Sunday, March 20, 2011


We had a friend visit recently and thought he'd enjoy some classic pub fare so we headed down to Spinnakers.  This pub is a beloved watering hole for many locals.  While our server was delightful and the beer delicious the food fell short of our expectations.  Spinnakers does have more wallet friendly prices than many of the gastro pubs in town. The atmosphere in the restaurant is very appealing with romantic harbor views and the lights of the city winking from the large windows.   To their credit, Spinnakers makes an effort to source local cheeses, seafood, meat and vegetables.  The problem is the execution of the dishes.  Steve and I had visited a previous time and shared the pulled pork nachos.  Ostensibly from the menu description this sounded delicious.  Unfortunately, there was little cheese on the nachos and what cheese was there had completely dried and welded on to the chips.  The pulled pork was tasty and a fun addition but I am fussy about the cheese to chip ratio on nachos.  There has to be a good amount of gooey cheese not just rock hard burned bits.  The accompanying salsa was bland and uninspiring.  I must profess I prefer the tomato version of salsa to the green version when it comes to nachos.  It just goes better.  On that occasion we sat in the pub part upstairs which isn't quite as appealing for atmosphere.  The service on this visit was pleasant and professional and I did enjoy my glass of homemade chocolatey ale.
Spinnakers on Urbanspoon
Now, back to our most recent visit to the Brewpub.  Our friend opted to have the moules frites while Steve and I decided to try one of the three course tasting menus priced at a very reasonable 25$.  We had a choice of three separate appetizers, entrees and desserts.  Steve asked for the seafood chowder to start.  I asked for the beetroot and potato pakoras.  Steve's chowder was flavorful and chock full of seafood and accompanied by homemade bread.  My pakoras were tasty if not exceptional.  I would have preferred a little more spice but addition of the beetroot added an appealing earthiness.   Entrees were disappointing.  David's moules frites had good mussels but too few of them for an entree portion.  Our pasta sauce was bland and the pasta underdone and under sauced.   The sauce itself was overly thick and claggy. We should have taken note that the server suggested adding lots of pepper (i.e. warning the dish would be bland).  I didn't taste the leeks that were supposed to be in the sauce at all and we found the sausage in the dish very uninspiring. It was cut in tiny strips and more like bacon than sausage meat.   We all opted for hazelnut torte for dessert.  I was excited about this as hazelnut cake is one of my favorite desserts.  However the purported "torte" turned out to be a "tart" and not a cake at all.  Why is it so unfashionable to serve an old fashioned piece of moist cake these days????  Someone enlighten me as to why this is? Perhaps this is why cupcakes are popular ad nauseum right now.  People are craving old timey desserts like grandma used to make.  The tart/torte(?) was flavorless and lackluster and I left half of it uneaten on my plate.  My fellow diners shared my lack of enthusiasm.

Spinnakers certainly has views and beer to recommend it but the food really needs to step up.  Steve says that they used to be much better.  I had heard stories about their incredible mile high apple pie for example and they used to have ample sandwiches. The chowder is still very tasty. Admittedly I am a little dubious about this whole "gastropub" trend overall.  Why can't pub food be simple, substantial and delicious to soak up all those artfully prepared microbrews.  Why must a greed satisfying old timey slice of hazelnut torte be perverted in to some bland, dry small tart that doesn't even resemble a torte?  Because of the location, Spinnakers could be fabulous. Stop resting on your laurels Spinnakers!

I'd love incidentally to hear from you readers where your favorite pub is and why.  Steve and I are still hunting for a local watering hole that has really good food.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE fancy food!!!! Just not in a pub.  In a pub I want something sustaining and old timey like mom used to make.  Is that a thing of the past?  I certainly hope not! Sigh..

<a href=""><img alt="Spinnakers on Urbanspoon" src="" style="border:none;width:104px;height:34px" /></a>


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  2. I've always found Spinnaker's erratic when it comes to the quality of it's food... I've had some really good meals there and some very disappointing ones. They have an amazing location and some lovely beers, but really need to step up the game with their chef! As you say - ample, tasty comfort food is what people want in pub food. And I agree about the torte... a torte should never be confused with a tart! ;~)

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