The ultimate in hipsterdom is to claim to have liked something way before it became popular.
Bands, brands, eats, treats, booze, shoes: if you got there first, your street cred rises.
I feel a bit hipster about Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers. OK, so maybe the place opened to an eager crowd and was, arguably, popular since day one. But I was there very, very early on nevertheless, back when the brewers had released just a handful of beers and had not yet issued any spirits.
I remember their green tea-infused saison that first summer and then, some time later, their first vodka, packaged in a stylish, notably heavy glass bottle that made a nice holiday gift for select friends. There was the giant vat of “moonshine” on the countertop as distillation progressed and then a changeover to the style and design of their growlers.
The tasting room always looked good and had ample seating, but made me wonder for the longest time what Deep Cove’s next move would be to keep those seats filled. Food trucks began to park in their lot regularly but I had somehow moved on by then, my visits becoming infrequent.
Former nano-brewery Bridge, once located across the street, moved to swank new digs down on Charlotte Road, Green Leaf got off the ground at Lonsdale Quay, small-batch producer Black Kettle opened its doors, and Hearthstone quietly began making and selling its good beers at licensed rooms throughout Vancouver. So it was that news of Deep Cove’s move into full-on restaurant and tap room mode took me by surprise.
I didn’t expect the food offering to be nearly as robust as I discovered it to be on a recent visit with my wife DJ and son The Boy. Yes, you read that right; my son was along for a bite as Deep Cove permits children for a good portion of their operating hours, a practice that doubtless serves them well as families make their way to and from the slopes of nearby Mount Seymour every day.
Deep Cove’s menu is robust and smart. Smart in that it incorporates their brews and other distillates into the foods, creating the ultimate pairings for their ever-increasing lineup of quaffable fare.
We began our meal with the Dip Trio: tzatziki, cumin black bean dip and hummus, served with fresh vegetables (cucumber, carrot and celery) and warm, toothsome flatbread. The portion was generous on this appetizer and the varied herbs and spices paired magically with my spicy Candied Bacon Dill Caesar, a truly unique and undeniably tasty riff on the classic Canadian cocktail featuring Deep Cove’s dill-infused vodka, Walter’s Caesar mix, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, a hearty wedge of candied bacon, celery stalk and lime wedge, served in a glass rimmed with steak sauce.
Next up was an order of Spicy Pretzel Fondue, a dense and doughy soft pretzel sprinkled with Kosher salt accompanied by spicy, creamy cheese fondue made with the brewery’s Tin Can Pale Ale. This was a great snack and we found ourselves using the Dip Trio’s flatbread and vegetables to mop up the fondue once the pretzel was gone. DJ paired the pretzel with a pint of lager, The Boy with a nice frosty sleeve of ice water.
For mains, DJ and The Boy split a Big Grilled Cheese sandwich, made with parmesan, gruyere, cheddar and feta melted on a crusty wedge of garlic butter baguette. The feta and gruyere made for a potent combo, one that I feared might be too much for The Boy’s burgeoning palate, but he tucked into it with gusto and didn’t really come up for air until only crumbs remained.
The sandwich came with a choice of dill pickle or small salad, the latter featuring a handful of mesclun greens with crushed walnuts and feta tossed in a simple vinaigrette.
I waffled between the tempting sounding Tin Can Chicken Pot Pie, a daily special of Duck Confit Pasta with Anise Cream (prepared using hand-made caserecce from nearby In Grain Pastificio), and The Crawl Stout Stew with beef braised in Deep Cove’s The Crawl Stout with roasted root vegetables.
I opted for the stew and was pleased with its rich, rib-sticking character, replete with tender chunks of beef and deep, rosemary-scented gravy ideal for dipping with the slices of chewy house bread provided. I paired it with a pint of Lookout Session Ale, a lovely, well-balanced New Zealand-style Pale Ale with subtle toasted malt character and solid hoppy punch with reserved fruit notes.
Those with Scandinavian roots or friends may be interested in checking out Deep Cove’s limited-release barrel-aged akvavit, an invigorating, albeit fiery, holiday tradition for many.
By the time we wrapped up our meal, which ran us $68 before gratuity, the place was packed, suggesting that I am either a trend-setter with my early appreciation for Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers’ brew game, or a late-comer to their food game. I guess the scales can tip either way depending on if your glass is half full or half empty.
Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers is located at #170-2270 Dollarton Highway. deepcovecraft.com 604-770-1136
Chris Dagenais served as a manager for several restaurants downtown and on the North Shore. A self-described wine fanatic, he earned his sommelier diploma in 2001. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. North Shore News dining reviews are conducted anonymously and all meals are paid for by the newspaper.