Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Backstage Lounge, Granville Island

Generally speaking I do not post bad reviews. There are times however when a warning is necessary.

Another axiom I live by is that once is chance, twice is coincidence but three times is ... insert favorite phrase here. Incompetence probably covers it this time: though the original is "enemy action".

I would like to be able to support The Arts Club. We are long time season ticket holders. We go to the theatres as often as as there is something we feel maybe worth seeing, and are not often disappointed.  In the same spirit we have been patronising the Back Stage Lounge which is the bar behind the Granville Island mainstage. There is a lot of competition for eating places nearby - and not one but two breweries.

I saddens me to report that on the last three occasions we have eaten here, we have regretted the choice. They did have a real problem with a kitchen fire that severely restricted their abilities. It took a while for that to be rectified, and we made allowances. But sadly even though the kitchen equipment is now working well, there is not a basic skill level to produce good food reliably. Of course, if you choose the raw veggies and humus, there is not a lot that can go wrong. Though the lettuce at the centre of the plate - presumably for decoration - was distinctly limp. But the Oklahoma Flatbread was almost uneatable. It seemed to be based on a frozen pizza crust - the texture being closer to a biscuit than bread. It is also very hard to understand how pulled pork can be tough - but somehow they managed that too. There was also melted cheese and too much barbecue sauce - straight from the bottle. It was a mess both to look at and to try and eat. It was very nearly cold when served. The menu claimed that there were caramelised onions - which seemed to have been deep fried.

The server did ask me what I thought, and I told her frankly that I was disappointed and why. A 50% discount was applied to that item on the bill. I left half of it uneaten, after all. I am afraid that also had the effect of reducing her tip, based on 15% of the total.

There was a long list of draft beers, but the one I wanted was not available. I was at least offered a taste of the proffered alternate, which was a bitter rather than an IPA. I did find something else.  However now that I look at the bill again I see that I was charged for the beer that was not available: so we paid for three beers but only consumed two.

We also established that the size of a "sleeve" could vary between 14 and 16 fl oz depending on the beer and the glass provided by the brewery. Some brewers take much greater care about how their beer is served than others. I doubt this bartender had actually paid a lot of attention, judging by how he served Stella Artois - not a beer I am prepared to pay that much for, but plenty of others were.



The next time you are at Granville Island and want a beer and a simple meal, I suggest you go to one of the other places - definitely not the Backstage Lounge.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Review: One Man, Two Guvnors

at the Arts Club, Stanley Theatre on Granville until February 22 


When we were in Venice last year, this sculpture immediately appealed to me. And I was surprised that I knew immediately who it was. Carlo Goldoni was one of Italy's most popular playwrights, during his life in the 18th century and for long after. One of his most popular plays, The Servant of Two Masters has been translated and adapted continuously ever since, most recently for the National Theatre in London in 2011, transferring to the West End and Broadway in 2012.

It has now reached Vancouver. If you are a regular patron of theatre in this city many of the cast will be familiar to you.  There are only a few live theatre companies here - one less since the Playhouse closed - but we still manage to find employment for some very talented people. For this show which draws heavily on the traditions of the commedia del arte, they have to be musicians and something like acrobats for  all the physical comedy business.  The show has been updated and moved to Brighton in 1963.  There's not just songs and sketches there's improv too. Which actually gets funnier when things go in unexpected directions. 

Last night the show played to a packed house, which hugely enjoyed the show and was reluctant to leave afterwards as the musicians played people out. In fact it is worth taking your seat early as they entertain before curtain up too. It was a really good team performance but special acknowledgement has to made for Andrew McNee who makes the most of the title role created for James Corden. All the music was created for the show but faithfully represents skiffle in the first half and the Mersey beat in the second. 

You should not miss the chance to see this show while there are still seats available.