Friday, September 15, 2023

Leopold's Tavern in Vancouver soft opening

TGIF! Today, my husband and I embarked on a short but exciting journey - a five-block walk to join the soft opening of Leopold's Tavern in Vancouver.

In preparation for this visit, I spent the last two evenings poring over Google Maps, exploring the most-loved dishes at various Leopold locations in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. Armed with my research, I couldn't resist the urge to indulge in the following highly recommended items:

Lunch at Leopold's Tavern Vancouver

1. Poutine - A Canadian Classic

Leopold's Tavern is renowned for its poutine, but with many options, which one to choose? Let's take a closer look at the delectable variations that have gained popularity at different Leopold's spots:

  • Traditional Poutine - The timeless grub is a favourite at three different locations.
  • Buffalo Chicken Ranch Poutine - A spicy twist featuring buffalo-breaded chicken is well-loved at three branches.
  • Cheeseburger Poutine - A delightful fusion of two classics is also famous at three various Leopold restaurants.

Moreover, the "Poutine of the Week," with standouts like Beer Battered Dill Pickle Poutine and Philly Cheesesteak Poutine, is famous in 1 location each. And at the Warman, SK, site, the Smash Burger Poutine is beloved.

We couldn't resist trying a small portion of two of the three popular ones.

Traditional Poutine - The Canadian Classic

The crispy house-cut fries provide a satisfying crunch, while the salty melted cheese curds add a chewy contrast. Let's talk about that gravy. It's the perfect temperature to soften and melt the curds while adding a delicious beefy flavour. No wonder it's prevalent at Leopold locations at Regina East, Regina North, and Calgary Sage Hill.

Small Traditional Poutine from Leopold's Tavern
Cheese curds and beef gravy on house-cut fries

This is my second favourite traditional poutine in Vancouver, slightly after La Belle Patate.

Buffalo Chicken Ranch Poutine

Meanwhile, the buffalo chicken ranch poutine is loved at two Winnipeg (Academy and Bridgewater) locations, plus the lone site in Victoria, BC. That crispy buttermilk fried chicken covered in zesty hot buffalo sauce balanced by the creamy ranch dressing to cool things down with its tangy richness is terrific. Place it on top of crispy fries. Yum!

Small Buffalo Chicken Ranch Poutine from Leopold's Tavern
Buttermilk fried chicken, cheese curds, ranch and buffalo sauce on house-cut fries.

Both poutines were excellent, and I look forward to trying the rest. For a small size, this is a superb portion filling for lunch.

2. Baja Tacos - A Flavour Extravaganza

Undoubtedly, the Baja Tacos is the star at a staggering eleven Leopold's locations.

Menu Description: Pick from blackened chicken, buffalo-breaded shrimp, or battered avocado. These tantalizing fillings are complemented by feta, pico de gallo, slaw, mango salsa, and baja sauce, all wrapped in your choice of soft corn or flour tortillas.

I asked if we could order one of each possible option. The friendly server said they could only do it on taco Tuesdays, so I opted for the buffalo-breaded shrimp.

The taco sat there since we started with the poutine, and the breaded shrimp got stale. I recommend chowing it down as soon as it arrives on your table.

Buffalo Breaded Shrimp Baja Tacos on Soft Corn Tortilla from Leopold's Tavern
Buffalo breaded shrimp with feta, pico de gallo, slaw, mango salsa, and baja sauce on three soft corn tortillas.

The crunchy breaded shrimp are complemented by the tanginess of crumbly yet creamy feta, pico de gallo's zesty freshness, and slaw's crunchy texture. The mango salsa adds a tropical juicy sweetness, and the creamy baja sauce ties everything together with its slightly spicy goodness.

Buffalo Breaded Shrimp Baja Tacos on Soft Corn Tortilla from Leopold's Tavern

I chose the soft corn, which became crumbly and chewy pretty quickly, so my tip is to eat it immediately. The Baja tacos are famous at other locations, so I'll try the blackened chicken next time and see if it's better than the buffalo-breaded shrimp.

3. Club Sandwich - A Timeless Classic

The last item we ordered is the Club Sandwich, an all-time favourite, which also enjoys its place of honour at 11 different Leopold's Tavern locations. Here's what sets it apart:

Menu Description: Relish the delectable combination of smoked turkey, thick-cut ham, and crispy bacon, harmoniously joined by white cheddar, fresh lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and creamy mayo, all nestled between slices of your preferred bread.

With layers of smoked turkey, ham, and thick-cut bacon, it's a carnivore's dream come true. The smoked turkey adds a mild, smoky flavour with a hint of sweetness, while the ham provides a salty and savoury contrast. The thick-cut bacon introduces a smoky, crispy, slightly salty note that elevates the entire sandwich. It was almost perfect, except the bacon was overly cooked, and two slices were on top of each other, making it so hard that my front teeth hurt. I removed it from the sandwich, separated the two slices, and ate it on its own.

Club Sandwich from Leopold's Tavern
Smoked turkey, ham, thick-cut bacon with white cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and blue cheese sauce

Meanwhile, the white cheddar cheese contributes a creamy, tangy element that pairs beautifully with the meats. Crisp lettuce and ripe tomatoes offer freshness and a touch of juiciness. The whole ensemble is bound together by a generous slather of mayo, adding a rich, creamy, and slightly tangy finish.

It's a classic club sandwich and not something I'll order again. However, I love the curly fries.

Dessert: New Churro Bites

We ordered the new churro bites because my husband loves sweets, and only two options exist. I absolutely love the churro bites. One order came with 20 pieces of mini churros served with vanilla dipping sauce. I hope they serve it with a chocolate dip - this would make it the best churro in Vancouver!

Churro Bites from Leopold's Tavern
Mini churros tossed in cinnamon sugar and served with vanilla dipping sauce.

Churro Bites from Leopold's Tavern

These mini churro bites offer a satisfying crunch on the outside while revealing a soft and doughy interior.

Whether you're a poutine aficionado, a taco enthusiast, or a fan of classic club sandwiches, Leopold's Tavern offers something special for everyone. What is your favourite food item at Leopold's? As for me, I can't wait to come back for more poutine!

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