by Andrew Morrison | The Dubh Linn Gate has been on the up and up in Whistler since they brought on chef Michael Guy, a Top Table veteran. Now the company is coming down the mountain to instal itself at the foot of one of the many new Olympic Village developments on Main Street proper.
1601 Main Street, to be exact.
If that address is unfamiliar to you, just seek out the big building that looks a little different from the surrounding ones. It’s markedly less soul-crushing that the typical Rennified architectural embarrassments that have sprouted up hereabouts in the past few years. There’s a pretty water feature and enough lawn to hold 65 metric tonnes of French Bulldog poo, not to mention a towering, pillar-strewn gap that gives it a Tron Recognizer feel. I like it. Minus the poo, of course.
But I know what you’re thinking. Do we really need another massive, casual, beer-forward pub in Olympic Village? In just a couple of years, the emerging neighbourhood has been tasked with supporting Tap & Barrel, Steel Toad, Flying Pig, and the laughably named Craft. Surely four establishments borne to the same teat is enough, right? Goodness knows it must be wicked raw by now from all the sucking…
Well, not necessarily. Witness the always bustling Ramenland in the West End, the cocktail-forward havens of Gastown, or the mountain of crap that continues to pile up on the Granville Shitshow. As the old saying goes, the smartest place to open a barbershop is next to another barbershop. (Unless you’re a Donnellizer, in which case you open a barbershop next to a crappy nightclub…weird.)
My point is, the more the merrier.
What I hope will set it apart is the food and drink. Here’s what we know so far. The owners and Michael Guy have tapped Victor Pulleyblank as head chef. Like Guy, Pullybank is also a former Top Table staffer (Blue Water, Araxi), and was most recently a sous chef at Cafe Medina. Previous to that, he was a sous chef at Chambar. On the surface that tells me he’s totally versed in high volume execution, and wholly unfamiliar with pre-made pub grub. A good sign, to be sure. Given the amount of competition they’ll have in the immediate vicinity (over 1,000 new seats have sprung up in less than three years), I expect more than a modicum of tastiness here.
Though none of these are a lock for the menu, there’s talk of jarred smoked pork hock, shredded and seasoned with herbs, topped with a red racer pale ale jelly and served with a pile of country bread and apple mustard; a “Harvest Coddle” of stewed summer vegetables, rainbow spuds, beluga lentils and chickpeas all simmered in a smoky tomato and Fat Tug broth with fresh herbs; and a marinated 8oz cap steak served with corn puree, barley, caramelized onions, savoy cabbage, grilled corn, Guinness butter (w/ confit garlic, herbs, reduced guiness, spices) and a grainy mustard dressing. It sounds pretty good, especially with 24 taps to help wash it all down.
Still, it’s a huge, cavernous space – 6,000 sqft of concrete, steel, and glass – which might make it tricky to shoe-horn a woody, warm, super cozy and traditional-looking Irish pub into it. How one can accomplish coziness with 200 seats on two floors and another 100 split between two patios is beyond me, especially with so much natural light coming through so much glass. But having walked through the space and eyeballed the pre-vis renderings, it looks like they’ve got it pretty well sorted. I mean, they figured out how to make the Crystal Palace work in 1851 (sort of); they even made it beautiful. That being said, I doubt even a magical C.S. Lewis wardrobe will be able to smooth the transition from outside to inside. If jaws don’t drop at the threshold, the designers should turn in their badges. Truly, if the food doesn’t set Dubh Linn Gate apart from the competition, the design must.
Opening day is being vaguely set for Summer 2015. I expect it’ll be late summer. They’re hiring now, especially cooks. Email the chef if you’re interested (VPulleyblank [at] dubhlinngate.com), and take a look below…