasting (as they tend to be), but despite my personal preference, I thought these beers were well-matched to the dishes they were paired with.
On to the regular menu!
We were very impressed with the Bacon & Bleu cheese Mussels (surprisingly we didn’t have enough bacon from the regular menu!) which came beautifully presented in a deep white bowl, with fresh herbs, and a large piece of garlic toast. These were large, plump mussels, and all but one were opened. The broth was well balanced and flavourful with nice pieces of bacon and little crumbs of bleu cheese throughout the dish.
More food? Oh yes! We also ordered a Margherita Pizza. At around 10″ this was a thin-crust version with thin pieces of tomato, basil and mozzarella. The guys didn’t seem to like the big pieces of tomato or that the basil was cooked so much; I didn’t find that to be so much of a problem, but I wish the overall dish had been served warmer so that the cheese would been more melty.
We should have really stopped at the pizza, but instead, we ordered this Central City Brewing Company Fried Chicken (large version). I think we were all under the impression that this would be cut-up pieces of fried chicken, but instead we got this tenderloin-like stuffed chicken breast that had a savoury cream cheese filling, and a heavy buttermilk crust. While the flavours were okay, I don’t think any of us liked the texture of the filling since it was quite wet. The sides of coleslaw and baked macaroni & cheese were pretty bad. The coleslaw had a ton of dressing on it, and the mac & cheese was kind of gritty textured (likely the cheese sauce had been overcooked), and generally kind of blah. Pretty big disappointment overall – and surprising that they’d assign their restaurant name to what we found to be the least impressive dish of the night.
Service varied from super-friendly and attentive, to a few slips where, for instance, the last beer to go with the tasting menu was forgotten even after a first and second request. It wasn’t particularly busy, and there seemed to be plenty of staff on hand, so I was surprised that this was our experience.
So, final verdict: Central City Brewing Co. certainly has some winners (like the mussels and the cheesecake), so, as long as you choose wisely, you’ll get a very good meal that would be quite nice for a restaurant, and all the more surprising for a pub. But choose poorly, and yikes, not good. 😦
*Apparently this pub is very popular among the students who attend the Surrey campus at SFU, so I’ve listed it as an SFU Eatery