St. James’s WellPosted: 03/17/2013
David, Darek and Samson had been raving about St. James’s Well ever since their visit last year. Nearly every time I see David, he mentions SOMETHING about the chicken strips or the yorkshire pudding, so of course that piqued my interest (I really like chicken strips). Samson and I had actually planned on going earlier this year, but when we went the place was positively bursting at the seams with people, so we had to go somewhere else instead.
Since it’s March and St. Paddy’s Day was coming up, the aforementioned guys, Hui and I decided to make our way to The Well after the game last Sunday. The place was rather quiet (well, it WAS a Sunday night)– just a some older patrons by the bar, and a few clusters of people here and there. Also, just a heads up– I had to use a cellphone camera that night (wasn’t really planning on going out), so picture quality isn’t really going to be all there…
Our waitress seated us at a pretty spacious table, and we got right down to ordering– drinks first, of course. I didn’t feel like beer that night, so I settled on Magners, an Irish cider that they had on tap; Hui ordered a Long Island, and the guys decided on 3 beers– a Granville Island Cypress Honey Lager for Samson, Innis and Gunn Oak Aged Beer for Darek, and the Steam Whistler Pilsner for David.
With our drink order done with, we took a look through the big menu. And of course, we had to order the chicken strips and yorkshire puddings, so we picked the St. James’s Sampler ($28), which included the aforementioned strips and mini puddings, as well as 1 pound of wings (we chose salt and pepper out of hot and sweet chili), potato skins, 3 lamb sliders, and veggie sticks, accompanied by beef au jus, honey mustard sauce, and ranch dip. At $28, this seemed a little pricy, but the platter was actually quite big; as well, each of the dishes ordered regularly (with bigger portions, of course) cost over $10, so it ended up being a great deal. The potato skins were topped with cheddar cheese, chives and bacon, and weren’t too greasy; the salt and pepper wings were seasoned the right amount, and there was a good mix of wings and drummettes. My favourite of the platter would have to be the lamb sliders, as the toasted bread, not-too-gamey lamb patty, cheddar and pickled onions just worked perfectly together. The chicken strips were just as good as David said they’d be (very tender, with only a light crispy coating), and the yorkshire puddings, which I had never had before, were a nice surprise. The pudding itself was flaky and soft, and was filled with a few pieces of beef. Topped with horseradish and then dipped into the au jus, this was fantastic– I certainly wanted to order another plate!
The guys ordered the Mussels ($13) when they came here last, and we ordered it again this time–cooked with spicy chorizo sausage and onions in Guinness, this 1-pound order was a hit. All the mussels were open, and the broth was very rich and flavourful– I gladly dipped my garlic bread, as well as various other foods, into it. We thought that the broth was a on the saltier side, but we could definitely taste the beer, which was a plus.
Our third dish for the night was the Chorizo and Goat Cheese Flatbread ($11). I thought that this was a rather small portion, as it was basically the size of my hand, but at least everyone was able to have a slice. In addition to the sausage and cheese, this flatbread also came topped with grilled spice-marinated artichokes, which I really enjoyed. The crust was thin and just crispy enough, with some doughier bits as well, and it held up under the ingredients. I don’t know if I’d order it again, though– out of the other dishes we had, I don’t think it was really that spectacular or special.
We went for an English classic next, in the Shepherd’s Pie ($12), which came topped with a beautifully baked mashed potato layer. The mash was creamy while still exhibiting some texture, and I really liked the crispier bits of it. Underneath, there was a plentiful mixture of beef, onions and green peas that mixed well with the buttery flavour of the potatoes. A pet peeve of mine are restaurants that serve a side salad on a warm plate, or have parts of the salad touch a hot part of the plate (ie a baked dish), because the salad gets warm and wilty. I’m happy to report that The Well didn’t do this, and I ended up really enjoying the salad as a result (but I’m sure that the good amount of vinaigrette and fresh veggies helped with that too).
After all this, we were still feeling hungry, so we ordered 2 more dishes, the first of which was the Irish Stew ($16). This consisted of large, pull-apart pieces of lamb, carrots and potatoes. The lamb was marinated in English cider, and hence was quite tender; the potatoes had broken down quite a bit, and so the stew was very thick, and overall I liked the texture of it. The stew came with some house-made soda bread, which I didn’t like very much– I thought it was too dense and crumbly, and would definitely have preferred baguette instead. This was Darek’s favourite dish, and I certainly liked this stew too (I don’t get many stews at home), so we’d definitely order it again.
In fact, I liked the stew so much, I ended up dipping the Habanero Pork Bites ($11) in it instead of the sweet chili aioli it came with. These were quite spicy, and long-lasting at that (you can kind of feel the burn on your tongue even after taking a drink). Each piece was juicy and tender, while the batter was thick and crunchy, and not too dry. The aioli (and the stew) helped to break up the spice a little bit, but after a while I found it pretty easy to eat.
I had a wonderful time at The Well– the food and drink all exceeded my expectations of pub food, which I usually just associate with average wings and burgers. The majority of the dishes we had tonight were pretty special (of course we could have gotten burgers but those are hard to share), and showcased the abilities of the kitchen well. In terms of service, our waitress was helpful and attentive, and I hope that that’s the case if the pub were busy too. I will definitely return sometime in the near future, armed with an empty stomach and a camera. For those of you going out tonight, I hope you’ll have a great St. Paddy’s Day– maybe even at St James’s!
St. James’s Well
248 Newport Drive
Port Moody, BC