EXP Restaurant + Bar is one of the newer kids on the block in Gastown. What’s so special about it? Well it’s a video game themed restaurant! So if you are a gamer nerd like me and my friends, this place probably appeals to you. Sadly, current liquor laws prohibit them from serving alcohol while allowing customers to play video games. That is their end goal though, and they are trying to fight that law. Hopefully they’ll win!
Their menu consists of appetizers, mains, desserts, and cocktails that are all given a name from some video game. For us it was fun to go through the menu to see if we could name what each menu item referred to. While we waited for some friends, we ordered another poutine ($6 – so cheap!), Coarse Salt and Pepper Chrono Chicken Bites ($10), and Sweet Chili Lime Angry Pig Poppers ($10). We were also given some Blue Raspberry Cloud Popcorn compliments of the chef. I wasn’t a big fan of these though, as the popcorn was a bit stale. The poutine was pretty decent. It was huge for $6. The gravy was rich and dark, and the fries were nice and crisp.
The Pig Poppers were slices of fried Pork Belly. It was nice and crisp, and fatty. The chili lime sauce was nice, not really spicy, but tangy and a bit sour. It went well together. It was served with some grilled vegetables, that we probably could have done without.
Even though I ate an hour before at Rogue, I still needed to try as much of the food as I can here. So I ended up ordering the Beyond Mac & Cheese Burger ($14), while my friends ordered the Master Chief Burger ($13), Raging Demon Spicy Chicken Sandwich ($13), and Pulled Portal Pork ($13).
My burger was really different, it was a pretty thin pork patty topped with a three cheese mac and cheese. It was nice and creamy and saucy to keep the burger moist as there were no other condiments. However, overall the mac and cheese could’ve used a bit more seasoning and richness. Maybe add some bits of fried bacon into the mac and cheese. Pork fat rules right? The Master Chief Burger looked pretty big with both an onion ring (halo) inside, and on top of the burger. It was topped with baby greens, onion relish, and garlic aioli. I think my friend was happy with it. The Raging Demon Spicy CHicken Sandwich got good reviews too. Not too spicy, and has nice buttery avocado.
We tried a few cocktails – and overall consensus was that they were OK. I didn’t really enjoy my Vice City, but another friend liked the Thundara.
Currently the video game theme isn’t full fledged throughout the restaurant, as you can’t actually play games yet. What they do in the meantime is play all sorts of video game theme songs, as well as keep a constant stream of video game trailers and cutscenes on the many TVs that line the walls. The food was imaginative, and for the most part pretty good. They really did well to keep with the gaming theme. They also have video game launch parties where you can win some prizes. Last week they had a party for Borderlands 2. They have one sandwich that I want to try, but not sure if I should. Someone please try the Triforce and let me know how it is.
EXP Restaurant + Bar
309 W Pender