By: Mark Sutherland
In the heart of Vancouver’s historic Gastown lies The Irish Heather Pub. A staple that is known for their extensive selection of Whisk(e)y, the Heather (as locals refer to it) is also a gastropub serving up some of the finest pub grub in town! And really, calling the food at the Irish Heather pub grub isn’t fair to the creative, modern and refreshing twists that they’ve put on many of their dishes.
Ever since I visited Scotland as a kid, the Scotch Egg has been one of my favourite pub snacks! The Irish Heather Pub steps this classic up by using a nearly hard-boiled free-range egg (the yolk is still a stitch runny), then wraps the egg in fresh and delightfully spiced sausage meat, finally encrusting the ball in Panko bread crumbs for a nice little crunch ($8). While it was complemented nicely with their Guinness wholegrain mustard spread, I typically like my scotch egg with a higher ratio of sausage to egg.
We also started with their Chicken Liver Pâté ($8) which came with a house made compote, and baguette crostini. This is a must-have! The buttery and smooth, yet light, texture of the pâté with their rhubarb compote on crostini was essentially the grown-up version of PB&J. We could’ve eaten a few more jars of this one. Easily.
We stuck with a couple more traditional dishes for the main course. The Featured Pie of the Night ($16) was a combination of lamb, veal and pork cheeks with seasonal veggies and gravy. Made in their bakeshop, the light and flaky crust with nice plump tender hunks of cheek was hearty, savoury and comforting.
Mike Vitow’s Corned Beef & Cabbage with mash and parsley sauce ($20) was also a hit. The beef was perfectly salted, and was so nicely braised it falls apart on its own. For those who know their corned beef, there’s often a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Not here. The parsley sauce even gives it a certain freshness. Another highlight on the menu!
The thought of dessert at this point seemed a bit daunting, so we took the opportunity to explore the whiskey menu. With an International array of choices as well as whiskey-based cocktails, we were at a bit of a loss. Thankfully Daniel, helping us out behind the bar, told us about a few different flights that the staff put together and rotate every couple of months to help patrons in our predicament.
Our flight had every thing from light and crisp to deep and peaty. Whiskey Flights are not on the menu, so just ask! They range from $15-$35 depending on how adventurous you want to get. Even the cocktails, like the Ruby Twist (an Irish Whiskey take on the Manhattan), are a great way to ease someone into whiskey if they’re not sure about sipping them straight up just yet.
Flight (Left to Right): Glenrothes Select Reserve, Glenmorangie ‘Quinta Ruban’, Highland park 10yr, Bruichladdich ‘Laddie Classic’
For dessert, two words. Bread. Pudding. And with fruit compote. How could we say no? Desserts rotate at the Heather but make sure you leave some room. The bread pudding was a seemingly light and delectable way to cap off the meal, not being as dense and eggy as others. Let’s just say it didn’t take long for the pudding to disappear.
Often featuring live traditional Irish music as well as an always friendly crowd in front and behind the bar, The Irish Heather Pub is a great place to get together after work with friends or colleagues (great Happy Hour specials!). One could easily while away a Saturday evening tasting the impressive selection of whiskeys or checking out their Long Table Series dinners on Sundays.
— Mark Sutherland