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Jun 1, 2008 07:35 PM

The Strange Relic called The Brave Bull's House of Steaks --- Vancouver, pics

If David Lynch were a restauranteur, this is the kind of place he would run.

Many of you Vancouverites have probably driven by this place at Hastings and Clark, but have never considered dining there. The signs outside the building advertise steaks for $8.95. So is it worth the time to eat there? It depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for a great steak, keep driving. If you are looking for a strange, Lynchian parallel universe....then this is the place for you.

The restaurant is run by old Chinese couple who are both in their 70's. The lady owner who served us explained in her broken English the they kept their 1991 prices because they were too lazy to change the signage outside. The restaurant's clientele is made up mainly of regulars who live in this area. They are an odd mix of truckers, tattooed longshoremen, prostitutes, and slumming hipsters.

The food...well, let's just say it isn't worth discussing....but since this is a food board...The Salad is bagged iceberg lettuce mix. You get a choice of bottled dressing...I opted for Italian. You also get a choice of soup: beef barley and cream of mushroom - both canned. I chose cream of mushroom. My friend had the steak and I had prime rib. The gravy was an odd grey colour and tasted like powdered gravy cut with flour. The beef was definiely Prime or might be beef down into the "B" grades. The meals come with a foil-covered baked potato...with the requisite Bacon Bits.

The food was edible...but with such places such as the Argo (steak for $10 Rib Eye), Stella's ($12 Steak Frites), or even the Hamilton Street Grill ($12? Hanger Steak), there really isn't a reason to this far downmarket to save three or four bucks....unless of course you are really after the ambiance.


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  1. Thanks for the review! I've driven by this place so many times and have always wondered what it was like, but was too scared to try it out :-)

    1. fmed you are awesome!! I love that you post reviews of Fuel and BBHOS in the same day! You remind me of myself in Calgary, where any given week could range from Divino to The Blackfoot Truckstop and everywhere in between. Thanks for this post and keep up the diligent eating.

      16 Replies
      1. re: formerlyfingers

        FF - there is nothing wrong with the Blackfoot Truckstop. In fact, it's mildly insulting that you compare it to BBHOS :) 9th Ave SE is nothing like East Hastings. Calgary just can't compete in that regard!

        Now, if you've had a meal at the Cecil, i would love to hear a report on it!

        1. re: yen

          hmmm... a meal at the Cecil?...a whole different meaning for the Raw Bar

          1. re: Bob Mac

            I had nachos at the Cecil once. It's a good thing I was drunk, and had had a decent lunch.
            But I loved some of the strippers Shoes! :)

            1. re: starlady

              You're the first person i know who has eaten there. I've had drinks there, but i've never known anyone brave enough to eat there - kudo's to you starlady! :)

              1. re: yen

                Unfortunately, I think starlady is referring to the Cecil in Vancouver... not Calgary.

                The reference to strippers shoes gives it away. No naked ladies dancing around in the Calgary Cecil... though I did once see one getting carted out in handcuffs as I drove by!

          2. re: yen

            Yen. you clearly misunderstood me! I love the Blackfoot and in fact I go there quite often. My point was about the willingness to go to places that are tucked away, overlooked, misunderstood or different. And I am well aware of the reality of East Hastings; one of my regular stops in Vancouver is to the The Only for clam chowder, which is in a far more precarious location than the Brave Bull.

            Incidentally, I agree with Bob, I didn't think the pictures of the meal above looked all that bad.

            1. re: formerlyfingers

              I intend to post a review of The Only, BTW. As for the Cecil....perhaps. I can't promise pictures!

              1. re: fmed

                I've heard legends about The Only when my parents used to work in the neighbourhood in the '70s. Can't wait for your review!

                1. re: alau2

                  For what it's worth, I have had lunch at The Only half a dozen times and I return to the fried oysters and "Coney Island" clam chowder every time. The soup is served with a white bun and butter and it is absolutely one of the top two or three soups I have ever had.

                  I also look forward to another review from fmed.

            2. re: yen

              what has the Cecil got to do with Hastings Street, the Cecil is by the Granville street bridge. Why dont you try the Balmoral or the Sunrise they are actually located on Hastings. While on the topic, the Ovaltine Cafe is not bad for something cheap and I think a great atmosphere

              1. re: buddah cabaret

                Buddah Cabaret, I believe that Yen is referring to the Cecil, a decidedly dodgy bar in Calgary, and not its namesake in Vancouver.

                The Cecil in Calgary is kind of like that bar in the first Star Wars movie, but with a less-refined clientele.

                1. re: maclock

                  Thanks for clarifying for me maclock.

                  BC - FF is from Alberta - sorry for making a decidedly Alberta reference in a BC post. Maclock is right - im refering to the Cecil Hotel and Bar in Calgary.

                  1. re: yen

                    OK I am very familiar with both Cecils, one in Vancouver, great cheeseburgers, the one in Calgary great liquor store, Beerland, great prices and a few surprise finds

                2. re: buddah cabaret

                  The Ovaltine, the Balmoral and the Sunrise are all classic dives. I'll definitely be covering those. I been to all of the these many times. Buddha_cabaret....I'm assuming you derive your handle from the late, lamented Smiling Buddha...another place I have frequented in my youth....not for food, though.

                  1. re: fmed

                    It is the Smilin Buddah Cabaret, possibly the home of punk music in Canada for sure the Pacific Northwest, as well the great album by 54-40. Too bad its gone, thank god Commodore is still open

                    1. re: buddah cabaret

                      Yes indeed it is properly called "Smilin' Buddha" ...with the requisite apostrophe to replace the "g". Sadly missed.

            3. fmed:

              LOL...I haven't had breakfast yet and I have to confess that the plate of prime rib looks good right down to the foil wrapped potatoe and bacon bits you commented on...can almost hear the "Twilight Zone" theme music in the background....

              1. I've been to the BBHOS a couple of times. Personally, I love it. I love the newspaper clippings of their only review hanging around the restaurant, "No Frills: Just good steaks!". Whenever I go, I order:

                Prime Rib, "screaming rare" and a double whiskey.

                It's only fitting.


                  This East Vancouver institution is closing its doors forever .

                  Linda and Frank are finally RETIRING AFTER 27 YEARS!! Last day for restaurant business is Sunday, September 2, 2012.

                  SALE STARTS MONDAY - LABOUR DAY SEPT. 3, 2012 --- 12:00 NOON to 5:00 PM - SELLING RESTAURANT EQUIPMENT , SUPPLIES, tables, chairs, decorations, utensils, glasses, cups, plates, freezers, AND MORE . Come and check it out.

                  or just drop by and wish Frank and Linda luck in their golden years They would LOVE to see you, too