Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Can’t Ever Remember Hearing Chuck Say . . .

“Man, this is a great salad.” Or “I’m really enjoying this salad.” But more on that later.

After our stroll through Gastown and before catching the Skytrain back to Surrey, we wanted lunch. There before us was the Steamworks Brewing Co., just a few steps (OK, maybe a block) from the train station. Since we didn’t have a destination in mind, we decided that this was the place.

Since the restaurant first opened in 1995, Steamworks has been a favorite of Vancouver locals and visitors alike. “Steamworks gets its name from the famous Gastown steam line that runs through our premises. The Gastown Brewing Company, which is located onsite and brews Steamworks beers, uses steam to fire its kettles. The instant heat of steam allows for greater brewing finesse, and most importantly great tasting beer. Whether you're in the mood for a thirst quenching Lions Gate® lager, or a full bodied HeriocaTM Oatmeal Stout, we've got a beer to please your palate.” (From the restaurant’s web site.)

Steamworks Brewing Co. is a fairly large restaurant which gives the impression of being small and intimate. There is a good-sized outside dining patio, and inside the space is divided into smaller rooms on different levels. We took our seats in the bar area and had the booth nearest the open double doors. We had all of the advantages of fresh air dining without being subjected to the somewhat chilly wind.

The menu listed many enticing options. Starters included: Beer Soup made with grilled chicken breast, roasted carrot, celery, and onion brewed with Lion's Gate Lager® (named after a Vancouver bridge); Grilled Chicken Satay Skewers—marinated chicken tenders, spicy Indonesian peanut sauce; or Grilled Tandoori Chicken Skewers—tandoori seasoned chicken tenders with a raita dipping sauce.

Salads included: a Blackened Salmon Caesar with salsa, romaine lettuce, garlic baked croutons, and fresh parmesan; a Southwest Chicken Salad with Southwest spice-rubbed chicken, black bean and corn salsa, sour cream, guacamole, fried tortilla strips, romaine, and ranchero dressing; and a Shrimp and Mango Salad with Pacific hand-peeled shrimp, chopped mango, jicama, mesclun greens, and citrus vinaigrette. Or, there were Fish Soft Tacos with flash-fried basa, Pacific hand-peeled shrimp, coleslaw, sesame lime mayo, guacamole, and salsa and served with a house salad. Or, since salmon is always a favorite, I could have Salmon Wellington fresh tarragon and a white wine cream sauce and a house salad.

But I knew what I wanted. As the hostess was seating us, I happened to notice the woman in the booth behind us eating a very large and very tasting looking sandwich which was served with a large side salad. I learned from our waitress that this was the Turkey Club. Now a turkey club might not sound exciting, but this was an extraordinary turkey club. First, it was served on very good grilled sourdough bread. Second, this was real thick-sliced roasted turkey like you have at home the day after Thanksgiving and not turkey cold cuts. Third, the smoky bacon was thick sliced. And fourth, this was all served with a chunky guacamole and lettuce and tomato. This was the king of turkey clubs.

While we were looking at the menu, I mentioned to Chuck that Montreal Smoked Meat was a Canadian favorite. Since neither of us knew what this is, Chuck asked our waitress and she said that it was similar to pastrami. The smoked meat sandwich on marbled rye toast with Dijon mustard and roasted garlic mayo sounded so interesting that Chuck, usually no culinary trail blazer, elected to have this for his lunch. The sandwich was delicious. The meat’s color, texture, and moistness reminded us of corned beef, but the aromatic taste of the spices did indeed remind us of pastrami.

I later did some on-line research and learned that, as is the case with many food items, there is some controversy about the meat’s preparation. Should it be corned or brined like corned beef? No, say the purists. The meat (frequently brisket) is rubbed with spices and left alone to “marinate” for a period of days prior to smoking. Whatever. We loved it.

Both of the sandwiches were so good that we decided to share the bounty and we each ate half of each sandwich.

Now to the salad that came with each of our meals. The menu calls this “The Transcontinental Salad.” I don’t know what that means, but the salad’s base was mesclun greens that were very lightly dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled with the mildest of goat cheeses along with dried blueberries, dried cranberries, and roasted almonds. Every individual component of this salad was excellent by itself, especially the mild and ultra creamy goat cheese, and each component was magnified by being combined with the others.

Is it appropriate to award a sandwich and salad lunch 5.0 Addies? Well, it’s my blog and I’ll do it if I want to.

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