Pub food made better.
Lighter, healthier, but still
Comfy at The Abbey.
The Abbey on West Pender touts itself as a progressive tavern. I find this amusing since the name of the restaurant and its stain glass mimicking décor alludes to religious institutions that are often far from forward thinking.
I don’t mind grabbing a drink at a pub but dining at one is not my first choice. The food is often deep-fried, unimaginative, stodgy and meat focused. You can also forget about trying to find something healthy.
I had already visited The Abbey in the summer for drinks and snacks. I was impress with the execution of the bar snacks and was curious to see if they could prepare entrees with the same fineness. I finally got my opportunity to return for a quick dinner prior to a Canucks’ game.
My colleague, The Distributor, and I ended up selecting 2 items that are not usual for pubs and two items that are common for British taverns.
The Salt Spring Mussels “Basquaise” dish came in a larger portion than I expected. The use of chorizo, piquillo peppers and tomatoes is where the Basque influence comes from for the dish but it tasted predominantly tomato-y.
Despite the lack of depth in the cooking liquid, the dish was enjoyable simply due to delicious mussels. There were plump, sweet and juicy. We added a side of fries to go along with the mussels. The shoestring fries were fried well – crispy on the outside with a fluffy interior.
The house made sausage roll served with Colman’s mustard arrived next. I enjoyed this popular bar snack in the summer and nothing has changed. There was a nice ratio of pastry to sausage. The sausage was seasoned well.
The pastry was light. The only difference from the summer was the pastry was not as flaky this time around.
A Niçoise salad would probably be the most the anti- pub food I could think of and there it was on the menu. I had to order it and was impressed; the kitchen nailed it.
Beautifully plate it featured seared Albacore tuna that was fresh and melt in your mouth soft. Underneath the boiled fingerling potatoes, green beans, salad greens, perfectly cooked quail egg was a salty and slightly tart tapenade. The olive puree worked very well with the tuna and potatoes.
The last item to arrive was the cheekily plated One Banger & Mash. The Abbey has three different pricing options for the dish depending on if you feel like one, two or three sausages. Smart since not everybody is up for a three bangers night.
I love mashed potatoes and I found the spring onion mashed potato was the best part of the dish. It was light, creamy and fluffy. The mustard infused gravy was not necessary for either the mash or the Toulouse sausage. The banger was seasoned well and juicy. The charred broccoli served more as a garnish and was also superfluous.
Overall I enjoyed my meal at The Abbey. Its food is definitely an improvement on what one can typically find at a pub. The restaurant executes classic tavern fare at a higher level while offering atypical but well prepared healthier dishes as well.
I wish we could have tried a dessert but we were running late for the game. I have something to look forward when I return to The Abbey.