Last summer when we first connected the one thing I noticed about my friend Raul’s blog was boy did he ever do a lot of restaurant reviews. Recently he was challenged to eat at a place that is off his beaten path because the issuer of the challenge was, “too damn scared,” to do so himself.
The challenge was put out to Raul as well as Karen although the novelty of this culinary duel has quickly spread – warranting reservations, RSVPs and of course a title: SteakCamp.
Where: The Brave Bull, House of Steaks – 1298 E Hastings St
When: Monday, June 23, 2008 – 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
More info: Facebook Event, Upcoming – I believe about 20-30 people have already expressed an interest in going tonight.
I dug around the blogosphere and found that The Brave Bull has been well-reviewed and documented before, although I suppose when a pop radio station DJ is leading the charge there is inevitably more buzz in the air.
From ChowHound, July 2008: “The restaurant is run by old Chinese couple who are both in their 70′s. The lady owner who served us explained in her broken English the they kept their 1991 prices because they were too lazy to change the signage outside. The restaurant’s clientele is made up mainly of regulars who live in this area. They are an odd mix of truckers, tattooed longshoremen, prostitutes, and slumming hipsters.”
Beyond Robson had a post back in 2006 about the Top Ten Things the Brave Bull Isn’t, here are some gems:
10) Vegan yoga eatery.
9) The rooftop garden on top of the Central Branch of the VPL.
7) The source of all those Repent Sinner signs.
3) The TELUSteakhouse. No, wait, the TELUS World of Steaks.
2) The bookstore in the Neverending Story. You’re thinking of Macleod’s Books.
1) A front for the Mob.
From Only Magazine, November 2007: “I can not begin to stress enough how meticulously cared for the dining room is â€” the almost manic amount of plants that dot the ledges and walls immediately exposed a caring nature about its owners. When an older Chinese woman greeted me with a menu and a friendly reminder that she only accepted cash, I could tell that she was the proprietor, and that she had oddly dedicated her life to running a steakhouse in Vancouver. I took a table by the window, and felt completely at home. It was the cleanest restaurant I had sat in for months, and knowing that the $40.00 in my pocket meant a no-limit dining experience at the Brave Bull, I was prepared to laze the evening away despite the fact that I was dining alone.”
I think my favourite excerpt is from a truly East Van blog – celebrating the old mom n’ pop establishments and a neighourhood that is quickly fading away.
From Viaduct, May 2008: “From the post-it board where folks leave business cards to drum up work, to the old-school bar with all of eight or nine varieties of booze, to the fact we cleaned our plates in a place this whole city laughs about as it drives by en route to work. This really is the neighbourhood we love, and the one we see disappearing around us. This is something we didnâ€™t really know we missed until we stepped back out into the evening traffic noise.”
For those who are taking in SteakCamp tonight, you may also be interested in what the Health Board has to say (which I think was another reason why this challenge was issued). Taking a quick spin around the website, I found that The Brave Bull had 5 “issues” in 2007, which included using bar soap (which is not allowed), improper cleaning of utensils (but you get that everywhere), carpet in the kitchen (which is not allowed), and the microwave and rice cooker were in an ‘unsanitary condition’.
If you’d like to compare those results with hoity establishments in Yaletown (outside of which I see pest control vans every day) I would suggest the next daring SteakCamp be held on Hamilton Street.
I know that my friend Raul is taking this on mostly to support small business and break down some barriers so be sure to check his blog tomorrow for a recap. Who knows, maybe one day the social media scene of Vancouver will make its way to Surrey for some great down-home cooking at The RoundUp on King George (it’s just too bad The Dutchman still isn’t around). But even so, I’m afraid folks will simply go for the novelty of what they believe to be slumming and not truly the best weekend breakfast around.