Restaurant Review: Irish Heather, Vancouver BC

Step one in fulfilling my “must-do list” for fall….. reviewing more restaurants.  Check!

Singing for your dinner has been a phrase used loosely but never actually enforced; last night, I was lucky enough to participate in a restaurant first – based entirely on that phrase.  Pit for your Supper is an event that has been occurring every Wednesday since July 18, 2012.  It involves 1,000 pounds of pears (originally cherries but varies with the changing of the season), a 40 foot table (a.k.a. the long table) and 50 volunteers.  The idea is that guests pitch in to core each pear, and in gratitude you are awarded a gourmet meal, a beer, and great conversation amongst friends and complete strangers.  

 The Irish Heather – part of the Heather Hospitality Group – is a GastroPub located in the heart of Gastown.  Perfectly in sync with the historical ambiance of the neighbourhood, the Irish Heather stands out as a beacon of authenticity for being owned by Irish people who actually work there.

I have been lucky enough to attend a number of “long table series” (http://ltsmenu.blogspot.ca/) dinners at this particular establishment, as well as a couple of the other fine restaurants under the same umbrella; namely Salt Tasting Room, and the Shebeen.  
For a number of reasons, the experience was one in a million.  The produce extracted is exhausted by the numerous restaurants under Heather Hospitality Group.  In my mind, a great boost for the quality of food you will find – particularly because you can cut a bit of labour cost (ie. that guy you pay $9/hour to sit in the back of the kitchen peeling potatoes) and allot that money to food cost, as well as the concentration of your other staff to put forward perfection.  
The beer presented (and it changes each time) was the Fat Tug IPA, from the Driftwood Brewery in Victoria, BC.  The Driftwood Brewery is the fasted growing brewery in BC.  It was opened about 4 years ago with absolutely nothing and, according to one of the owners who was presenting, has now amounted to hiring on their 15th staff member at the end of last week.  The ideals of the two companies are completely in sync; each has a long-standing commitment to using local produce. The Fat Tug IPA was a bitter, hoppy beer with an apricot and peach undertone.  In my mind, a perfect accompaniment to the food we were served. 
After approximately 2 hours of coring pears, we were presented a plate of Spiced Pork Loin with Potato Salad and Fresh Cut Slaw.  A nod to the summer that is coming to a close, and a welcome introduction of robust spices and Louisiana style sauces (vinegar-based).  
In all honesty, if this was my first time eating here I would have been quite disappointed in the food.  My pork was quite dry – although, perhaps it was my piece, as my sisters was not.  The spice blend was delicious and the smoke was subtle, yet sweet and inviting. 
I had a couple of under-cooked potatoes, and unfortunately did find the salad, itself, to be quite bland. The slaw was crisp and flavourful, yet it didn’t wow me.  It was a basic coleslaw.  
I am upset with myself that I have to be so blunt about the food, however…. as I mentioned, this was not my first “rodeo” with this establishment.  I have always had delicious dishes produced from quite talented chefs.  Their Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, Seasonal Vegetables and Roasting Jus that they serve at the “Long Table Series” is absolutely TO DIE FOR. I can only hope that my Yorkshire puddings come out anything close to how theirs do when I make Thanksgiving dinner… Also, the people around me licked their plates clean, therefore perhaps I was being a bit too particular. 
Having said that I whole-heatedly recommend this restaurant, and for that matter; any of the other 6 restaurants under the Heather Hospitality Group (http://irishheather.com/).  As mentioned, the experience of  “Pit for your Supper” is one that I believe everyone has to see for themselves.  It is only unfortunate that I found out about it last week, and their last one for the summer is next Wednesday.  I will certainly keep my eyes and ears peeled for when they start up again next year.  
Happy Eating, Friends! 
XOX
Ally

*This experience was completely paid for out of my own pocket. The Irish Heather did not ask me to write this post/nor did they pay for any of my meal – truthfully… I paid for it by the 2 hours of pear coring I did…. 🙂

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