The Bard and Banker Pub

The Bard and Banker  
1022 Government Street tel: 953.9993

The most recent offering from from the Victoria Pub Company of Penny Farthing and Irish Times fame, the Bard and Banker is their most grandiose project thus far. Wow - this place is huge and fancy pants! To be perfectly honest, this is not my preferred style of pub, but I'll give credit where credit is due, these folks are thorough. If you're comfortable dropping some cash, the Bard and Banker is a a very pleasant pub, with well trained staff and a thoughtfully organised bar and food menus.

On a business level, I think the Bard and Banker and the Irish Times have a useful contribution to make to the downtown restaurant landscape. People come to Victoria for its old England charm and I think these kinds of restaurants are exactly what tourists want. Similarly, I think they've been successful in drawing locals deeper into downtown and what might otherwise be 'tourist' zones. These folks have their thumb on the market.

That said, the Bard and Banker is a destination for people who don't care about price. With no reference to value, it's expensive. Personally, if I'm going to spend that kind of money, I likely wouldn't go to a pub to spend it. In fairness, I can't argue with the value, but you have to value things likedecor, location and other aesthetics.

We seated ourselves with some assistance from a server. She was quick on the drink order, but was out of my preferred choice. She found two upsell opportunities in my second choice. She  took our food orders and kept a diligent eye on our drinks. The menu is well constructed with fluffed up versions of pub classics and a little something for everyone. There's also lot of product and prep overlap for the kitchen which implies at least a reasonable level of functionality. Both the wine and food menus are annotated with well written descriptions - especially appreciated on the wine list. That said, the prices are barely visible to my near perfect eyesight. The prices are the only thing on the menu written in a 6 point font. Presumably however, based on my other remarks about price, if you're eating here it shouldn't really matter how small the prices are printed. 

We started with the crab croquettes ($11.99). Indeed, a fancy way to say crab cakes. They arrived steaming hot and nicely presented on little nest of aioli and garnished with sea asparagus and fresh celeriac. I could have used more dip and less garnish,  but otherwise they were completely adequate.

For our mains, I had had the Lamb Curry ($15.99) and Patty had the Duck Poutine ($13.99). I inquired about the heat level of the curry and having indicated it wasn't very hot, I asked for chili sauce. The curry arrived beautifully presented on a wood board in a copper bowl, accompanied by naan bread and sweet chili sauce. I was charged fifty cents for the chili sauce, but unfortunately it wasn't hot either. The curry however was tasty and the lamb very tender. I would have liked some yogurt or chutney type condiments with it, but it was otherwise good.

Patty's Duck Poutine was the gut bomb it was described, but was unfortunatly a little cold. The culprit, we think was cold duck and cheese, that was supposed to be heated by the gravy. Neither the gravy, nor fries were hot enough for this to take place. It needed a couple minutes in the oven. While completely gratuitous, the duck was nevertheless a tasty addition to the gravy-fry-cheese combo.

Having used careful restraint we managed to conclude our meal with a tab of only $75 before tip. A little steep for two appies, one entree, two pints, one cocktail and a glass of wine, I think but for the most part everything met expectations. While I won't find myself dining at the Bard and Banker with much frequency, in a pinch I could do a lot worse.

reviewed Oct 14/08