Hub Restaurant and Lounge, Vancouver

If there’s anything Vancouverites like more than “upscale casual” cuisine, it’s upscale casual mini-chains (see the multi-venue spanning Stella’s, Joey’s, and Earl’s for evidence). In at least the second respect, owner Bill Marsh has taken a risk, even if the specifics of that risk are obscure and ambiguous. Quite suddenly and with little warning, the Yaletown location of Browns Social House up and closed its doors, and on Wednesday, November 18 will officially re-open as Hub Restaurant and Lounge.

Marsh claims flexibility as independence as major motives of the identity change. There are certainly some underlying legal issues, because aside from changing the stark black uniforms to t-shirts and removing the admittedly expansive Browns branding, they’ve done very little to the design of the space. The décor retains much of its original unpretentious bent, including the original 1665 exposed wood beams, brick walls, full bar, and raised vinyl booths. Otherwise, some new black and white photography now adorns the walls, and two new 40 inch televisions have been added to the bar area.

One might think that Hub might use the split from the franchise to give the bar a trendy Yaletown attitude adjustment, but it continues to worry less about cachet and more about comfort. What’s the best way to attract the masses? Sports. The new TVs add to the already potent sports-focus, broadcasting PPV events like UFC, a variety of special events (*cough*Olympics*cough), and nearly ever Canucks game of the season. With subscriptions to most major on-demand programming, there’s also plenty for non-sports fan, provided it means staring at a screen while you eat.

Speaking of eating, the biggest change from Browns to Hub is with its menu. No longer bound by franchise standards or guidelines, the restaurant has rolled out a whole new card of “back to basics” classics (which is really just another way of saying “upscale casual”). Dishes like Crab Macaroni & Cheese, Horseradish Crusted Salmon, Kobe Beef Meatballs, and Lobster Wings use the well-worn strategy of substituting quality ingredients into comfort food standards. Most refreshing is the classic British-style Prime Rib dinner for $16.99 on Sundays and Mondays, if only because Vancouver could always use more options for Sunday roast.

Vancouver may have one fewer chain restaurant, but Hub shouldn’t be too much of a shock to anyone’s system.

Address: 1155 Mainland Street, Vancouver, BC
Contact: 604-696-9335
Cuisine: Contemporary
Area: Yaletown
Venue: Restaurant, Lounge
Hours: Daily: 5:00pm – 1:00am
Price Range: $$ (Affordable)
Payment: Master Card, Visa, American Express

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