Late last month, my colleague Sean Neild and I were invited to a menu tasting at the Vancouver FanClub downtown. Although we had both been to the venue previously for media events (here and here), we were interested in learning more about what diners can expect at this relatively new establishment.
For those that can remember back a few years, the FanClub resides in the lot previously held by Circa Restaurant & Bar. Opening in August of last year, the FanClub spent over 6 months completely remodelling the interior from Circa’s original 18th century Spanish inspired aesthetic. Replacing white pillars and arches with dark woods and elaborate black grill fencing, the entire space has been transformed to give off a stylish yet comfortable bar & lounge feel.
While we waited for Chef Josie to prepare our meal, we went on a short tour of the building to learn more about the layout of the space. Starting outside, we were told that once the weather improves, the FanClub will be opening a small kiosk by the front door called ‘Fork in the Road’. Offering warm, tasty food to hungry patrons traveling along Granville St., the FanClub expects this new addition to be very popular with the summer crowds.
Aptly named the Vancouver FanClub, the actual space is used primarily in three ways: 1) As a Live Music/Performance venue 2) As an Eatery/Bar and 3) As an Event Space. With a maximum capacity of just under 300, the space is incredibly versatile and can host anything from an all-out rock concert to a posh, corporate cocktail party. With a full McCauley sound system and the same sub woofer used at BC Place, the FanClub is optimal for bands and musicians looking to showcase their talents.
Sitting down for our lunch, we were kindly offered a chilled glass of Scotch Ale to go with our meal. For the food we were to sample, this beer selection proved ideal and I highly recommend it. Slightly sweet yet full-bodied, I enjoyed the roasted malt flavor and very subtle low tea-like bitterness after each pull. It turns out the deep, copper brown ale pairs beautifully with heavier dark meats like pulled pork and ribs.
The first dish we tried was the Smoked Brisket sandwich listed for $9 on the regular menu. Smoked for 12 hours, sliced and then seared, the brisket was smoky and noticeably tender. Topped with apple slaw and then placed into a toasted hoagie, the sandwich is definitely quite substantial. I enjoyed the sweetness and crisp crunch of the apple slaw as it made for a rather refreshing flavor profile. Normally served with either potato chips or fries, this offering is ideal for those with moderate appetites looking for a tasty lunch.
The second dish we sampled was the Macaroni with smoked cheddar cheese sauce. For $10 on the regular menu, diners will have the choice to top their pasta with smoked brisket, pulled pork or smoked chicken. The mac n’ cheese is then served with rosemary flatbread on the side. Now, as I always say, I never go out to a restaurant and order macaroni & cheese but this plate really was quite good. The pasta itself is well cooked and not overly cheesy while the pulled brisket or pork will lend substance to the dish. Overall, a generous portion of food at a considerate price point.
The third dish we were served was a sample plate of FanClub Ribs. Coming in at $15, the smoked pork ribs are marinated in bourbon sauce and served with your choice of coleslaw, potato chips or fries. As with the brisket and pork previously, the FanClub smokes all their meats in-house as they have an industrial smoker in their kitchen. I definitely enjoyed the nice surface sear on the rack and the wonderful smokiness of the rib meat. The tender meat came off the bone quite easily and was not overly saturated in sauce which is how I like it.
The fourth and final dish we had was a plate of Jambalaya Quinoa Lettuce Wraps. Priced at $10 for four wraps, these crisp lettuce leaves are filled with a chorizo, chicken and prawn medley in a Creole style. Although a very interesting dish conceptually, I have to be honest and say this dish was just ok for me. For those looking for a relatively healthy appetizer, I would recommend this but for anyone else, definitely stick to the ribs, sandwiches etc.
After we finished our lunch, I was kindly offered a cocktail to try before leaving. Now, anybody that knows me will know that I never drink cocktails, especially not at 4pm on a weekday. That said, I could not refuse the kind offer and decided to go with a Stanley Sour. At $11.00 on the drink menu, this cocktail is made up of bourbon, fresh lemon juice, orange marmalade, white ale and walnut bitters. As far as cocktails go, this one was strong but actually pretty tasty! My tolerance for alcohol is low so I obviously found it quite strong but the fresh lemon and orange lent a refreshing citric element to the drink which made it enjoyable.
Overall, I really enjoyed this menu tasting and appreciated the effort that Chef Josie and her kitchen put into the FanClub’s menu. It is quite rare nowadays to find entertainment venues that actually care enough to invest in their food. For those that have yet to visit this exciting new space on Granville, I highly recommend you swing by this month to have a beer or catch a show. Vancouver definitely needs more exciting social scenes like the FanClub so this is definitely a welcome addition to the downtown core.
Address: 1050 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Hours: Mon – Thu 5pm-2am, Fri 5pm-3am, Sat 1pm-3am, Sun 1pm-2am