The Black Bull Kitchen has been a west-end mainstay for almost 30 years, serving a variety of burgers, pizza and homemade poutine. But, in the autumn, the pub began embracing the gaming community — and families.
On the tables along the wall, you’ll find monitors hooked up to one of three game consoles: PlayStation4, XBox and Nintendo Switch. And behind the main seating area you’ll find “The Vault” where gamers can gather and play console games. In front of each monitor, you’ll find a comfy gaming chair — and there’s also a giant projection screen to play tournaments or just enjoy blowing up an opponent in larger-than-life dimensions.
Plans are in place to open another room that will be stocked with classic arcade games.
“We want to bring the social aspect back to gaming,” Black Bull owner Keith Wick said while giving Avenue a tour.
The restaurant/pub has compiled a library of board games, for those who prefer dice and playing pieces to joysticks and animated heroes, and also brings in experts to teach and host tournaments in Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.
To go with the family-fun theme, the Black Bull has begun serving a weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and we tried the Green Eggs and Hamwich, with, yes, a pesto green egg served in a croissant with arugula. As well, there’s a nice cross section of crepes, from peaches and Greek yogurt, to strawberries and Nutella to banana and caramel.
And while you can still grab a pint from the bar, there’s also a new “freak shake” menu, with themed milkshakes based on birthday cakes, Nutella and even a blue treat that’s named in honour of Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster. Or you can design your own shake with ice cream, drizzles and even some of your favourite breakfast cereals. Froot Loops with ice cream and strawberry drizzle? That’s a can-do. — S.S.
When you enter Tokeo Station, you’re greeted by the bright, neon-like art depicting, well, a map of train stations. It lives up to its name — quite literally. Opened in the McLeod Building last November, the restaurant combines traditional Japanese fare with urban decor. During the hockey season, you can spot a chalkboard hockey-themed mural, and it projects the Oilers and their opponent’s logos on the window, inviting guests in on game days. Combined with neon glow, this brings a subtle sense of familiarity — like it’s been in downtown for years.
The menu is extensive, offering an abundance of tempura, sashimi, rolls and even Teppanyaki steak. If you can’t decide between numerous sushi options, try the Chef’s Choice Sushi Combo — the large board comes with 18 varieties, making it perfect for sharing. For an appetizer, try the Kamikaze Bites — the salmon dish is spicy yet light, and each bite is packed with flavour. — K.D.