November 4, 2012
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The Back Abbey throws off a speakeasy vibe.

The Back Abbey throws off a speakeasy vibe.

The Back Abbey in Claremont is unlike any convent or monastery I’ve been to. The conversations and spirits flowed freely last Saturday night. This certainly was no place to do penance. Rather, it was time to let loose and enjoy oneself.

I sat at a slightly wobbly table next to the main entrance where I was able to keep a keen eye on both the kitchen and the unisex bathroom, not by choice, mind you. In fact, I used the bathroom to wash up before I began my repast, but I became somewhat beleaguered or buggered when I found no sink in the washroom to wash up in. Who knew? When I finally located the wash basin outside the water closet, I enjoyed flipping the soap dispenser upside down to elicit a small stream of soap with which to scrub my hands.

Although The Back Abbey has earned a nice reputation as a gastropub with lots of European (and a few Canadian) beers, I found the wine list slightly wanting. I drink cabs, and there were only two labels by the glass listed, one for $9, another for $14. Their eight bottles listed ranged from $36 to $265 (Dana Estate). I decided to take a pass.

For dinner, I ordered the signature Abbey Burger for $13, featuring aged Gouda, mustard aioli, caramelized onion, Niman Ranch bacon and micro greens served on a Brioche bun.

I also requested a half-order of pommes frites for $5, fried once in duck fat and once in soybean oil, and served with three dipping sauces. Now that I’ve had 24 hours to think about it, do I really need to eat potatoes fried twice? They were good, but no better than In-N-Out’s, which are half the price.

For greenery, I settled on the Bistro Frisee Salad for $9, tossed with apples, toasted pecans, grapes, bacon lardons (is that a fancy word for lard?) fourme d’ambert cheese and a soft poached egg. Yes, it was the first time that I had ever eaten a salad with a warm, perfectly cooked poached egg on top, but I enjoyed it a great deal. I just wished I hadn’t also had a three-egg omelette for breakfast.

With tax, my bill came to $29.36. Had I ordered a glass of wine, my bill with tip would have been well over $40. As it was, it came to $35 for a hamburger, salad and a half order of fries.

The Back Abbey is fun, casual and loud and boasts good young energy. I just hope I don’t have to go to confession any time soon and admit that I paid $35 for my three-course meal consisting of a burger, fries and salad.

On Monday, I’ll be back at Burger King or Carl’s.

If you’ve eaten at The Back Abbey, share your experience with us at LaVerneOnline.

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