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Category: steakhouse Page 2 of 3

Montana’s

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How do you follow shooting pistols, revolvers, and atomic rifles at a gun range? With plenty of meat for cheap, cause ammo isn’t. And when I think hearty eats for less I think Montana’s, which also happens to be conveniently located in Coquitlam, a couple of kilometres away from the range.

It was dressed like a wood cabin and its decor did everything it could to have you concluding this was the place you wanted to be for hunks of meat and whole potatoes as sides. Fresh game procured from their morning’s hunt maybe? They were painting an illusion and I was easily buying into it.

Walking up to the building, it looked like a cowboy saloon with a pebbled stone exterior. Inside, the room was rampant with wood detailing and furnishings. Wooden floors, wooden arch ways, wood trunks leading to the ceiling’s wooden support beams, and glossy wood tables and chairs. There was even a wooden chandelier crafted to look like the points of antlers. It, like the other decorations added interest to the walls and rafters in a rugged in theme. Snow shoes and skis side stepping on the wall, imitation pine foliage and little trees lining the ceilings. And they even managed to hoist a red truck over tables to create an archway.

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Within the foyer, by the hostess booth was a wooden curio cabinet, housing their various barbecue sauces in bottles and jars for you to take home. They had over five different flavours, so you were bound to find one that you liked. And at the actual booth, they had kids colouring sheets and cardboard crowns for patrons. Female and male deer antlers to wear. I was not ashamed to admit that I helped myself to one of each and they kept us entertained as we waited for the food to come. A wait that took longer than expected, considering it wasn’t all that busy around 2pm.

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We were directed to the lounge area with its wooden bar, because he didn’t have reservations. Though looking around, they had plenty of seating options across three separate sections. Like the dining area that included a stone fireplace. But we instead sat on high tops surrounded by Canadian hockey jerseys out stretched and pinned at the shoulders. The Jets, Leaf, Montreal Canadiens, and the Canucks were well represented. A Blackhawks jersey made an appearance, but that seemed out of place.

The menu was very user friendly. Plenty of glossy steak and rib photos to order by sight.

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The “Rib n’ sausage combo” was their famous ribs served with your choice of BBQ sauce, and a fire grilled chorizo sausage with their bold deli mustard for dipping. This was the full rack of ribs that came with six bones. Although if this was not enough meat, they also had a size up, that was the jumbo version. The ribs were a messy, but delicious affair. Best enjoyed with hands, wet wipes and a bucket to discard bones were provided. The platter was served on slate plate with options for sides. My guest skipped the southern baked beans and corn for coleslaw, and made fries his choice of side with the baked cornbread.

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The “Firecracker sirloin” was a top sirloin fire-grilled to perfection. It was topped with plenty of bacon, crispy jalapeños, spicy dusted onions, and a chipotle honey BBQ sauce. The steak was perfectly cooked; and with all it toppings, each bite was different and kept interest. It came with the same side choices as the ribs above. Here, my other guest choose the baked potato and coleslaw to accompany the crispy Cajun onions that also topped the steak. Although the onions would have been nicer and stayed crispier for longer, alone on the side. The potato was the most disappointing thing on the plate. It was plain despite all its dressing.

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Looking for a smaller portion their “hand carved 7oz petite filet steak, lightly smoked” caught my eye. That and its side of waffle fries, waffle fries are the best kind of fries. And these were the best part of the plate. The crispy potatoes were perfectly fried and breaded with corn meal for that extra crunch. Although I wish there was a better ratio between it and the steak. There was double the amount of potato to meat, if not triple. It was also odd to pull a carving knife from the plate. Its presence unusual considering the meat was already cut up into manageable pieces for you. As for the meat itself, it was tough and dry at the ends and sides. Only one slice in the centre had the texture of medium rare right. The meat was also pretty bland, some additional seasonings or a side of sauce would have easily helped. And while I am asking for things, a fresh component would have been nice to cut through all the heavy starch. Maybe an oven roasted tomato or a side of sweet corn salsa, something to balance the plate. I ended up using ketchup with the potatoes and the meat. Overall, this was a good snack size portion of food at a good price.

Being within a mall means there is plenty of parking and much to look at, after you finish your meal. And we did just that, skipping desserts here for a change of scenery. Especially needed after how long we sat, past paying off our bill, and after our server repeatedly asking us if we needed more water or anything else.

Our server had a way about her. She was saying things that may normally offend you, but because she spoke with a southern charm and an air of comforting self deprecating humour, you engaged in her. Though I still found her a little brash, too lax with her “huns” and “darlings”, too comfortable as she leaned on our table to speak, and too passive aggressive in her hints for us to leave. We eventually took her not so hidden messaging and vacated. In hindsight, I can see her appeal in the setting, a country draw that definitely added character to the place, like a attraction you would come back for.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Classic eats for great prices. Not my first choice, but one that meets the criteria when I am looking for a guaranteed good meal with plenty of fixings for under $20. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MONTANA’S
2929 Barnet Hwy, Unit 1046, Coquitlam BC, V3B 5R5
604-472-7772
montanas.ca
Montana's Cookhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Steak & BJ Day at Gotham’s

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When you have been in a committed relationship long enough, you seek out events and occasions to celebrate, and make a special day out of any day. After Valentine’s Day comes “Steak and BJ day”. Basically a tongue and cheek (excuse the pun) way to say the male equivalent of valentines. Men lavish women with romance and gifts on February 14, and in return women give them a day the way they like it: apparently to the point and direct. There is already something similar in Japan. In Japan, for Valentine’s women treat men, then men reciprocate on “White Day”, a month later, in like fashion. A lot more delicate and polite of a name than the North American version.

It was in the name, so we had to go for steak. My partner has yet to try the ones at “Gotham” so thought it as good of a place as any for such an occasion.

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The restaurant is very regal looking. He deemed it, “on another level” of prestigious with its crisp linens, dim lights, and vaulted ceiling. It was the detailing that made me feeling little in this rich space. Chestnut on wood panels, luscious red booths of velvet, ceiling to floor painting in breathy tones, and white table cloths paired with cloth napkins folded at precision points.

Our server was dressed in a white waist coat, like a doctor. He looked very dapper and was just as impressive as the setting. I appreciated that he didn’t discriminate and treat us like we could afford a round for the whole place. He didn’t assume that we weren’t interested in the bin’s list, and even tried to sell us on it. This was a list of top shelf liquors, at the bottom of their bottles. They were limited time only features, a great way to taste something you might not otherwise get the chance to, at a discounted price. Although it was still fairly pricy in the opinion of my pocket book.

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We were given our time to peruse the menu and weigh our options. They had more than just steak available, but you don’t get anything other than some prime cuts of beef from a steakhouse, so we didn’t bother looking at anything else. Each steak was priced on its own, and if you wanted sides with it, they would be extra.

Similarly was bread situation. They no longer passed out complimentary baskets of bread before your meal. It was explained that, not everyone wanted or ate from it and therefore a lot of it went to waste. We were given the option to order cheese toast or onion loaf as a side in its replacement. We declined, preferring to use the money towards sides for our main.

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We got the side of “onion rings” to start like an appy. Our proper server thought it was a good idea and wondered why more people didn’t do the same. Sadly the onion rings were just okay. I don’t know why I thought onion rings at such a venue would be better than rings from a restaurant with a dedicated fry cook. They were over priced for 7 rings. Over a $1 for each, and it didn’t even taste any better or look any different from the ones you can get from any concession stand, at a fraction of the price. In fact we wished for more breeding and a longer fry. The batter was light, but we preferred it chunkier, and crispier. Ideally a greater batter to onion ratio, so you can’t taste the onion or feel it’s waxy slimy texture between our teeth. $11 was too much to pay for this.

I don’t typically list the prices for what I have, unless it’s ridiculously cheap or outrageously expensive. I believe that you pay for what you get and that quality comes at a cost. If you want a delicious meal, there needs to be an investment in the ingredients and in those who prepare and serve it to you. So there is no point to argue over price, it is there for a reason and you can either take it or leave it. However I would like to point it out here for value and comparison purposes between other upscale steak houses. A good contrast between other who steak places that boast similar quality of cut and level of service.

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I got the “Bone in rib eye steak” at 20oz for $66. For 12oz more I would have to pay $93. I considered it, but no one needs that much meat. I remembered not being able to finish a 26oz steak, although that was all meat. This steak was more fat than meat, 1/3 of it was gristle that even I couldn’t work my way through. Although scraped aside, the fat was necessary to get the rest of the cut as tender and luscious as it was. The pieces in the centre that were cooked perfectly pink were amazing. It melted in your mouth. This definitely isn’t an every day steak in cholesterol and price, but a great one for an occasional indulgence.

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My partner prefers his meats lean so went with the “Filet mignon” at 14oz for $75. Their petit size at 8oz went for $50. I encouraged him to go for the larger size as it never looks like much. However I would be wrong. The steak was so thick and so solid that he was quick to full and unable to finish. The cut was very lean as promised, in hindsight 8oz would have been perfect. The sides with its charred grill and coarse seasonings were the best bites with its saltiness. The meat as a whole was a nice piece, done medium rare. There was no sinew or fat in this steak, where as I was collecting a mound of it on my plate. However mine was more tender than his, thanks to the fat and the meat by the bone.

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The sides came on literal side plates, generous portions with enough to feed more than two. Great to see as the potatoes were $8 and the asparagus was $14. “Baked Idaho mashed” and “Fresh asparagus”. Both were fairly standard. They didn’t have much flavour on their own, they were true sides. They were a great way to change the taste and dilute the mains a little. I advise taking a bite of steak and then one of both the sides.

As an added touch, when we got the bill, our server offered to get us a cab or to get our car pulled around by the valet. None of which we needed, but was nice of him to offer and ask.

My only complaint, was the draft that wafted in each time the front door opened, we were left to freeze from the breeze. And the distance from the front of house dining area to the washrooms. The restaurant was huge, with several levels and sectioned off rooms. Though from each corner and wherever you sat, it still required a cascading climb down a spiralling staircase to reach their facilities. The washrooms were only convenient for the private dining rooms in the basement.

And that was us having steak for dinner… I will leave it at just that.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Many steak options in the city, and this is one of the good ones. A great one for a work night out or a place to impress a date at. Come prepared to pay for what you get. I advise only having steak. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GOTHAM’S STEAKHOUSE
615 Seymour St, Vancouver BC, V6B 3K3
604-605-8282
gothamsteakhouse.com
Gotham Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CHOP Steakhouse & Bar

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When I am thinking of steak, “Chop” isn’t the first authority that comes to mind. It’s typically “The Keg”, then from there I weigh my budget as I search for something more more luxurious. However I was gifted with a gift card and that was reason enough to visit. Even if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to pay for all of it, so it would be a good deal any way I looked at it. And what better a day than on Valentine’s to have steak. Nothing is more romantic than getting your man steak on February 14th, even if its with a gift card, cause and that is just practical.

Tonight it was rainy and their patio was covered up for the season. But we took a pause to appreciate how it would be during on season. It seemed grand with their oversized lamps, fire pit, unique shrubbery, and curved booths. You could tell this was a nice patio to be on during hot summer days, and one to be seen on. A great stop for those living in Richmond, not wanting to travel to downtown Vancouver for a patio as nice as this.

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We walked past it towards the entrance, following the covered corridor with its path lit in tiny bulbs. It curved to the door, in line with foliage pruned to look like two round lollipops.

Pass the heavy doors, inside was their hostess booth and foyer with guests waiting to be seated. In celebration of the occasion they set out some drinks and canapés to set the mood. A help yourself collection of wines with glasses; and a bite of strawberry, cream cheese, and balsamic over a crostini. We weren’t able to indulge in either as we had made reservations and our table was ready.

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We were led to the dining room rich in brown tones. Suade meets leather booths, carpeted floors, a painted ceiling; and protruding blocks with light, hiding any piping above. There wasn’t much in terms of decoration or art, outside a few light fixtur. There were nice wiry orbs hovering over select tables. We wished we were under those, they made for quite the romantic scene. Though given our spacious booth that sat four, we were happy to have our table and be able to sit side by side at it.

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Today was Sunday and surprisingly they didn’t have Caesars on special, as most restaurants do. Shame, as I wanted to try their “Craft Caesar” made using Walter’s clamato with vine ripened tomatoes, gluten free vodka, and their house made hot sauce. Caesars are on special on Wednesdays. None the less, I ordered it being lured in by the description of scratch made tomato juice. What would this be like in a cocktail? Not surprising, you tasted it within its thicker texture. It was similar to paste, with a strong grilled tomato flavour. It would have been great as a sauce over pasta. And as a result, a little heavy to drink as it, being too flavourful without food. But luckily it was complimentary to our entrees below. I took a bite of food then a sip of Caesar. I was disappointed to not have any of the garnishes mentioned on the menu. Where was the promised sweet pepper and olive toppers? I didn’t mentioned it to our server, but hate to have to check over their work as a diner. I expect what is advertised, although I know many patrons don’t even read the descriptions. And then are upset at having something they didn’t expect, but that was listed. I would have at least appreciated it, if our server mentioned that they were out of garnishes or that they are no longer part of the drink, despite still being mentioned on the menu. It was like they were hoping I wouldn’t bring it to their attention, by not reading clearly. It was already a busy night for them, and it was already hard enough to get their attention, so I ended up making no mention of it.

The “Sparking Bellini” however, impressed us. It was sparkling wine, white peach purée, and chambord royale over ice. Visually I was impressed by it, and the unusual sight of a brick of ice frozen with mashed raspberries. When the ice melted and the fruit got added to the drink, you had anew flavour element to enjoy. As for taste, it tasted like a Bellini without looking like it. Muddy with a fizzy finish, but not very strong.

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They had a set Valentine’s Day menu where you pick a appetizer, entree, and dessert out of preselected options for $49. However given my disinterest in either salad or a soup for an appetizer and that none of the desserts had me very excited, we decide to pass and just order what we wanted a la carte.

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Our meal began with a warm whole wheat bun and some frozen butter. The latter was hard to scrape, but easily soften against the fresh spongy loaf.

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With all steak orders you are given the option to have it as a set meal for about $5.99 more. The “chop experience” asks you to pay extra to include a soup or salad to start, and gives you the choice of two sides instead of just the one. I was passed for the same reason that I passed on the Valentine’s set menu above. But it was great to be given the option, whereas most servers don’t bother to suggestion sell and mention an add-on for my benefit. We went with the “Filet mignon in a red wine reduction”. Choosing the regular 8oz filet over the petite one at a $5 difference and 2oz less, so that I could share it with my partner. For sides my choices included wasabi infused mashed potatoes, a wild rice pilaf, baked potato, cut fries, or fresh seasonal vegetable. Given that I had only one side included,!I choose the largest and most filling option: the mashed potatoes. It was no different than regular mashed potatoes, with just the whisper of wasabi to give it some zing. The order also came with a bonus half tomato. I think it was included to balance out the plate and make it more fulsome looking. It was a juicy oven baked tomato with some crispy batter on top. Both side were complimentary to the steak, with plenty of mashed potato leftover once the steak was done. The filet mignon was perfectly cooked to the medium rare I had asked for. It was well seasoned with a peppery crust. Though at $38 for 8oz, I found it a bit over priced. I could have gotten more for the same cost at other steak houses.

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We also shared their “Oven roasted chicken with basil lemon pan jus”. This was served with a wild rice pilaf and seasonal vegetables, two of the five sides we had to choose between for the steak above. It wasn’t the best looking plate. Hardly gourmet for the $22 price. It was more rustic in look and taste. It was a chicken breast sliced in two, pounded flat, then battered and fried to a crisp. Although it’s nice crunch hardly lasted as the chunky chutney-like sauce overtop made the chicken soggy. It would have been nice to have the strong condiment on the side for us to pour and dip as we saw fit. Especially as it was almost too sour with the stronger essence of lemon. The chicken itself was tender and perfectly cooked juicy. It outshone the flat sides that had you wishing for some freshness. The squash and broccolini were heavy, starchy and chewy; like the wild rice. It needed something light to balance things out, like the tomato above.

I don’t know if it was just because it was Valentine’s Day, but our server wasn’t all that attentive. Especially given the regal setting and the prices we were asked to pay. It was a busy night, but not all their tables were sat and there were plenty of staff on the floor including bussers and the mangers rolling up their sleeves to serve. We were left waiting to order, waiting when we had asked for water. There was a long pause between finishing our entree and getting the dessert menu, to the point that I changed my mind on wanting to end our meal on something sweet. There was even a wait to pay the bill, like everyone in our section was served before us because we didn’t opt for the set menu. Though despite all this our server was plenty friendly and very professional. Maybe it was just that they needed more staff on tonight? I even overheard one of the managers introduce herself and personally thank a neighbouring table for joining them this Valentine’s. She then presented them a discount card for their next visit. I wish we too were extended that courtesy.

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The space was actually much larger than we originally thought, something we discovered on our way to the facilities. A tunnel of light led to a secondary dining area and both gender washrooms included lounges. The men’s in particular was one of the nicest I have ever been too. It had wooden rafters, a circle of mirrors for that 360 degree check, and even complimentary Valentine’s cards for men to jot down a sentiment, to impress their date; though they were out by the time we got there. Both washrooms had grey toilet bowls, non running stone fountain in its foyer and seating to get comfy in; though who really spends that much time waiting in the washroom?

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I wouldn’t be apposed to coming back. I might not order a full meal, but would be content on snacking and sipping in this setting. Though is a little far to travel to if you don’t live in Richmond, and it is no where near transit if you wanted to stop by for a drink. But for patrons staying at the nearby hotel, this is a lovely spot for dinner, it just needs a neighbouring casino to complete the experience. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CHOP
10251 St Edwards Drive, Richmond BC, V6X 2M9
604-276-1180
chop.ca
CHOP Steakhouse & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

West Restaurant + Bar

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With sister restaurants like Robson Street’s “CinCin” and Whistler’s “Araxi” I went in to this one excited. Finer dining on South Granville, but first you have to find it.

On a block with various boutiques and high end window displays, it is easy to walk by, and miss their simple frosted glass. They were a door-in-the-wall that could be mistaken for the door to an apartment complex or lobby. Although it is easier to located them in the dark, when their sign and awning glows white their name in light.

Stepping in, you are immediately greeted at the door and offered to have your coat, scarf, and umbrellas checked in. We were a group of 12 and had two attendants doing just that, as today’s weather required all three. In exchange you are given a coat check ticket.

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The hostess directed us towards our table. We passed by the bar on one side, and a row of glowing glass tubes on the other. The rods stood side by side at varying lengths. Round tipped bubbles of light encased in a gel coating. Like the rest of the art in the restaurant, it was unique, but you didn’t quite know what to make of it. The bar was more practical. It included a handsome shelf of wine bottles that ran the expanse of the entire serving counter; with additional bottles in a cooler, to be served at its optimal temperature. The lone bartender required a rolling library ladder to access the bottle over the height of your standard bar.

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They were able to accommodate our group of 12 with a lengthy table by the kitchen. It was craved and decorated etched marble. Our booth seats were backed by glass panels looking into their back of house. I peaked in, like a hungry child looking longingly into the window of a gingerbread house. A look that would have been better taken enroute to the washroom. This angle allowed you to grab a glance at their stainless steel and sparkling white operation in awe. Pass the window counter and the dangling heat lamps, noting all the chefs in full white. Our seats also allowed us to breath in the scent of their cooking. I most enjoyed the one of melted butter over hot heat.

The decor was a walk through of modern art. Reflective squiggles on the ceiling, twisted in curls like a maze. Velvet printed wallpaper in a murky green with specks of orange. And tactile paint splotches on a canvas, like a purposeful-random array of colour, greeting you at the door. All together I felt it took away from the elegance of the place. It made things busier than they needed it to be. Where simple plates are best paired with simple decor. Though in hindsight this was very telling of their cuisine. It spoke to their need to add excess when none was needed, only to muddy the intended subject in doing so.

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Given the bar, it was necessary to sample from it with some cocktails. A margarita with fresh lime juice on the rocks and an old fashion with cherry and carved orange peel.

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The menu mentioned the breads being baked fresh and served shortly after. It was a basket of small rounds in various grains and seeds. They were accompanied by a dish of light oil and some creamy artisanal butter. I was impressed that the complimentary basket of bread came with complimentary refills.

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We were further delighted with an amuse bouche presented in a shot glass. It reminded me of moss in a terrarium. This was a single bite hors d’oeuvre of salmon and roasted cauliflower in a truffle vinaigrette. It was surprising how much flavour was packed into this little morsel, the salmon being the most prominent note. I would have liked more of the promised truffle flavour.

The menu was quite extensive from appetizers being separated by “hot” and “cold”, and entrees between “land” and “sea”. If you couldn’t decide, they had a tasting menu of 7 courses, with its price dependent on your choice of “land”, “sea”, or “vegetarian”. Looking for less variety, a smaller tasting of 3 courses called “pre theatre” was available. And it is intended as its name suggested: the dinner before a movie or a show. Where you had the option of enjoying the dessert course before or after the performance, so long as you are seated before 6pm.

Between our group of 12 we tried 8 different entrees, and were only missing two of the ten options: the tarragon crusted sturgeon and the mushroom vegetarian dish.

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Three people ordered the salmon. This was a “Wild B.C. Salmon” in a black pepper glaze, with a creamy lemon spaetzle, radish, and a dill emulsion. “Spaetzle” is a kind of soft egg noodle, it looks like scrabbled eggs with a similar texture, but here more moist. Having three diners try the fish we deduced that it wasn’t consistent. The experience varies to the point that one of the three felt sick with stomach pains shortly after finish. The other two loved what they had. The fish’s skin was declared a revelation, and it’s sauce was even sopped clean off the plate using a piece of bread.

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Two ordered the “Haida gwaii sablefish” and were impressed with the fish, but were left scratching their heads when it came to the sides. The sablefish was seasoned with a three vinegar glaze, and served with daikon and marinaded mushroom; all in a dashi broth. The broth came separate in a carafe, and was poured right before those who ordered it. This was to ensure the large squares or nori kept crisp. The sheets umbrella-ing the fish gave it a salty tang and a smokey quality. The sablefish itself was delicious and flakey, but the sides that accompanied it were not dynamic enough to compete. They didn’t add to the dish’s texture or to the enjoyment of dining. The plate needed something crunchy, or at least a sturdier and starchier chew. More depth in a rich side or heavier sauce. The plate as a whole was too light and too cohesive in its one note texture.

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Similarly, the butter braised “Northern ling cod” left you wanting more in terms of texture. It was listed as being served with honey mussels and chorizo, in a champagne vinaigrette. So the mound of lentils was a surprise and not necessary. In fact it’s grainy texture took away from the buttery fish.

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Anything with an egg yolk is a win, even if it’s over fried, as was the case with the “Duo of Fraser valley pork”. This was braised pork cheek and crispy pork belly served with Swiss chard, in a bone broth. The egg was fried to a crisp, and the Swiss chard too tough to cut into and too fibrous to chew through, but in contrast the meat was perfect. Both selections were fattier cuts that almost melted, with the meat easily flaking apart.

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The “Smoked yarrow meadows duck breast” came with celeriac and Brussels sprouts, in a blood orange jus. The duck meat was the perfect blend of rich and fatty. Similarly, it’s sauce was a little of everything. Sweet, salt, and tart from the hint of plum.

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The 5oz “AAA Alberta flatiron steak” was just the perfect amount, any more and my guest that enjoyed it, would have been able to finish it. It was a perfectly round medallion served with confit potatoes, port shallots, and bone marrow butter. All the three other cuts of beef came with the same sides as well. The steak was cooked to a perfect pinky medium rare. Naturally juicy with a caramelized sauce that gave the plate some sweetness.

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The “Farmcrest organic chicken breast” was all meat. A thorough chunk of white chicken breast without any fat or sinew. Yet it was still tender, juicy, and surprisingly easy to cut in to. It was served with a flavourful porcini mushroom gnocchi, with wild mushrooms in a balsamic jus. There was even some potato chunks that surprised and delighted in a few bites.

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I often find myself ordering what others do not as it helps for more fulsome blog posts. It requires me ordering last, and maybe something I wouldn’t otherwise consider. Today my method had me trying lamb neck for the first time. I didn’t even know there was meat on the lamb’s neck to be eaten. So was surprised by this large chunk of meat before me, and then further surprised to see that it was without bones. According to one of my guests who has had interactions with a professional lamb breeder, the neck meat is apparently the most tender. After taking a cautious bite, then jumping in with knife and fork, I could see that. The meat was gamey and deep with its herbed crust. The braised neck came wilted kale, sunchokes slices, and purée, in a smoked carrot sauce. The vegetable made a great pair to the tender meat. It added some great chew in the kale leaves and starchy with the thin slices of sunchokes. I mistook the latter for potato, as it tasted like it and was just as good.

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We ordered a few side servings of their “Roasted Brussels sprouts and bacon”. It’s container was darling, brought over with its lid on and then removed at the table. I don’t know why, but even after reading the description I imagined the sprouts fried and seasoned with Parmesan cheese. Therefore these fell flat with their rubbery texture and lack of flavour. Where was the bacon?

I appreciated the formality of having all the utensils and drinks placed on and served from a small wooden tray, course by course. Like everything they strived for, it was in the details. The servers were pretty consistent. Empty plates were removed quick. And when our food came, three individuals brought all they could to the group all at once. The only moment marring the experience was when the front door opened and cold air and cigarette smoke filtered in to the restaurant, and our nostrils as we ate.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Everyone agreed and acknowledged the effort put into each dish and the vibrancy in construction of it. Yet we were split in half over flavour and satisfaction. Half of
us loving our plate, half of us able to point out what distracted from it. Though as a group, we all agreed it was priced a little steep for what it was. Given the tag we expected more from quality and conception. This is definitely great meal if you aren’t paying; though if you are, you may walk out with regret and an empty wallet. I wouldn’t be opposed to visiting their bar for a drink after work. Shame, they don’t have a Happy Hour menu to take advantage of. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WEST
2881 Granville Street, Vancouver BC
604-738-8938
westrestaurant.com
West Restaurant + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Keg, “summer lobster” menu

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We came specifically to “The Keg” for their summer lobster menu, only available until the end of August. I choose this location as I like it the most. Not only because is it close to home, but because it is also out of downtown. Tucked away, it tends to be less busy and less seated. I have never had to make a reservation or to take a seat in wait. However this Thursday evening, the lot was filled and there were a few couples waiting in their spacious lobby.

I joined my guest on the patio. The weather was warm, and seeing as we have little nights left to enjoy a meal outdoors, we took full advantage of a dinner outdoors at dusk. I have dined at and written about this location before, but this was my first time on their patio. It was a semi covered seating area facing the parking lot. The potted plants, lit candles, and spot lights actually gave the area the feeling of being indoors. It kept the higher standards of “The Keg” with stone pillars and a matching stone fireplace. Although the tables and chairs were made of wicker, their pale grey colouring with metal and glass accents did give each piece of furniture a dressier feel.

As I mentioned earlier we came in with the sole intention of having lobster, so didn’t even look at the rest of the menu. We focused our attention at their “Lobster Summer” menu. My first literally went “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” and we got the first five things off the menu. We ordered all the share sized appies, what remained was an entree sized surf and turf and a whole Atlantic lobster, or just its tail. Our server was taken a back by our brazen-ness and chuckled as she wrote down each dish’s actual name. She exclaimed that we were the first to do this, this season. It felt like a victory for us.

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Our meal began with a loaf of complimentary bread and butter. Crispy on the outside and soft and spongy on the inside. The buttery was whipped smooth like cream. We saved most of the bread to be used with the dish below.

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“Lobster Gratinée” is oven-baked lobster with garlic, herbs, and melted Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses. The lobster chunks were sawed off and sectioned into a porcelain escargot plate. This plate was a handled dish that came with several dimples. Each dimple allowed a chunk of lobster to sit soaking in oil. But was well hidden under a blanket of gooey melted cheese. Cheese, lobster, and bread together can do no wrong. The cheese was salty, the buns were sweet, the herbs savoury, and the lobster pieces buttery. We used the bread as a good base for all the grease, it was great for dipping with.

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I found the “Szechwan Lobster” just so-so. Though I am probably biased seeing as I grew up having similarly prepared Asian style whole lobsters during family dinners at Chinese restaurants. Those lobsters were prepared fresh, often allowing you to choose your own crustaceans from the tank. This plate seemed like an attempt at what was described above. Golden fried lobster and shrimp, tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce with a mix of chilli peppers, red peppers and asparagus. Each piece of seafood was battered crispy. It’s flavour reminded me faintly of North American style sweet and sour. Not my favourite, but not bad. Sadly the intensity of this dressing hid the mild flavour of lobster, it actually all went better with the pieces of shrimp. The vegetables were equally heavily sauced, and as a result only offered a break in texture not taste. Together it was all very flavourful, but the dipping sauce on the side gave you options. It had a vinegar sour tang to it, better used as brine for pickling than a sauce for dipping.

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The “Crispy lobster tacos” had “golden fried lobster pieces tossed in crispy rice, and served on warm tortillas with a cabbage slaw and cilantro. The tacos was one of my favourite dishes tonight. The lobster was prepared similar to to the Asian style above, but was better company to the chilled slaw and the warm flour tortilla. It was still battered and fried with a crispy exterior and a chewy centre. There was lots of flavour from it to the creamy pickled slaw, and the grilled to a char corn kernels. It truly came together as a taco with the self added cheese sauce. It was a cheesy dill flavoured ranch-like sauce. So good that we also used it with the fries below.

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“The Keg’s” version of a lobster roll included both shrimp and lobster, to me it just seemed like a way to cut costs. The mix of lobster and shrimp in mayonnaise was sandwiched between a butter-brushed brioche roll, and served with a side of cabbage slaw and fries. I found the sweetness of the bun distracted from assumed savoury taste of the would be roll. This could have been remedied with the addition of more salt and a sprinkle of pepper, or maybe just the use of a crusty bun. At least the lobster and shrimp mix had a good amount of cream to it, and it wasn’t watery like I have had with other lobster rolls in the past. They also used large chunks of lobster, I made out a full claw; shame it had to share the lime light with shrimp. The coleslaw side was the same as in the taco, but was not so great on its own. It needed dressing, some extra kick to have it stand on its own.

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A miniature “Surf and turf” platter with two tender mini filet medallions and a three ounce Canadian Atlantic lobster tail. This was served with a different cabbage slaw and some steamed asparagus. The steak-ed portions were cooked to a perfect medium rare, snd were as great as the lobster tail they were paired with. Tender beef and juicy seafood, the ultimate best of the land meets the best of the sea plate. The beef was peppery with large cracks of peppercorn. And the tail was the purest form of lobster we had tonight, perfectly poached and dressed with melted butter. It was clever to stack the tail on top of the asparagus rods, to coat both in butter at the same time. This coleslaw was dressed in a brown sauce, it had a familiar Szechwan taste to it. Too salty on its own, better when partnered with a cut of steak. It was very clever how they used similar ingredients to create this many dishes. I mean they used the base coleslaw three different ways.

Our server was attentive, she checked in often and hovered in case she was needed. Though I wouldn’t expect anything less from “The Keg”, it is one of the higher end causal chains, with higher standards at a higher cost. My only compliant had nothing to do with the restaurant. There were plenty of fruit flies buzzing around, but that’s what happens when you choose to dine outdoors. I was stunned that they were bold enough to land and stay on a plate, even when we were swatting them left and right.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This was lobster-palooza! We covered all the main lobster flavours during this extravagant meal: creamy lobster, lobster with cheese, butter on lobster, and even lobster prepared Asian style. Having a little bit of everything is a great way to eat, and we were fully satisfied with amount of lobster we got. Shame, we would have to wait a year to have any more. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE KEG
4510 Still Creek Avenue, Vancouver BC, V5C 0B5
604-294-4626
kegsteakhouse.com
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The Roof at Black + Blue

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This seems to be our special occasion destination. We were here on the actual day of my birth, at what we believed was a restaurant that would ensure we get that fancy, not for every day dining kind of vibe.

We made a reservation, though after 9pm on statutory holiday, none was really needed. So with options, we decided to dine at their otherwise busy roof top instead. Switching our original desire for a fine dining vibe at “Black & Blue” for a more happening one at “The Roof”.

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You take the elevator up to “R” and walk out into a narrow corridor. It was lined with zebra printed cushions and pillows; and blocks that lit up in a neon pink, green, and purple. This gave those needing to wait on another night, a comfortable place to sit in. The shame glowing cubes were also used in the lounge area for some funky seating solutions. Waking in, you come head to head with a metal bull bust, before taking a sharp right into the dining area. The hostess booth is hidden behind a sharp left.

And behind it was the kitchen fully exposed. It shared a counter top with the bar to its left. It was functional, but my partner pointed out that it may not be the best thing to front the restaurant with. When you walk in, the first thing you see is a stack of clean dishes. It doesn’t really match the party vibe they have attempted to cultivate here. The music is bumping with lots of bass, the servers are dressed less conservatively, and everyone seemed to be yelling or laughing louder than normal.

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We were directed to a two top right beside another couple. Given the lack of privacy that it would cause, we requested another two seater by the adjacent stretch of fire instead. An elongated fire place with flames roaring behind glass. This was a small request that seemed so complicated, as the hostess had to leave us standing in the isle, while she conferred with the head hostess. I use to work in the restaurant industry so know this conformation is for the section, not the actual table itself. Is the server in your new section able to accommodate a new table? Are you taking business and tips away from another server with this move? Would they get it back? Though as a regular patron, that may not be something you understand, or should you really have to concern yourself with. All you see is an empty table, and all you understand is them not wanting to give it to you. Eventually we were permitted to sit in the empty table, beside the other empty tables. And when the lights dimmed the roaring fire created a nice ambiance for us. Though the half of our faces closest to the flame did start to heat up and become uncomfortable.

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In retrospect, I don’t know what the allure of a roof top patio brings? What is the draw when all you can see is dark skies and the tip tops of neighbouring buildings, taller that the one you are in?

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Like the decor, service, and dress code; the menu here was far more casual than the one offered downstairs. A one pager of raw seafood, shareable snacks, salads and sandwiches, meat prepared on their wood fire grill, and the traditional steaks they have come to be known for.

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We started off with the “Mac & Cheese sticks” served with a truffled cheese sauce on the side for dipping. These were more brick or block then stick; something my partner seemed disappointed about, as he has chosen this with the intention of it being unique and something that would make for a good photo. He knows me well. The dish came surprisingly fast for something that had to be deep fried to order. Your fork glided into the brick. A thin layer of crisp fried breading hiding luscious cheese coated noodles at its centre. The coating was like the topping on a pasta casserole, crushed potato chips or panko. But here, you get that crunch with your soften elbow macaroni in an easy to eat hand held. The mac and cheese itself was sharp with cheesy goodness, you technically didn’t need the additional cheesy sauce for flavour. But it did add a new flavour element when the original taste grew tired, after the second block. As to not spoil our appetites further we got the rest packed up to go. In doing so, our server mentioned heating it up in the oven, instead of the microwave to avoid it mashing down.

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The above went particularly well with my Caesar as tomato and cheese are natural companions. This was a spicy Caesar with a coarse rim, topped with spicy sausage, green olive, and hot pepper.

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“B+B fries” seasoned in salt and Rosemary, served with a side of spicy tomato aioli. Fancy fries.

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To take advantage of their specialty, I went with the “Beef brochette skewers” cooked over their wood fire grill. Seasoned in Montreal steak spice, served along side a seasonal panzanella salad. A “panzanella salad” is a Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes that is most popular in the summer. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. This version included arugula, cherry tomatoes, home made herbed croutons, pitted black olives, crumbled feta, red onion, and a balsamic dressing. It was a happy surprise to take a bite into watermelon, it really made the salad stand out and even more summery. I like the croutons that tasted like mini cubes of crusty garlic bread, they soaked up the vinaigrette like a sponge. I found the whole olives too distracting too take in one whole bite. It over powered the other lightly dressed vegetables.

As for the beef it was cooked perfectly to the medium rare that I expected. It came served on the cast iron skewer that it was cooked with. A server would remove it with a clothed grip and a pronged fork, right before my eyes. The meat was charred at its edges and tender in the middle. The better of the two beef dishes ordered, sadly as the menu spoke so highly of the quality of steak below.

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My partner had the 8oz beef tenderloin. Beef tenderloin served with potato salad, grainy mustard vinaigrette, and chimichurri on the side. It was listed as “Double R Ranch USDA Prime” beef. Hand sorted cattle graded to the highest standards. With only a limited number of steaks shipped around the world to certain chefs, it made them very exclusive. But I question exclusive enough for a $21 difference between my portion and his? Where by looks it seemed like the same amount of beef for both entrees. And worst, poor preparation felt us deeming his tenderloin definitely not worth its $47 requested price.

My partner too asked for his steak to be prepared medium rare. After a bite in, we found it more on the rare to purple side, a look and texture we were not comfortable consuming. After hailing our server she was quick to offer a remedy. She asked if we wanted a new one prepared, or were okay with having this one just cooked further. As I already had my plate and he didn’t want to wait any longer than necessary, we just had the steak put back on the grill. After her apology, one of the managers came to echo her sentiment. Finally, he was the one to deliver the patched up plate. It looked like everything, including the sides were re-plated, with presentation in mind. He ended up waiting by the table for us to inspect it, even shining a flashlight on the steak to ensure it was perfect this time. Sadly it wasn’t, it was still on the blue side, but my partner already felt bad about complaining once, and would not let me send it back a second time. And as I eluded to earlier, it didn’t come back the same. Sadly having it put back on the grill did diminish the quality of the steak. Sadly, we were charged in full for the double cooked steak that was suppose to be the creme de la creme of beef. Where normally $47 would be considered a reasonable price for a more carefully raised beef. Where as my brochette’s flavouring came from the grilling process, his came from the meat itself, with very little seasoning needed. That is, if it was none right.

After the care they took to apologize for our undercooked steak, it took a noticeably long time for them to acknowledge us at our meal’s end. It didn’t help that our dishes were bussed and packed up by a different employee. But by the time our server came to offer us desserts, we were full, bored, and ready to go. Though the intention was to request a birthday themed dessert with writing in chocolate and a candle to blow out. A point my partner made mention to several times this night. He even had them note it when the reservations were made. So was very disappointed when nothing came of it, especially considering the prestige of the restaurant. He expected better treatment and more fan fare, at least after he said it was my actual birth day, three times in person, to three different employees.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Sadly tonight’s dinner has altered my opinion of “The Roof” and “Black & Blue” by association. Sadly I don’t feel the need to return again, or at least anytime soon. We felt let down in consideration to our past visits. And ironically we were thinking of just going to “The Keg” for steak, but wanted the glitz of a Glowbal group establishment. But maybe all this was just because we were dining on the roof, as “Black & Blue” is the true fine dining restaurant. Or maybe we just expected too much? Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE ROOF
Third floor of Black+Blue
1032 Alberni St, Vancouver BC
604-637-0777
the-roof.ca
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C-Prime Modern Italian Steak & Wine

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I only find myself at “Century Plaza Hotel” when I attend a comedy show, but I always find myself at their restaurant when I do.

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The name is new, but the feel and the decor of the place is very similar to its last reincarnation. A true hotel lobby bar/lounge feel. A large space, dark with dim lights, coupled with the feeling of regality. I guess the restaurant has to reflect the hotel. After all, you don’t have a country style family restaurant at a 4.5 star establishment in the middle of downtown. You best believe the restaurant has to be 4.5 star to be in a 4.5 star hotel. And so far, setting wise, they were giving us just that. Dark glossy wood furnishings, supple booths, deep seated recliners, and opulent chandeliers. Only what was necessary was present, but each you could be sure was done up with finesse.

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We told our server that we were here to catch the comedy show downstairs, so throughout our meal she kept track of the time for us. She gave us countdown warnings and brought us the bill without asking, all to get us out in time. This is the first time I found a server bringing out the bill, without first asking the guest, a good thing.

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Our meal began with complementary bread and seasonings. It looked more impressive than it actually was. The bread was hard, it’s texture an unenjoyable crumbliness. No matter how hard I tried and how hungry I was, I couldn’t enjoy it. The oil did help to soften the chew, but not enough to do it any good. As for the salt, it just seemed unnecessary. I hope what was left unused doesn’t get tossed out. They gave us a lot of flavoured salt to eat with the focaccia. Do most people dip their bread in oil and salt?

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My guest got the “8oz Snake river wagyu California cut rib eye”. We both expect it marbleized given wagyu’s reputation. “Wagyu” literally means “Japanese cow” and it includes several breeds of cattle. The most desired of these bovine are the ones genetically predisposed to intense marbling and increase of fat. The meat from such wagyu cattle is known for its quality, and commands a high price for it. We were paying quite a bit for our prized steak so was sad to have it turn out the way it did. The flavour was good, it had a great rub that allowed the beef’s natural flavour to shine through. But where was the fat? The morsels did not melt in our mouth. It was worst at the ends, dry and over cooked. Truly we should have sent it back, but we were on a time crunch and that is something I always feel guilty about doing. Though reality is, if you pay for something you expect to get your money’s worth and we did not here.

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As is the case with most steak places, side are separate, at a separate cost. My guest choose the “Truffle French fries”. You could smell the truffle oil and only slightly taste it. Something about truffles that can make the simple fry a worthy companion to the mighty steak. Humously, my guest felt bad asking for a side of ketchup to this side.

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I played it safe with the “Duck breast, wild mushroom and garlic mash with pan jus” and was not disappointed. The duck breast was cooked perfectly, both the pieces were tender and each bite juice. I wish I had more. The taste of duck is so distinct, and you really got it here. “Luscious” is the word we used to perfectly describe it. The meat was as velvety as the whipped smooth potatoes to its side. I would come back just for this.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I liked the setting, a modern steak house. Simple, elegant, sleek. Shame that we only found 50 percent of the food that we paid for any good. I wouldn’t be a posed to giving dinner another shot, and doing so with time for dessert. Neither like or dislike at this point. Don’t deny your cravings.

C-PRIME
Century Plaza Hotel & Spa
1015 Burrard Street, Vancouver BC
604-684-3474
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The Keg Steakhouse & Bar Burnaby

I am always apprehensive about entering a restaurant an hour to closing time. My concern is that if you attempt to dine at a restaurant moments before last call you won’t get the service and quality you expect. With the clock ticking down, the staff are tired and attempts are made to clean up early to be able to head home early. And if I am paying for a steak I want to be able to sit and enjoy it to its full capacity.

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After an appointment ran long we were under the gun to find a place still open and willing to seat us late Tuesday night. We both craved a good steak and we both agreed that “The Keg” is a decent place to get one any time of day. We called ahead and the lady at the other end confirmed that the doors would be locked at 11:30pm, but they would remain open to allow us to finish our meal. We arrived at 11pm and left an hour later. Our stay was inviting and we were not treated any differently despite the time, the dimming of the lights, and the exiting of kitchen staff.

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We sat ourselves in the lounge with the rest of the dwindling customers. We spotted the largest booth, highlighted by a single spot light, and bee lined towards it for the best seat in the house. It needed a good wipe down first. We waited and showed ourselves to its cushiony seat before it even dried. Time was of the essence at this point.

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Our server was still chipper given the time. Something we thanked her profusely for, to which she made us blush by admitting she enjoyed our patronage as pleasant customers. When I asked for her recommendation in drinks she immediately pulled out her favourite. A blackberry martini first introduced last year, that is no longer on the menu. It was a thoughtful recommendation, one that she herself loves and recommends when given the chance. Her description of it being unreal was no exaggeration. As was her, “it is everything I wanted that I didn’t know what I wanted”. It was just the right balance between being sweet with that tell tale vodka kick. Sadly with the kitchen closed and the liquor cut off we could only have the one. Until next time I guess.

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I was not shy to request for and use my hands to break into the square of complimentary bread. A loaf of crusty and chewy warm goodness. Served with a generous side of real butter. It was a good start and one that built my hunger up for the entree to come.

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When at “The Keg” it’s almost obligatory to order steak. And when ordering you are giving a plethora of cuts, seasonings, and preparations. For those who are unfamiliar, you are given a choice of how thoroughly your meat will be cooked. A guide on each menu makes this process even easier. Each cut is available in a range from well to rare. Except for their baseball sirloin which is so thick that they can only prepare it on the rarer side. However I am one of those diners who believe it is medium to rare or not even at all. I went with the menu’s suggestion and ordered their “Top sirloin”, considered their most flavourful steak. This was also the only cut with size options. I went for the largest at 12oz over the 6oz or 8oz. The steak was a leaner cut with a nice rub. It was prepared the perfect pink, with a nice char. Tender and juicy, I have no complaints. I came in and got just what I wanted.

Each steak also comes with your choice of sides. The usual suspects were available: mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, twice baked potatoes, fries, mixed vegetables, and rice. We both had the garlic mashed potatoes made with red potatoes and their skins. The garlic was definitely the feature flavour. I like the skins mixed in as they give an other wise whipped smooth bite some interesting texture, but I know it is not for everyone.

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I ordered an additional side of vegetables and was disappointed. Our server warned me that my entree would come with a few string beans, but I wanted more. I figured a side of vegetables would have more panache than a few strung beans. The latter turned out to be better than the beans present in the vegetable mix. They could have at least been served seasoned and cooked crisp. Instead what I got was a sad looking plate of limp and bland vegetables. It was not what I had expected and I was sad to have to pay extra for it. Though given the time was not about to bring it to anyone’s attention. Ar least their colouring was still bright and they still had their intended healthy taste.

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My guest ambitiously ordered her usual cut, the “Rib steak”, a hearty bone-in rib steak served with sautéed field mushrooms. It was a whopping 20oz and it delivered in look and in taste. This was a much fattier cut than mine above. The pockets of fat made the meat surrounding them even more tender. Though not many folks can get past the texture of gristle. And like my steak it too came with perfect scorch marks from a grill and a smokiness for its charring. Needless to say she packed more than half of it to go.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
“The Keg” is a staple so I foresee a return in my future. Its a chain where you can get a good steak at a good price. There are no other steak house in the area, and not many restaurants nearby offering steak as good. Don’t deny your cravings.

THE KEG
4510 Still Creek Avenue, Burnaby BC, V5C0B5
604-294-4626
kegsteakhouse.com
The Keg Steakhouse + Bar on Urbanspoon

Shirakawa

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A new Japanese fusion tapas place, a first in the area. Located the hub of Gastown, this was formerly home to “Boneta”. How quick things change in this city. “Shirakawa” prides themselves on offering a true and complete Japanese dining experience. They are focused on serving the highest quality proteins and organic produce without sacraficing traditional Japanese culinary methods. They do so by utilizing local purveyors and products to specialize in Japanese kappo, sushi, and teppan grill. Even going so far as to import high-end Kuroge Wagyu Beef from Japan.

 

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I really like the location and the space, clean and simple. The room was dark with black walls and black tables and chairs. The lighting made the darkness romantic. Paper lanterns hovered close to the ceiling, they hung above you like orbs of gold. And delicate votives housing lit tea lights, with their creases they looked like paper cups made out of ceramic. Each seat was set with a dressing that included wooden chopsticks resting on its own matching stand; and a usable napkin, neatly folded with crisp lines like in origami.

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Most impressive was their kitchen. Surrounding its window was a mural. It almost looked undone, a sketch and outline painted in silver. Fluffy clouds and a sky of streaks. Two characters popped in black and either red or green. Friendly faced creatures with a smile and a cheeky grin. With the window open, it allowed for a full view of their operation: stainless steel and a wooden counter. And four chefs in white smocks. With their heads down and their arms moving, they dedicated to dressing each plate like a work of art. Though as I sat facing this scene, alone, waiting for my guests, to arrive, I found it intimidating. It was a them versus me feel. But as soon as my table was full and I was allowed to peer past my guests, I found the ability to watch plates come to pass a real treat.

Our server was friendly and bubbly. Attentively, she was talkative, only speaking highly of her place of work. I could not sing her praises more, her energy was infectious and it had me as excited as herself after each encounter. This was truly some of the best service I have had. She offered us a spiel because it was our first time here. The restaurant is well known for their teppan grill work. With this shift in focus there isn’t much sushi on the menu. Our server also explaining that this was because their head chef preferred not the style, and he just didn’t enjoy preparing regular sushi in roll form. She explained how they served tapas style small plates, and suggested that two dishes per person to share would be a good amount of food. She went over each of their daily cocktail and food specials, selling us on each one. We were appreciative of her including the price of each without asking, something not often done or considered. Each option was spoken with much energy and her full enthusiasm, they sounded delicious, she made us want it. Even stewed beef tongue and soften daikon sounded amazing coming from her. Most impressive was how she enunciated her Japanese, listing each menu item by its traditional name before explaining its modern recipe.

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As expected the menu was filled with creative twists and unique add-on, it created a very distinctive fusion offering starting from cocktails. Cocktails with ume shu and egg whites, a spiked jasmine tea, and even one that uses Thai chilies and wasabi. For the dishes: a panko-breaded pork cutlet with harvarti cheese and black miso, sakura chip smoked black cod with sundried tomato, and a chicken seasoned with a maple syrup infused “New Style teriyaki”. The whole saltwater eel was interesting, but not enough for me to try, I couldn’t commit to a whole eel; just thinking of its slithering shape creeps me out.

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The cocktail special of the night was “Tea 4 two”. This was a grown up tea party. A cocktail served like tea with peach tea, gin, and peach schnapps. Described as being similar to a whiskey sour with its egg white foam on top. I was sold on the mention of its presentation, the tea pot and its matching cups and sauces, all served on a silver platter. Their bartender delivered it to us at our table. He explained the set up, pointing out the bonus serving of the grenadine infused foam he included. It was to be used for an added sweetness of our own choosing. The pot held exactly enough tea for two. With a little spoon to dole out the foam that remained on the bottom of the pot. Because of the tea set up you expect the first sip to be warm. None-the-less the beverage was delicious, easy to drink I could have finished the severing for two on my one.

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“Cal-pine” made with vodka, calpico, with either pineapple or orange. Your choice of fruit determined the name “cal-pine” for pineapple or “cal-ore” for orange. Light and refreshing it was more like pop and fizzy soda.

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“The White River Fishbowl” made with gin, peach schnapps, falernum, lime, and a lit grapefruit. I found out from my guests that legally you cannot have a fishbowl to yourself, with the amount of alcohol in one serving you must confirm your intention to share it. Shame you can’t tell, but the ice inside is shaped like koi fish. Two fish swimming, it explains the name. Tropical in look and taste. I wished I had asked what a “lit grapefruit” was, my guess is the grapefruit juice included was from a charred or burnt grapefruit for an added smokey flavour.

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“Ebi Abo”. Not what we expected. Blanched prawns, avocado, creamy wasabi and tobiko. The menu didn’t mentioned that our prawns would be blanched so we were surprised that they weren’t fried, and even disappointed until we tasted it. It was extra creamy with tender pieces of shrimp, plenty of mayo drizzled heavily in a criss cross pattern, and cubes of ripen avocado. They kindly portioned it out for two full prawns per our three persons.

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“Kani cream croquette”, cream croquette filled with crab and béchamel. Fried to a nice browned crisp, the texture was a wonderful combination of crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It reminded me of deep fried milk, but savoury. (Its a thing, if you haven’t tried it, do so at the Richmond night market next year.) Though the crab cakes needed more flavour, the soy and cabbage they sat on gave not enough salt. A sauce for dipping would have been nice, luckily we had extra mayo leftover from the dish above and were content with using that.

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“Gindara”, sakura chip smoked black cod, sautéed mushrooms and sundried tomato. As hard as I tried I could not make out the flavour of the sakura wood in the fish. Though I imagine it would be more for its scent, as smell affects taste. The fish was prepared light and delicate. Very moist and thoroughly tender, it easily flaked apart. As per our server’s suggestion we ate it with the vegetables, and they were very complimentary. The tomatoes and mushrooms added additional flavour profiles and additional textures. And I enjoyed the variety of mushrooms included. Overall a good dish, but no where near a filling one.

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One of their specials of the night, a pork chop. A 16oz bone in, cut up and plated for easy sharing and consuming. Served with a side of gai lan and a smear of apple sauce. This is the kind of dish that makes me crave more pork after eating it, fully knowing any that I have after would not be as good. Succulent pieces marinated in a sweet and salty jus. Definitely the best dish of the night. Like all the others, there was not enough of it.

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“Buta Rice”, pork belly fried rice. So flavourful. Oily, but the good kind. A good meal ender to ensure we left fuller, in fact we had ordered it for that very reason.

The washrooms were three unisex rooms. Smaller fixtures gave each more space. Comically the lock inside the room had a sticker above it that read, “use me please”. My guest learned first hand the importance of this. In her attempt to choose a facility she opened the door on a man already engaged in bodily movements.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The food was amazing, but because of the portion and the price it’s one of those places you eat first before going to or make plans for a second meal after. I definitely left wanting more food and wishing I could afford to double up on all that we had. I would definitely come back for and recommended this place for a drink or two. The cocktails are fun and inventive, the space is comfortable and relaxing, and none of the staff hurried us out. Don’t deny your cravings.

SHIRAKAWA
115-12 Water Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1A5
604-336-6918
shirakawagastown.com
Shirakawa on Urbanspoon

Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant

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A 29th birthday is not an everyday affair, so when choosing a destination my guest wanted only the best for her landmark celebration. She chose a restaurant with a history and a one of a kind view. You sit and dine as the building provides a rotating view of the city before you. Here there is no need to request a certain seat, because within a few minutes you will get to see it all, slowly.

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Located in Harbour centre the entrance is in the building and up an elevator. As a tourist attraction with an observation deck, two attendees were stationed behind a booth by the elevator shaft. They direct guests to the restaurant and sell visitors an elevator ride with a view. The ride up was a long one, you watched the lights grow smaller and the expanse of city open up in the distance. My ears pops from the pressure at 550 feet up. the photos above were taken traveling up the elevator.

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At the restaurant the doors opened up to a stationary hostess booth. In this domed bubble high above the city, only a portion of the space rotates. Just the outer rim spun. If you think about it, only a sheet of squeaky clean glass separated your table from the possibility of plunging down a 550 feet. This unique dining room slowly rotates around the still bar and unmoving kitchen. If timed right you need not even travel far to use the facilities. The washroom will eventually come right to you on its 360 degree spin. The view and the stationary part of the restaurant revolved around us. It felt surreal to have both sides of you continuously move. Each time you look away then back it is different, kept the room interesting. When asked, we were told the room spins faster with less people weighting its down. It is approximately 45 minutes per rotation.

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Looking around the room tonight this seemed to be a most popular destination with Asian tourists, like me they were busy snapping photos of the scenery in between using flash on their food. After all, what better way is there to see the city in comfort? Tonight this was also the destination to celebrate once in a year or once in a lifetime affairs. Anniversaries, promotion, goodbyes, or like us here to celebrate our friend’s last year in her 20’s. With their ten thousand dollar view and food prices just as steep, I wouldn’t deem this an any day dining destination.

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The wooden bar and tiled dance floor gave away the age of the place. Even though the space was no longer being used for its intended purpose, the original coloured lights above were kept lit in bars of purple, red, and green. It was just missing the disco ball. Over the well waxed hardwood floors were additional tables. It became a spot for those who got nauseous as the floor spun beneath them. A table by the bar to drink and watch others “ring around the Rosie”.

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I felt the revolving restaurant took influences from a fine French establishment. Servers were dressed in formal apparel: ties, vests, pleated pants, and crisp ironed shirts. They looked dapper serving fine wines in ice buckets, and pouring glasses by the bottles. Crisp white table cloths and red reusable napkins folded like pointed burgundy towers waited for you at every table. Flickering tea lights and a freshly picked flower centred each arrangement. Things were dressed to be more on the romantic side.

The nods of French influences were also pronounced in the menu: duck confit in a dish with duck breast and duck risotto, escargot in a heavy garlic butter sauce, a Pacific Smoked Salmon and a chocolate dessert Terrine, Baked French Brie, and a strawberry Napoleon. There were also set menu meals, 3-4 courses varying in price with your choice of entrees. Though the selection was no different than a salad, entree, and dessert from the regular menu; it was offered at a discount when you bundled all three. Overall the menu felt bored and tired. It had nothing stand out, nothing to set it apart. There were no seasonal offerings and I could see no updates from my last visit. This was a menu that you could find similar, served else were. It would have been nice if the cuisine married well the level of venue. Elaborate dishes that raise the bar on dinner as the view raised the bar on Vancouver’s dining experience.

Our server was very friendly, with a confident voice he easily up sold. He never faltered to offer a beverage, an appetizer, suggest possible sides, and recommend dessert. He suggested we agreed, adding an appetizer and paying a little more for a better bottle of wine. He even cautioned that we had some complimentary bread and butter coming our way, so were to consider our options with that in mind. He did amazingly from a business and service standpoint. Not only did he make appealing offers, but he recommended add ons with vivid detail and delicious descriptions. He spoke with excitement and it definitely rubbed off on us and our decision to get more and pay for more.

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We were up sold to the “Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris”, as it came highly recommend by our server. Wine from one of the top five wineries in Canada, and this one was one of their best sellers. He pointed out that its few dollars more in price was well worth it for its taste. It was as good as he said: crisp, light, and refreshing. Though at $60 a bottle you are better off buying a couple at that price at your local liquor store. I guess it’s more about the ambience and where you get to enjoy your wine. Shame conversation meant distraction from the view we were clearly paying more for. Though I was really impressed when we got four clean glasses for the second bottle we ordered.

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Complimentary basket of buns and butter. There is something so comforting about fresh oven baked bread. Bread warm to the touch, you pierce the crust and steam escapes from its pockets. Warm and chewy, the butter melts on impact.

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Considering this was a fine French restaurant, and most are known for smaller portions it was surprising how large our plates were. The “Calamari” was served with tzatziki and salsa for dipping. The latter was a new twist on classic, and still complimentary with the more familiar former. Both gave a bland bite some kick. The batter on the squid could have been more crispy. It was light and unseasoned, which only made the squid taste more chewy and fishy.

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The “Stuffed Mushroom Caps” were also recommended by our server. These were stuffed with shrimp, crab meat, cream cheese, and garlic; and presented in a dish originally meant for escargot. A dish with round dimples designed to house a single snail shell in each groove. The mushrooms were served piping hot, swimming in oil. It had a good flavour if you could get past the oil slick. The greasy liquid had the filling of each spilling out, not the most composed dish. Watery lumps of cheese were what remained in the dimples.

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“Linguine Di Mare”. Linguine with lobster, prawns, baby scallops, and mussels in spicy rose sauce. There were more noodles than seafood. A mound of barely seasoned noodles that craved more red sauce. Unfortunately most of it pooled at the bottom of the bowl, but what actually kept on the noodles was good. And it wasn’t spicy like the menu made it out to be and the seafood lacked seasoning.

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Having been once long before and now recalling the quality to value, I played it safe ordering something that would give me the most bang for my buck. Something that would be filling at a reasonable cost. However this cautious route would not be beneficial. More filling noodles for less. “Penne Pollo Primavera”, marinated chicken and vegetables in a creamy alfredo sauce. My plan backfired, this was a pretty boring sounding dish with a pretty boring taste to match. The sauce was not thick enough, I wished for more of it in globs. And the Alfredo was the wateriest I have ever had. The highlights were the even ratio of chicken and vegetable to pasta. And the chicken itself was lean and tender. I was impressed by the selection of vegetables: peppers in green, red and orange; peas, onions, eggplant, and mushrooms. The pasta cooler quickly, and I realized it was not just as good cold or even at room temperature.

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“Baked Whole Lobster” served with a smoked cheese Mornay sauce. The birthday girl confirmed the lobster would be pre-cracked and served open. No need to roll up your sleeves and grab a nutcracker in your formal wear, “it’s unladylike after all”. Left in the shell, the lobster meat was heavily dressed with cream and cheese. The heavy garlic flavour unfortunately hid the the freshness of the sweet lobster meat. The bonus was having a complimentary side with the lobster, one not mentioned on the menu. This was a small serving of rice pilaff; made with celery, corn kernels, carrot, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes. A simple side that tasted like the vegetables and olive oil, an ideal side for a creamy lobster main.

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My other guest asked the server for the largest portion on a plate. What he recommended wasn’t on the menu. Today’s steak feature was a 16oz ribeye served with a Gorgonzola butter. The ribeye was described as being fattier than a New York steak. Juicer morsels made tender from the pockets of fat in the meat as they cook down. My guest couldn’t be happier, a large slab the size of her face, served at a perfect medium rare.

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Upon hearing we were here for a birthday, our server surprised the birthday girl with a complimentary slice of cake. He presented it with a lit candle and four forks for sharing. The “Top of Vancouver Mango Cheesecake”. Unbaked cream cheese, marscapone, and a touch of brandy. Served with strawberry coulis and creme anglaise. A rich and creamy cheese cake, but as light as angel food cake. The layer of mango was a refreshing twist in flavour, a sharp kick without overwhelming the fluffy marscapone.

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Disappointingly the washrooms were not well kept. It was already clear that the building was old, but this room screamed the need for a renovation. It needed an update, to expel the grim and bring forth it to this time. For the price of the food and the expectation of the place I expected more. These were just dirty washrooms. No one bothered to keep the space clean, let alone restock the empty toilet paper rolls. My guest went in, only to come out, deciding it was better to save it for the after party. This was definitely not in line with the rest of the restaurant. Like the bowl of after diner mints on the hostess booth, the washroom was sticky and stale.

Curious was our server’s inability to split plates. We wanted the help to identify who was to pay what. But because they lacked the technology to divide by three, we took over ten minutes with the math. Imagine heads down and phone calculator apps open.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I will not be back on my own volition, only returning for celebration or a big event. My first time so many years ago was in celebration of my uncle and aunt’s first time visiting Canada. And as I eluded to, I remembered the same calamari and the same escargot on the menu, amongst other things. I find the cost too high for a meal eaten for the sake of being hungry. This is a classic fine dining spot, where the focus is not on the decor or the food, but more what you could only get at this elevation: a view that won’t quit. The restaurant is best as a destination on a romantic night or a tourist stop for those visiting. And at 550 feet above the city this is a must see at least once. Though truth be told, after one visit, a few pictures, and a taste of the food I can’t see myself needing a return trip anytime soon. And not just because the menu seems stagnant, without seasonal offering. Don’t deny your cravings

TOP OF VANCOUVER
555 West Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6B1M1
604-669-2220
topofvancouver.com
Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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