I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
What’s happened to the College Height’s Pub? I’ve not seen a transformation like this since I first changed Optimus into a truck.
(Full disclosure, my first Transformer was Skywarp, followed by Sideswipe; Optimus would come later).
Someone should’ve told the owners of the College Heights Pup that they’re not located in downtown Vancouver. I had another paragraph all versed in my noggin complaining that reviewing pubs was a waste of time as no one in their lucid sense would eat at one in the afternoon, especially with so many better places around, ones that are designed to cater around a lunch crowd, ones that offer, dare I say, ethnic distinction. If one was limited to just burgers and wraps, one could elect any number of competing locations, most of which have an apostrophe in their name (Arby’s, Wendy’s, etc). The last time I was at College Heights Pub, or CHP to the non-abbreviatedly-challenged, it fell into that cliché I was primed to mock—wooden walls, scotch-guarded tables, and more flat-panel TVs than the Architect’s office in Matrix Reloaded. The new very recently renovated CHP still contains the DNA of its progenitor, but it’s also so much more than that.
When I arrived, I was greeted by the already vandalized sliding doors breaching into a featureless black waiting area dominated by a massive glass-sealed fireplace. From my limited vantage, I could tell instantly that they spared no expense in this overhaul. Tile and shale and custom-built wood dominated every crevice. It was unrecognizable, and from what I heard, took only two months to complete (compared to a basement suite which apparently takes three, still bitter).
It was intended that I be greeted by a “Take a Seat” sign, but that had yet to be put up. Instead, I was greeted by a plain brown podium manned by what looked like a motion sensor. That’s odd. I half-expected—and kind of hoped—that it would trigger a drop-down TV screen with a faux computer generated “Max Headroom” that would direct me to a table. I’m just saying someone missed a hat trick here. Eventually, I was told by a passing server to take my own seat, which I did, one in full view of the vacant dance floor. Burgundy wooden walls were edged by gray posts surrounding marble and glass tables bordered by red and beige chairs, the latter looking like they’d been swiped from a Tate Modern exhibit. My seat allowed me an unobstructed vista of seven televisions, twenty plus tables, and one of the most beautiful servers I’ve ever seen. Am I sexist by suggesting she was as much part of the decor as those bizarre double garage doors that offered the impression the CHP was built out of an autobody shop? As she walked by again, I suddenly couldn’t remember any counter argument I was preparing to make. I’m single, it’s a side effect. I realized she had a clear view of the remaining errant hairs on my head that refused to fall out with the rest which vacated years ago. I went awkward—a side effect of seeing someone so striking. I suddenly became ashamed of my own ugliness. I stared at the dance floor rather than her face, even later when she started a conversation about the progress of my writing. I faked embarrassment that I was writing a review of this very establishment and we shared a brief (I’d like to think intelligent) conversation about higher education. Since I’m safe in assuming there was no legitimate expression of interest, I’ll conclude it was all part of CHP’s staggering level of customer service and include that in my appraisal.
Excluding the employment, the CHP is by far the best looking pub in town (thus far reviewed). The server suggested the spicy minestrone special, and I added onto it with the signature clubhouse. The plating on both was superb, with the soup being presented with two side buns and creamed butter. The three-storey clubhouse was so immense, I felt like the ape stroking the monolith about to being gifted with the spark of creativity. Huge chunks of chicken, lettuce and layers of bacon were literally falling from between the stratums of sourdough. The mountain of fries collapsed the moment the supporting sandwich was removed, with a few fries spilling onto the floor. This was an unbelievable amount of food for the price. Thankfully, it was also good. It’s difficult for me to admit it, but CHP is the kind of pub I could enjoy outside of sporting events, fear I say, even when I go for lunch.
I still won’t as I reserve those hankering moments for when I desire sushi or pho. But for everyone else, the CHP is a worthy alternative. Like Westwood, you know where it’s located by its title, but given the region and the way CHP is nestled on all four sides by forest, you could still miss it. It’s so isolated from the rest of neighborhood, it has its own road. Competition here is relatively spartan, with the only alternatives being Original Joes and the Cazba Mediterranean Cafe. I’ve been to both and feel conflicted. Despite being a chain, Joes has not steered me wrong; I’ve had two incredible experiences there thus far. Cazba wasn’t too shabby either. I would definitely say that if you’re looking for an actual pub experience, like if you want to watch a game or down fifteen pints like being inebriated was required to stave off a zombie horde, the CHP would be your best option. Even if half-way across town, I’d still prefer it. It’s important to note that unlike Westwood or Ric’s Grill, I don’t feel like I fell off the wagon by passing through their doors in the afternoon. This felt like it could simulate a restaurant experience when not being a destination for UFC.
At some point, I should mention some negative points. I mean it’s a pub after all. Umm…the music raining from the distant speakers were mostly dated top forty hits of the country variety. The tables were still scotch-guarded. I also noted the clientele, like all pubs apparently, was stacked with people old enough to have voted for Trudeau…the older one. So I felt a little out of place. In contrast, CHP has the best looking bar in town, with track lighting running around the edge, a huge fireplace matching the one that I saw upon entering, and stacks of wine like it was a set piece from the film Sideways. I also can’t find any alcohol advertisements. I’m sure they’re hiding somewhere. Has CHP not read the pub playbook? Paraphrasing the employer from Office Space, a pub in Canada requires at least thirty pieces of alcoholic flare. Where are the Coronet indoor umbrellas? Where are the cheap Budweiser Neon signs that always have at least one broken letter? Where is the keno machine? It’s got to be around here somewhere. No wonder someone shattered their door already—the CHP obviously doesn’t respect what the common lager lover or drunk demands in where they satiate their addiction. Homer Simpson would be ashamed. For the rest of the civilized human species that doesn’t run scotch in their veins, CHP is so far the best pub I’ve encountered…with or without the erudite bombshells.