I mistakenly left Commercial Drive for a couple of years, so I hadn't been into The Charlatan yet. I know that it was there before I left but I actually hadn't been in that spot since it was Bukowski's Pub. I spent a lot of time in Bukowski's Pub, back in the day.
Yvette and I set up another Drinks on the Drive date and we decided on The Charlatan as it is somewhere in the middle of where we both live. I found out from their website that they are the same group that runs The Five Point on Main St. Excellent, I like that joint.
The inside was classier than I remembered. Bukowski's decorating was... eclectic at best. They did a nice renovation as The Charlatan is dark wood and leather booths. Very cozy. There are 3 levels with the top being a bar stool and TV level. Down some stairs and there are booth seats. Down some more stairs and there is another bar and some more tables that would be great for a private event. There are big shutters that run across the second level to close off access to the bottom so I would assume they do quite a few parties down there.
I find that pub food is always hit or miss. Some places offer food as an afterthought to the beer. I was quite surprised with the food at Charlatan. The menu has pub standards like nachos, chicken wings and burgers but they also offer fun choices such as "Poutine A La Maison Charlatan- Hand cut kennebec potatoes, pulled BBQ pork, Montreal cheese curds, piping hot gravy and caramelized onions" and "Not Your Mom's Meatloaf- Bacon wrapped with a spinach & mushroom stuffing, served with buttery mashed potatoes, veggies & gravy." Maybe both of those stuck out to me because of the gravy...
In the end I went for Chicken Tenders $10.95- "Buttermilk marinated and coated with cornmeal and panko, served with honey mustard sauce and hand cut fries" I substituted a side salad for the fries.
So much better than I expected. The chicken tenders were obviously not from a box. They were juicy, tender and very flavourful. I loved the cornmeal crust instead of a batter. I was also very happy that with the salad. I am always disappointed in places that give me an iceberg salad from a bag. This salad was full of fresh cut veggies. The plating also pleased me as I still have issues with my food touching.
Big M went with an order of Sweet Potato Fries $8.95- " Tossed in thyme, sea salt and cracked black pepper served with a lemon ancho aioli."
Sometimes I think that Big M orders Yam fries because I don't like them and won't eat any. I did try one for the dipping sauce though as everyone at the table was raving about it. Mike liked the Yam fries and the dipping sauce was great. Really tangy and a bit spicy.
A drawback of their menu offerings is the lack of veggie options. Only fries, edamame and a Veggie Burger. Yvette chose the Veggie- $12.95- "House made roasted nut and vegetable patty topped with roasted red peppers, guacamole, crumbled goats cheese and served with sweet potato fries"
Again, impressed with the home made products. I stole a bite of the patty and it was fresh and tasty. The bun was a soft bun as well which I prefer with my burger. You can never go wrong with goat cheese on a veggie burger.
Dillon went with a burger as well, but meaty. Bacon Cheese Burger- $12.95 "The basic taken to the next level. Our house made patty topped with thick-cut bacon and smoked Canadian white cheddar"
The menu says: "all beef is naturally raised, hormone free, fresh and local." Dillon enjoyed the burger. I didn't get a steal in for the burger but I did manage to steal some fries. I like a thinner fry and these were nice and crispy.
Yvette's Heather, or Heather number 2 in my book, got an order of Edamame- $6.95 "Tossed with sea salt, crushed chili and sesame seeds".
She said they were not as salty as she would like, but I loved the smell of sesame. I would have thought they were tossed in sesame oil but the menu just said seeds.
They also have a fun cocktail list. My favorite was the Pineapple Love $7.95 "Stoli, muddled basil with pineapple juice topped with soda". I was happy that I ordered this one after I ate as it was so full of chunks of pineapple that it was like a dessert! I ate the pineapple out of the drink with a fork.
Overall, I was really impressed with the amount of "homemade" items the menu had. I was expecting premade food out of a box so the meals far surpassed my expectations. I like when that happens.
The one low light of the evening was the ladies bathroom. It did not smell fresh and clean. The rest of the place was spotless so I think that made the bathroom issues stand out a bit more.