Wings! (Updated)

Here is the updated review of the Islands wings, dated July 2011:

A little over a month ago, I did a review of the best wings on the island. Since then, a few things have changed. For one, the Longwood Brewpub has changed up their game. They’ve finally introduced a spicy wing, which I believe I might have recommended! And – wouldn’t you know it? – Craig Street changed theirs, with dire consequences! So the following changes need to be made to my ratings:

Longwood Brewpub: 5/5!! Once a runner-up to Craig’s because of a lack of spiciness, this baby now makes the best wings on the island! While the jalapeno wings have been around for some time, they possessed just a little kick, not the spicey punch in the gullet I personally crave! But with the addition of the suicide hots, that’s all remedied! Plump, tasty, well-prepared, and now nice and spicey! Best wings on the island!

Canoe Club: 4.5/5 Comparable to the better wings I’ve had on the island as of late, and with the decline of some of my favorite places, the Canoe Club just might become my new go-to wing place! They were plump, juicy, had a good level of spice, and came with a damn good blue cheese sauce. And unlike some other places, the sauce seemed to consist more of just Franks Red Hot. Nothing personal, but if you’re making wings, it seems lazy not to make your own sauce!

Craig Street Brewpub: 3/5… A sad day indeed! Not long ago, my wife and I went back to our favorite watering holes, right up there with Swans and Spinnakers. I was wary, having had wings there that were clearly different once already. But this visit confirmed my worst fears: they’ve changed the wings and not for the better! They took what was an original and turned it into a generic knock-off! Whereas they were trim and tastily glazed with sauce, now they’re thick skinned and slathered in it! And the sauce has changed too, I swear to God its just Franks Red Hot with some added chili flakes! Not impressed Craig’s! You had the best wings and for some reason, you decided to downgrade. And the serving I had last time was dry, overcooked, and oversauced. I choose to believe this was an aberration, which is why I’m only dropping you two grades!

(New mention!) Glo Nightclub: 3.5/5 located on the Gorge, this posh “Euro pub and Grill” does a pretty good spread. Their wings are not stellar, but they get the job done, especially when paired with a spinach salad (never liked the beets though!). The sauce is basic, Frank’s Red Hot, but at least they tell you that up front. And like most of the menu, they’re not cheap, but when you sit down and take in the atmosphere, decent food, many taps and house music playing the background, you’ll know where your money went. Been a few times and plan to go back!

http://www.longwoodbrewpub.com/salads.html

http://glovictoria.com/menu

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The Longwood Brewpub

This review is from awhile back, dated May of 2011. But since its of one of my favorite restaurants and watering holes on the Island, I can’t NOT include it. If you’re in Nanaimo, check it out!

I’ve been wanting to do this review for awhile now, but lacked the means.  It’s a venerated place that’s been around for close to a decade AND was voted as Nanaimo’s best pub for four years, running from 2006 to 2009.  Yep, I am referring to Longwood!

http://www.longwoodbrewpub.com/

For starters, this place scored immediate points with me in that they are a brewpub.  That is to say, they are a microbrewery and make their own beer on the premises.  I’ve sampled most of them and can attest to them all! 

Longwood Ale: not bad as a starting ale.  It’s mild, not too bitter or complex on the palate, clean aftertaste. Inoffensive all around.

Czech Pilsner: a very nice variation on the traditional Czech beer, clean, crisp, with a nice lingering, but subtle, aftertaste.

India Pale Ale: many people have a problem with this traditional ale.  It can be overpowering at the best of times, too fruity and too hoppy all at once.  But I seriously enjoy this version.  It has a nice fruity taste, plenty of aroma and a good solid bitter aftertaste.  Like a nice punch in the gullet!

Dunkelweizenbrau: this is a nice combination of a dark beer and a wheat beer.  It has a tawny flavor that works on a couple levels.  It is subtle, deep, and yet refreshing, everything you’d expect from a dunkel and a weizen.

Weizenbock: haven’t tried this one in awhile, but I do recall how much I enjoyed it!  A strong wheat ale is one nature’s most perfect foods (that’s right, beer IS food!  Deal with it!) Strong yet smooth, refreshing and tasty.

Extra Special Bitter (ESB): a favorite of mine, and Longwood’s happens to be one of the best I’ve ever tasted.  It’s got all that’s right about a bitter to it.  A nice, crisp, bitter taste with a lingering, tawny aftertaste.  The quality comes through in the careful balance of lightness, bitterness, and deep complexity.  Not sure how they do it, but I like it! 

Oatmeal Stout: geez, everybody’s doing an Oatmeal Stout these days!  And you know what?  Most of them aint’ half bad!  This one is one such none-too-bad number.  It’s got rich, deep hop tones with a heavy tannin flavour that comes from dark, roasted oats and barley! One of the better microbrewed stouts I’ve had on the island. 

Framboise: this one is not a favorite of mine, but only because I don’t do the fruity beers if at all possible.  Still, if I were a fruit beer guy, this would be my go-to!  It’s got a genuine tart and sweet rasberry flavour that is a perfect compliment to its light, refreshing flavour.  Nothing artificial about it.

Barley Wine: I took a case of this camping to Pachena Bay.  In all honesty, its not the best barley wine I’ve ever tasted.  Barley wine, by nature, is both sweet and hoppy, richly malty and complex, and has a strong tannin flavour.  It’s dark beer on steriods, essentially.  This one has just about all of that going, except for the sweetness.  It’s not especially hoppy either.  Mainly, its just strong and tawny. In a nutshell, good, not great.  Hate to say it considering how much I love the place and it’s beer, but it’s only because they set the bar so high that I felt a tad bit underwhelmed.

They have others, but I either can’t remember what they taste like or haven’t had them out of lack on interest.  Hope the above reviews are enough for the curious and enthusiastic.

Okay, now to the food!

Obviously, I can’t attest to the quality of everything, but there a few items I have had a few times and am prepared to rave about… 

Crab Cakes: I’ve been to many pubs that served crab cakes before, sampled them whenever possible, and I thought that these were among the best.  They were fresh, crunchy on the outside, rich and delicious on the inside!

Sweet Potato Fries: always a favorite of island pub-goers!  Again, one of the best variety I’ve tried.  Rivalled only by Swan’s in Victoria.

Wings: I’m a wing man!  I go to bars specifically to see how their wings stack up. The whiskey bbq jalapeno wings are some of the best I’ve had.  Not too spicey, which I love and demand, but they got a real nice rich flavour that is perfectly complimented by some blue cheese dressing.  Not to mention they are always plump and never overcooked.  Hate it when that happens!  

Spinach Salad: a nice light salad, good combination of sweet, fresh and salty flavours.  A perfect accompaniment to a plate of wings or fries and some beer.

Brewmaster’s Salad: looks good on paper, looks good on your plate, not so good when you taste it though!  You’d think the combination of seafood, chicken cheese and salad would be an instant hit, but it isn’t!  It’s cold, fishy, and overpowering.  In terms of the overall menu, it’s a rare miss! 

Burger: it’s awesome!  Handmade patties, grainy mayo, and the smoked cheddar is especially good!

Beef Dip: awesome for the same reasons.  Piled high shaved beef that is always fresh when I order it.  And of course, smoked cheddar to compliment.

Fettucini: one thing I love about their pastas is the freedom to make your own.  I have tried the fettucini with chicken and cream sauce, and it was amazingly tasty and satisying.

In total, I give Longwood’s a 9 out of 10.  That one point deduction is largely because of the brewmaster salad, but the remaining nine points are well deserved!  The reliable menu and great beer selection make for a killer combination that brings me back over and over.  The only other drawback is the price, dinner and beers is kind of expensive, but well worth it. In short, when you eat the food and drink the beer, you’ll know where that money went!

The Canoe Club

Here is my latest restaurant review, dated October 16th, 2011.

Here’s a restaurant and brewpub that I’ve been wanting to review for months, but never seemed to get around to. It was completely by coincidence that I ended up there one night, but I figured as long as I was there, I might as well take notes! In addition to their taps, I was able to sample a small array of their food and came away quite pleased. As usual, I will start with the taps!

Red Canoe Lager: This lager is light, summery and has a nice nutty finish to it. Very good with spicey food (like wings!) or as a hot summer beverage. 3.75/5

Siren’s Song Pale Ale: This microbrew reminded me of Fat Tug IPA, one of my favorite beers in recent memory. It’s crisp, has a good malt taste and has a strong hop profile that is reminiscent of grapefruit and other citrus fruits. Definitely one of the better pales I’ve tried of late. 4.5/5

Beaver Brown: This ale is a good example of Victoria browns, similar to Spinnakers and Swans. The taste is smoky and tawny, but also smooth and with a nice nutty aftertaste. 4/5

Riverock Bitter: This beer is a perfect example of an ESB. Dry hopped, clean malty taste, and with a robust finish. Definitely one of the better microbrewed bitters I’ve had. 4/5

Honey Wheat: This seasonal beer is definitely one of the lightest Canoe has on tap. Like the lager, the flavor is clean and summery, but the tinge of honey grows on the palate. Perfect for spicy food, hot weather and drinking on the patio. 3.75/5

Now for the food. It doesn’t come cheap, but when you eat it, you know where the money went.

Flatbreads: I can honestly say that the presentation alone was worth the price. Served in margherita pizza fashion, it consists of cherry tomatoes, basil, crushed olives, arugula pesto, olive oil and smoked sea salt. Fresh baked and tasty!

Wings: Comparable to the better wings I’ve had on the island as of late, and with the decline of some of my favorite places, the Canoe Club just might become my new go-to wing place! They were plump, juicy, had a good level of spice, and came with a damn good blue cheese sauce. And unlike some other places, the sauce seemed to consist more of just Franks Red Hot. Nothing personal, but if you’re making wings, it seems lazy not to make your own sauce!

And now deserts…

Creme Brulee: Like wings, spinach salads, and beer, here is another thing that I like to sample wherever I can! And the Canoe’s was not only delicious, but also excelled in the key departments of consistency and firmness.

Ice Cream Sandwich: I can’t imagine a desert worth dying for, but I think this one might be worth killing for! Decadent, chocolately, good vanilla ice cream, and with fresh baked tasty cookie to sandwich it!

We shall be going back! That Winter Ale looks delectable and I haven’t had my fill of their food yet. Expect an updated review! To finish, here’s a pic my wife took the last time we were there: