Finch & Barley is a great little Middle Eastern fusion restaurant tucked away in the industrial area near lower Lonsdale. The menu features a mix of familiar north american and ethnic foods — everything from burgers and flatbreads to saffron chicken and baba ganoush.
My girlfriend Ali joined me on the inaugural outing here at Sea to Rye. We kicked things off with a look at the appetisers: three crunchy and flaky croquettes — filled with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, drizzled with a roasted garlic and red pepper aioli.
Shak: The croquettes have a great colour to them, the texture is perfect and the aioli really stands out. The flavours inside the croquette comes off as mild, I wish the goat cheese and tomatoes came through more boldly. The pico de gallo on the side is fine, but it’s really just there to fill the plate.
Ali: They have a really great crunch to them! The portion is super shareable for two people. The flavours are a little bland, but I enjoyed the pico de gallo on the side.
Shak’s Rating: 3.5/5 — Ali’s Rating: 3.5/5
On to the main course! I decided to stick with the Middle Eastern theme and order this juicy Lamb Burger: topped with feta, organic greens, tomato, grilled red onion and lemon herb mayo (served with fries).
Shak: The burger is juicy… like really juicy. Usually this would be a big plus, but the juices coat your tongue and fingers like molten lava. Definitely not date food. Once the burger cooled down, however, the flavours really stood out. The lamb has a great natural taste and its very moist. The red onions add a sweetness that compliments the patty. My only complaint is the feta, it’s tasty — but the flavour gets masked underneath the mountain of red onions.
Ali: I warned Shak that I hate lamb, it’s too gamey. I’m not a big on red meat to begin with and this was a real gamble. I hated it! Don’t blame the restaurant, I’d trust Shak on this one! I can understand why people who like lamb would love this, but if lamb isn’t your thing then don’t expect this burger to change your mind.
Shak’s Rating: 4.5/5 — Ali’s Rating: 1/5 (I’m sorry!)
Ali opted for a flatbread, which to our pleasant surprise is 50% off on Sundays. She settled for the Chicken Pesto flatbread, which rings in just over $7 after the discount. It’s topped with: roasted tomato, black olives, bocconcini and a lemon-herb aioli.
Shak: I’m very pleased by the portion size. Assuming you’ve had an appetiser, this could easily serve two people. What I love most about the flatbread is how you can taste all the different elements. It doesn’t need to rely on the aioli or the cheese — the smokiness from the chicken and the fragrance of the veggies really pop.
Ali: I was blown away by the flatbread! I could hardly stop myself from eating the whole thing. The aioli was very nice and the flatbread itself was scrumptious. I even had a few pieces leftover, a real steal for seven bucks!
Shak’s Rating: 4/5 — Ali’s Rating: 4.5/5
So what about the x-factors? Food may be a restaurants selling point, but when you’re out with friends you’ll want to consider the joint’s atmosphere.
THE VIBE: (Ambience + Service)
Shak: I really like this location. It’s hidden away from the traffic of Lonsdale restaurants and there is always space. The dining area is small and quaint, the lighting is relaxing and the music sets a fun tone. The servers are very friendly and wonderfully lax. I would be hesitant to book a big party, the small seating struggles with big numbers.
Ali: I really like the music, it’s great to vibe with and it’s never too loud. The waitress was really chill and friendly — she checked up on us just enough to not be absent or overbearing. The bathroom was very clean too…
Shak’s Rating: 4.5/5 — Ali’s Rating: 4.5/5
Vancouver’s a pricey city to live in, you won’t always want to break the bank to have a nice meal with your homies. So how affordable is Finch & Barley?
BANG FOR YOUR BUCK:
Shak: The price point is a little lower than “fancier” restaurants like Tap & Barrel or Cactus Club — and honestly the food is better. My lamb burger came in at $15.50 before tax, but you can order their beef hamburger for $13.50
Ali: If you’re going on a Sunday, the flatbreads are one of the best deals in town. All of them hover around the $7 to $8 and can definitely feed two people.
Shak’s Rating: 3.5/5 — Ali’s Rating: 5/5 (for the flatbreads!)
Finch & Barley is an awesome location, with great food and a fun atmosphere. Go on a Sunday and split a few tasty flatbreads for less than the price of an XL pizza.