Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Steve and I visited the Bard and Banker Pub one Friday night before a poetry reading. The first sign that our experience was going to be less than stellar was the presence of a piano dude hammering away at athe ivories butchering Billy Joel cover tunes. I am mystified the owners would opt to provide the kind of entertainment no one really likes early in the evening when people want to talk, relax and decompress from their work day. If one MUST have the cheesy piano player (and I wonder why it is even necessary when 99% of the planet hates this sort of thing) it would be prudent do it later in the evening when people are either drunk enough to sing along or too drunk to care. Even though we were seated on the second floor of the pub the amplifier ensured we still had to shout at one another across our tiny table.

We concentrated on the menu - conversation was rendered moot by the din of the “music”. I opted for a cocktail instead of my usual dark beer. I tried a “Pimm’s cocktail since I’d had a delicious facsimile at Canoe pub and found the slightly gingery concoction addictive. Bard’s Pimm’s was disappointing, not enough sweetness to balance the palate. I would have been better off trying one of Bard’s ample beer selections. We decided on a cup of the tomato cod chowder to start. The chowder was delicious, creamy with ample chunks of fresh cod. For mains I chose the mushroom taglietelle and Steve opted for the curry. My pasta was ably cooked but at 20$ awfully pricey and could have been more flavorful and ample in portion. Only a few mushrooms dotted the plate. Steve’s curry came in a small ramekin. Steve’s curry was merely ordinary, bland and generic without distinctive assertive flavors. Given the portion size left room to spare in our bellies we opted for dessert. Bard does a wonderful Sticky Toffee Pudding with just the right hit of decadent sweetness without being overpowering. It’s served with a creamy caramel ice cream and a delicious gooey toffee sauce. I opted for the white chocolate and nut brownie. This dessert was a big bummer. Again, a teeny portion of dry, hard brownie with oh so trendy cranberries (which don’t really go with peanut butter). Service throughout was polite and personable but a wee bit slow towards the end.

I must profess that in spite of my enthusiastic food nerdiness I abhor pretention and I’d be happy to see the gastro pub trend abate and go back to old fashioned pub fare (i.e. comfort food in sustaining portions) at affordable prices. Many of the menu prices at Bard and Banker are in the fine dining range (18$ for fish and chips, many menu items are over $20) and cocktails for 8$. For this price range I expect only excellence and this just didn’t make the cut. The din of the dreadful music don’t make this an appealing spot for a beer and nachos, despite the beautiful renovations. The d├ęcor is lovely for certain. On a previous visit to B&B Steve and I each had a beef and chicken pot pie and they were delicious with a lovely puff pastry crust and refreshing side salad. On our last visit, the pot pies were no longer on the menu. For my part I am going to continue my search for a pub with delicious homemade food at prices that won’t break the bank. Reader suggestions welcome!
Bard and Banker on Urbanspoon

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