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Update on Donnelly’s New Oxford

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This weekend, I finally found time to wander the three blocks from my house over to Donnelly’s New Oxford in Yaletown. An attempt to pop in for a pint late Saturday night ended poorly when we were turned away by a stern-but-apologetic bouncer who informed us that the New Oxford was at capacity, and that additionally capacity wasn’t all that much because they were still on a restaurant license. Ah, BC liquor laws, we meet again!

So instead of late night pints, it was a late brunch. What do I think? Well, I’m pleasantly surprised. The interior still has that “too new to be true” Donnelly look about it, but at least the walls here are real brick instead of the faker plaster kind used in some of their other pubs. I suspect that the leather chairs and booths will age over time and gain character, assuming management lets it do so (keeping things shiny seems to be Donnelly’s goal in life).

I was somewhat disappointed to note the shuffleboard was under lock and key, even at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, and positioned in such as way as to discourage use (encroached upon by occupied tables). Additionally, the place was crammed full of a distinctly Yaletown clientele, consisting of a statistically unlikely percentage of blondes, but then again, it is on Homer.

As to the good points, the back room had a delightful character about it, and the rumours of reasonably priced Farmhand and Phillips IPA on tap proved 100% true ($5.15/16oz), although a proper pint was no where to be found despite the heavy handed English character of the place.

As well, a placard advertising $3 sleeves on Tuesdays was sighted on the table. True the ad did include a limitation to “Domestic” beers, but a quick glance at the draught menu reveal no risk of the usual “domestic” beer exclusion rule (aka Molson, Labatt’s, etc, but not the stuff brewed a block away), since the only true macro beers they had were decidedly imports. I have gotten into arguments with bar managers about why Labatt’s is Domestic and R&B is not.

Food was better than average, which says a lot considering the offerings at other places in the family, which waver around “unexceptional.”

The presence of a projection TV and plenty of LCDs elsewhere means this could be a great hockey hangout, especially on Tuesdays. With this good comes bad, though, as those same TVs mean plenty of not-hockey buggering up chances for a quiet pint on virtually every other day (their current schedule is UFC-a-riffic).

Summary: A decent place, but not somewhere I can strongly recommend outside of the odd quick afternoon pint or hockey games on Tuesdays.

How to improve: Turn the TVs off during not-hockey, serve real (20oz) pints, and expand the tap list.

Rating (yes, I rate bars): 3/5. I’ll be back, but only rarely or at someone else’s suggestion. Still, that’s a lot more than I would ever visit other Donnelly Group establishments. Now if only they could repeat the baseline -> Oxford improvement with their next pub…

Written by chuck

February 1st, 2011 at 10:32 am

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Donnelly Group Pub: New Oxford

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If you know me, you also know that the Donnelly Group is not exactly my favourite chain of pubs. They have a talent for stamping out virtually identical, near-dance-club-like, soulless booze holes. So, whatever, we go our separate ways. I walk straight past the line-up outside The Lamplighter of shrieking mini-skirts and popped collars looking for someone to fight (waiting to pay $10 cover), and enjoy myself a solid pint at the Alibi. I’m not their target demographic, after-all. Those folks can keep the Canadian (or, if they’re feeling fancy, Stella).

And it’s not just the Lamplighter. Their list of crimes against good beer culture is actually rather impressive:

  • Smiley’s Public House
  • Metropole
  • Lamplighter
  • Cinema Public House
  • The Calling
  • The Academic

All serving up a nearly identical and uninspiring mix of GIB’s finest light ales & lagers, Bud, Stella, Molson, and the usual suspects for bad euro imports (plus oddly enough, Delirium Tremens, so I guess there’s that).

So when Donnelly announced a new pub in Yaletown–the very heart & home of the tiny-skirted-stripped-shirt crowd–I figured it’d be yet another cookie-cutter frat cave. Then Ian from Driftwood let drop that Farmhand will be on tap there. Then I caught a glimpse of a freakin’ shuffleboard table in a preview pic.

The beer list is likewise unexpected: 2 Phillips taps in addition to Farmhand. The bottle list features such names as Pike, Deschutes, Anchor, Dogfish Head, Acme, 4x Unibroue, and St Ambroise.

I haven’t been down yet, so I can’t say how it looks in person, or if they’ll find some way to bollocks this up, but I’m holding out hope for the place. The next time I get thirsty in Yaletown I’ll pop in and render a verdict. Note that I basically live in Yaletown and am thirsty all the time, so I’ll see you guys soon.

Written by chuck

December 16th, 2010 at 4:44 pm

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