After announcing in July that Howe Sound Brewing would be taking over the old Chambar location, Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House (568 Beatty Street) is now open. The restaurant is the first Vancouver-based business for the B.C. craft brewery.
"Not everybody gets up to Squamish to see us,” Trevor Magee, vice president and general manager of Howe Sound Brewing Co., told the Georgia Straight in the summer. “We've been looking for a location for a while and we've leased the space that Chambar is vacating."
At first, the restaurant was to be called Devil’s Elbow Ale & Whiskey House; however, the owners have swapped “Whiskey House” for “Smoke House” to emphasize the food. The restaurant is named after the company’s popular Devil’s Elbow India Pale Ale, one of 14 Howe Sound beers on tap ($7.50 per pint). In addition to seasonal brews, such as the Pumpkineater Imperial Ale and Rail Ale Nut Brown, the restaurant also features six “guest taps” from other B.C. craft breweries, including 33 Acres, Postmark Brewing, and Driftwood Brewing.
Even though “Whiskey House” was dropped from the restaurant’s name, the whiskey offerings are still substantial. In fact, the back room of the restaurant is dedicated solely to the spirit, with a separate bar where bartenders will serve over 20 different whiskeys ($7 to 14) and mix up classic whiskey-based cocktails ($12), such as Manhattans, Boulevardiers, and Sazeracs.
Just four wines by the glass complete the restaurant’s beverage offerings. Two whites and two reds—including three from the Okanagan and one local sipper (Vancouver Urban Winery's Roaring Twenties Malbec—are all priced at $8.
The food at Devil’s Elbow is more smoke-house focused than traditional pub grub. Sharable snacks ($6 to 13) include deep-fried pickle spears served with a sour cream and chive dip, spicy Buffalo wings and a milder honey-mustard version, pork back ribs smothered in a sticky, sweet and spicy soy sauce; and maque choux, a southern Louisiana corn- and bell pepper-based dish, served with kettle chips.
Main dishes include three hearty salads and seven sandwiches ($13 to 17). While most of the sandwiches feature the restaurant’s smoked meats—brisket, chicken, pork, and duck—there is one vegetarian option: a smoked Portobello mushroom sandwich. Smoked meat is also the star of four platters ($20 to 22), showcasing smoked and braised beef short ribs, slow-smoked beef brisket and pulled pork, smoked and grilled pork back ribs, and smoked beef and lamb sausages.
Two indulgent desserts—deep-fried cheesecake and hemp-fudge brownie—will no doubt pair well with Howe Sound’s chocolaty Pothole Filler Imperial Stout Woolly Bugger Barley Wine.
The layout of the restaurant has not changed since Chambar occupied the space. Smaller high-top tables are grouped near the front of the restaurant, where the long bar displaying all of the beer taps is also located. A narrow corridor lines the mid-section of the restaurant, with a closed-off kitchen to one side. Larger tables with banquette seating fill the back room, with doors leading to the separated whiskey den.
What is different about the restaurant is that several of the walls have been boarded up with wood planks, giving the room a cozy, cabin-like feel. The displayed artwork—all paintings done by post-secondary art students on the “devil” theme—are playful and striking against exposed-brick walls.
Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House is open daily for lunch and dinner, and stays open until midnight.