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Category: steakhouse

Hollywood Steakhouse

IMG_9853IMG_9854Looking for a decent Hong Kong style dinner in Richmond, my guest remembered my appreciation for themes so took me here. As its name suggests the restaurant’s decor was centred around film and movies. It bounced around: taking you back to old Hollywood, the days of noire and back and white cinematography; then immersing you in twentieth century pop culture characters and references.

The exterior parking lot facing windows were decal-ed with a film strip, it ran all around the black and white building, reading “Hollywood”. Their logo was a bull’s bust facing off against a fork, a natural reminder that they are a steakhouse and a cafe despite their name. By the entrance a full poster dropped down. It presence was hoping to entice those passing by with coloured photographs of their most popular dishes.

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My guest found the strung up LED lights and the row of blinking icicles visible from both inside and out a nice touch. I found it a sign of laziness. They were probably left up after Christmas of 2013. This is a pet peeve of mine. If you plan to decorate for the holidays and celebrate the seasons with lights and ornaments you need to be prepared to take them down in a timely manner. Taking a note from retail stores, as soon as an occasion elapses you change your theme and move on to promote the next thing. For example the morning after Halloween evening stores everywhere will be pushing Christmas front and centre. Though luckily for “Hollywood Steakhouse” we are now approaching fall and in about a month or two their lights will be relevant again for winter.

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Stepping inside you don’t know where to look first. Most would consider the floor to ceiling decorations clutter, but you could tell a great deal of effort was put into covering every inch of available wall space. Walls coated in memorabilia and photos in black, white, and grey. As a result the room was dark and the setting a bit gloomy. Kind of like at movie theatres before all the lights dimmed and the previews ran.

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Geometric stars with names of celebrity stars were stickered on floor. Laid down by the entrance they were meant to mimic the walk of fame. Cardboard cutouts of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator and a battered Bruce Lee stood on guard. The walls were papered in grey with spotted white “O’s”. They were a similar pattern to each of the monochrome toned table cloths haphazardly polka dotted. Paintings of pool halls, poker games, gentleman’s clubs, and other stereotypical scenes from gangster and good fellow movies hung together. Images of various video equipment: cameras, film reels, canisters, tape rolls, and projectors were scattered high above above the room. And very classic, black and white stills of Marilyn Monore and Audrey Hepburn graced the space. All this movie and film memorabilia was intermingled with reminders that this is still a restaurant. Statues of chefs in white smocks and puffed up hats, extending their menus and a welcoming hand. A metal wine rack bolted to the wall, it held bottles between wire glasses. And a full menu transposed in chalk on a black board. On the television monitors played Asian concert DVDs with the audio broadcasted as music overhead. It reminded you that this was a Hong Kong style diner. Out of place was the giant wheeled tricycle and the moped plastered with logos. Both felt irrelevant unless they were a set prop that I am unaware off.

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The menu had Betty Boop on the cover. In her little waitress apron she posed with a tray of food for a videographer and director. Each page had similar images of her costumed with a random cartooned animals and ingredients. Titles in Chinese characters and English script said little about what you would be getting. “Ham & egg” and “fish”? What would the assorted vegetables in the fried rice be? What is the difference between the “Singaporean style fried vermicelli” and the “Malaysian style fried rice noodle”? A diner unfamiliar and new to the cuisine would have difficulty with this menu. Luckily a photo heavy menu insert was available. Condensing the full menu to a one pager back and front, these were their most popular dishes celebrated in full colour, captured in close up shots. Here you ordered with your eyes, a guide perfect for those new to the cuisine and unfamiliar with the language.

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My guest’s order of “Sole cutlet and angus beef tenderloin cubes on rice” came with your choice of drink and a soup on the side. He got a half coffee and half tea and cream soup over a borsch.

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The cream soup possibility used a can of cream of chicken soup as its base with kernels of corn and chunks of ham stirred it. It was descent, silky with a very strong corn flavour.

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With the sole cutlet and angus chunks, for once the picture didn’t do the dish justice. Portions were large and colours were bolder in real life. The fish fillet was very well breaded, a golden deep fry cutlet fried light and flaky. You cut into it with a hearty crunch. Though I am sure that the tartar sauce served as an accompaniment was bottled from the grocery store. The cubed pieces of steak were tender, and its sauce meaty. Good but not as impressive when chopped up like this. The vegetables were frozen carrots and corn, nothing special. Overall this dish was pretty good, especially considering half of it was not from scratch.

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“Beef brisket and noodles in soup”, always my safe dish and my go to, regardless of where I visit. Considering this wasn’t their speciality I was surprised at how good it was. Not the traditional beef noodle soup, but one of the better variations and one of the best I have had. The beef brisket was prepared separately then added on top. There were lots of it and each was well seasoned, having been prepared on its own. Very common was the ratio of noodles to beef, more noodles than beef. Towards the bottom of the large bowl the wide rice noodles soaked up majority of the delicious broth, leaving none to savour and sip. The green onions sprinkled on top were dried and tasted deep fried. Once again this didn’t taste like familiar beef noodle soup, but it was definitely better than most.

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? – No.
We came in with lowered expectations, especially given the later time of night. But everything we had at this Chinese fast food joint looked good and tasted good. This was home style cooking slightly dressed up. I am especially amazed at how good of a beef noodle I had. I am not a fan of the location or the darken decor, but on food alone I shall return. I hear the laksa is worth trying as well. Sometimes in Hollywood it’s all style and no substance, but with this “Hollywood” you get style and substance. Don’t deny your cravings.

HOLLYWOOD
8080 Leslie Road, Richmond BC, V6X1E4
604-248-1293
Hollywood Steak House 荷李活餐廳 on Urbanspoon

Seventeen89 Restaurant + Lounge

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This was the latest destination for our seasonal, girls night steak night. We have already hit the major steakhouses and were now exploring the lesser known ones to see how they stack up. It wasn’t until I read to the taxi driver the address of my destination did I realize the restaurant was named after the building’s number. Originally I thought it referred to the period in time which they took their influences from.

Located kitty corner to the intersection of Comox and Denman you may miss it your first time around the block. Finding parking is a hard task, with no designated lots or many street side meters, a hike to your destination is often required in this area. Hence my decision to taxi, which also supported my wanting to drink.

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They are a recent addition to the neighbourhood. I couldn’t make out much detail in the darken room. A space purposefully kept dim for a more romantic ambience. An iconic space was brought back to it’s original grandeur with plush red mohair booths, large leather chairs, curtained off private rooms, and a well stocked bar. Most impressive was the art above us. A fresco painted ceiling of cherubs intertwined with ribbons and vines.

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Decorations consisted of oversized vases fitted with elaborate floral arrangements, a mirror etched in pattern, and black and white photography. The bar only sat five on red velvet cushioned stools. And not only did it serve premium top shelf liquor it also hosted an oyster bar and their “ship to shore” feature. An advertisement drawn in chalk on a black board. A doodle of cartoon fish and a palm trees. Cute, but it didn’t really match the more formal theme of the place.

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Every little detail that surrounded us added to the preconceived air of opulence. Miniature lamps in yellow or red topped each table clothed in black. They stood along side the slender salt and pepper shakers and the carefully positioned cutlery and side plates. Like the layout everything was landed to best exemplify the stage and your relative position to it. Tables were stacked tip to tip. With two chairs a piece everyone got a view of the stage, towards the back of the room. Sitting in one of the deep back chairs with its upholstered cushions and wooden armrests, you are given the feeling of regality. Though due to the bulkiness of the chair and the precision angling it was in, there wasn’t really any possibility of shifting when I wanted. The music was loud and the ability to hold a conversation practically non existent; more so when we were unable to remove the gap between us to talk in loud whispers.

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Live jazz and blues performances happen regularly, every Tuesday and Friday to Sunday; a rotation of performers. This Friday was such a night, an event we did not expect. Despite the menu we were not charged the mentioned $10 cover fee, nor forced the $20 minimum spend. Though with a menu this rich there wasn’t much under $10. Just as well, we had come to eat and had come to chat, and truthfully found the loud music a hinderance to both. But a couple glasses of wine in I started appreciating the artists and their excitement for their own music. I didn’t dance as the lead singer requested but did sing along when I could, much to my guest’s chagrin. It was a nice treat, something not common. And it was clear that majority of the mature crowd that held seats tonight were here for the live music.

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As a whole the setting felt classic and aged. The restaurant had a homey feel, quaint despite the attempt at being fancy with furniture. A good place to name as your regular hang out, if you can afford it. With friendly staff and professional service they would certainly make an effort to get to know you and to welcome you like a friend. Our server was observant enough to notice a gift/card that my guest had with her and inquired about the occasion that brought us here. And when I sat down she made the effort to wish me a belated birthday. Later the chef and owner came out to introduce himself and his restaurant to us towards the end of their service. It was a nice touch, putting a face behind the place. He spoke about the music, the food, and was genuinely proud of what he had achieved here. He then ended the conversation with his business card.

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The menu was two pages of seafood and red meat, with prices comparable to those at other steakhouses. Seeing them I expected the quality to be on par as well. But unfortunately left disappointed. There was no bread to start, and our appetizers and entrees came all at once. Therefore there was a need for us to rush through it all to ensure our steak was still warm when we got to it.

Each of our appetizers came in threes. Knowing that we would be sharing, it would have been nice to have been given the option of adding another portion so that we each had two a piece. Instead we were forced to half a crab cake that fell apart and split a shrimp down the middle to be fair.

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“Baked Dungeness crab cakes” with sweet pea shoots and pineapple salsa. This was my favourite of the night. You could tell each cake was moulded with real flaky crab meat. Given with the amount of crab and the lack of fillers, a whole crab and then some probably went in to making these. The other ingredients mentioned either came on top or were laid on the bottom. The pea shoots gave the creamy crab some freshness and the pineapple a nice tangy zing. Though I felt it was still a little bland, but didn’t want to risk adding anything to take away from the lightness in the crab.

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“Grilled jumbo shrimp cocktail”. I don’t know how many I expected for $17 but I feel a little under $6 per shrimp is steep. Having said that these were delicious sweet shrimp. As some of the largest I have ever had, they earned their “jumbo” moniker. The iceberg lettuce was more for show and went unbeaten. The cocktail sauce I found no different from that which you can find prepackaged in jars. It had a nice sweet tomato flavour, like a toned down and more organic tasting ketchup.

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Their three options for steaks were all from the same place and were prepared the same way, you just got to choose your cuts. This was Spring Creek Ranch’s 40 day aged beef charbroiled. Raised with no antibiotics, no hormones, and no steroids. Each cow is only fed a wholesome diet of forages and rolled barley. And each prepared steak is served with market select potatoes and vegetables. We got the biggest and fattest of cuts, the “12oz. Ribeye steak”. Our options for sauces were between the traditional peppercorn, my preference the garlic butter, or a béarnaise. Our waitress strongly recommended the latter and that was what we got. We did so only to find it just tangy and buttery, believing we would have preferred the garlic butter instead. The plating felt random and the steak was not as tasty as I had hoped or would expect at $45 a plate. It was two cuts joined together by tendon. Though what made for a lack lustre presentation made for easy sharing. We had requested medium rare and instead got a medium if not well done slab. My guest didn’t want to trouble the staff, so refused to send it back. We were left chewing through dry ends and paying too much for it. The vegetables were flavoured in the same peppery sauce as the steak. Baby bok choy, baby bell peppers, zucchini, garlic cloves, turnips, and a potato cake.

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.
I am torn with this one. The service was inspiring, the theme well thought out, but for what was charged I did not feel the food lived up to the expectations and the evaluations. Though I was curious about their $3.50 a piece miniature desserts. It was a good way to have a taste of the seven small bites offered. For those who like live music especially jazz and blues this would be a good dinner-ing spot for you. To enjoy good music with a glass of wine in hand. Just be warned there may be those like me who only come in to eat and to drink, that may serve as a distraction. And for those here for classic cuisine in a quiet setting, they have recently added a porch out front. It offers the same experience as indoor, only steps from English Bay. Don’t deny your cravings.

SEVENTEEN89
1789 Comox Street, Vancouver BC, V6G2M5
604-428-0705
1789.ca
Seventeen89 Restaurant + Lounge on Urbanspoon

Gino’s

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Looking for a quick dinner in New Westminster we came to Gino’s on an recommendation when in the area. Sunday night proved to be slow. The streets were empty and the restaurant only sat three tables, majority of which were outside on the covered patio out front. We were table number four.

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Not much to describe. The restaurant proudly displayed its age, established in 1972 and the wear of the room echoed that truth. Though nothing their fresh coats of paints and well maintain seats couldn’t have you over looking. Inside, black tables and brown booths lined the hardwood floor. On the white walls separated by brown trim hug black and white photographs and pictures painted in colour.

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We went in and approached the hostess booth upfront only to request for a seat outdoors. The patio was separated from the side walk by a wall at mid height. It allowed you to be seen and to see, pedestrians strolling by on their evening walks. The roof shielded you from the elements and the heat lamps would keep you warm should you need it. The brick fireplace towards the back was more for show, its mouth filled with greenery, as other plant life sat on its mantle and made their home all around. Similarly was the television perched above. Switched on but left unfollowed with a portion of its led screen left stained or damage.

Each white table was set modestly with an unlit tea light in a cylindrical votive and a caddy of salt and pepper packets. Right when you opened the menu a coloured invitation to celebrate your party at Gino’s popped up. It suggested they were the place to go to from birthdays of all ages to retirements and goodbyes; even the destination for graduations and christenings. Though their daily food and drink specials available all days of the week hoped to bring you in sooner. Highlighted on the menu and flagged on the awning as its own banner. They were definitely giving you multiple reasons to come back. Pasta Tuesdays had all their pasta dishes for $7.75 and Thursday Greek nights gave you a choice of any entree for $10.95, regularly $15.95-16.95.

Though despite all their tempting, tonight they were sadly out of the Sunday roast special. I would have been able to choose between roast beef, chicken, or lamb with all the trimmings. Considering the slower traffic I was surprised they were out by 8pm. Our waitress referred me to the roast lamb entree instead. Just as well, it is what I always get and what I wanted now.

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Our sides of garlic bread and pita came first. Served together in a bread basket with a shaker of chilli flakes and powdered Parmesan. I would have preferred it with our actual meal as apposed to before it. I wanted the pita with tzatziki and my guest wanted his garlic bread dipped into tomato sauce.

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The “roast lamb” was a shoulder cut marinated with Greek spices, and served with lemon oregano roast potatoes, rice, Greek salad, tzatziki and pita bread. By look and taste this was pretty standard. It has everything that I expected else where, with all the usual accompaniments. Mid way through I did notice the oil slick that sat at the bottom of my plate. The rice clumped saturated in grease and I tasted it. Overall it was good, but nothing had it standing out over its competitors. The portion was not even as large as those of other places. You got a nugget of a potato served whole, instead of two halves of a larger spud, despite the menu suggesting that you would get “potatoes”. The salad was not enough to be called a side portion though to my delight it was served room temperature and coated generally in feta. Though at $15.95 this was one of the least expensive priced lamb entrees. I guess you get less for paying $2 less.

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A large “baked lasagna” in a meat sauce. It wasn’t short on melted mozzarella cheese evident by the pool of grease that slicked its surface. Digging in this was more a bowl of noodles than that of layered pasta, it looked like a pizza after all. The lasagna was present, but it held nothing between its noodles, no spinach no ricotta, not even the meat. Despite the plethora of sauce the dish was bland, almost plain; it need more seasoning, some kick to it. I wasn’t even able to spot any herbs in the sea of red. Its watery texture had us scooping out any excess. Although this was just ground beef, pasta, mozzarella, and tomato sauce.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
My experience and food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I wouldn’t make a trip out for generic Greek and bad Italian. Not so much a destination, but more there if you need it. Though for the community with no other restaurant like it around I could see its popularity, and possibly an explanation of its long standing success. Don’t deny your cravings.

GINO’S
431 E Columbia Street, New Westminster BC, V3L 3X4
604-525-1071
ginosrestaurant.ca
Gino's on Urbanspoon

Joeys Burnaby

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Looking for the ambience and vibe of a downtown restaurant in the comfort of my surrounding area of Burnaby, we found ourselves at Joey’s on Rosser. Here we had the ability to drink as much as we liked without having to pay the taxi over $40 in fare.

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The restaurant replaces its “Shark’s Club” predecessor. A good start with dinner and the ability to take the party else where with a late night open liquor store on ground level. The area is a soon to be booming neighbourhood with high rises springing up. Entry is either through the mall, the underground parking, or via the Lougheed facing entrance.

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Without a reservation this Saturday night a minimal wait was required. Though the walk through the half empty dining room lead me to think differently. The restaurant was modernly done with a clean woodsy feel. A smoothed over stump stood as a featured piece in the lobby. Carved busts of horned animals lined the hall-ed entry: moose, deer, elk. And ironed stemmed chandeliers cupping bulbs at its end supplied the light.

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We were seated in the lounge, a walk pass the spacious multi booth dining room, the wall of wine bottles, and the kitchen spanning half the walk taken. The lounge was littered with high top tables and higher stools at the bar. Booths that required a step up and chairs that needed a climb on to. The wide windows gave a clear view of the parallel skytrain tracks, in between a set of tripled up television screens. Not much of a view, not that anyone drinking was seen admiring it.

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We started with a bottle of wine. Not being able to decide between two we were offered the ability to taste both and decide from there. The tasters and the bottled wine were served in Joey branded engraved wine glasses. Their trademark “J” that double as the curvature of a wine goblet. I was impressed by this little personalized touch, a monogram of sorts that extended to their napkins. Our friendly server was quick to boast that they taste over 600 wines a year blind to update their menu. The list that was categorized and described by its taste. Our choices were between the “Louis Martini”, a Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, from California. The menu described it best at, “Wonderfully fresh, a quintessential cab from an old school producer still doing it right”. And the “McWilliams”, a Cabernet Sauvignon, from Australia. This was described as, a “Great value with black berry characters and light toast”. We choose the later based on taste and was happy to have it be the less inexpensive of the two.

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“Steak & Sushi”, Japanese surf & turf tataki style. Made with CAB® PRIME steak in a Ponzu sauce, served with a rainbow sushi roll. Immediately I was disappointed by the portion compared to the price. Just looking at it I knew there would not be enough food. The heat from the cast iron pan kept cooking the meat, by the time I got to the pre cut ends, my last bites of what should be medium rare were well done. A thick chew that left my mouth dry.

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The sushi was good, the fish fresh, the rice soft, and the dressing a creamy delight. But it along with the steak left me hungry for more. Luckily my guest was unable to finish her portion and I was able to step in to clean her plate. What was I thinking ordering sushi from a casual chain? Craving or not.

 

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“Steak & Prawns”, grilled butterflied prawns with a “CAB® PRIME” sirloin. Both of the feature proteins on this plate was a let down, average at best. On the drier side with hardly any notes that stands out. The asparagus and better yet the mashed potatoes wrapped in deep fried spring roll pastry was the true star. What a unique take on a classic and definitely a signature all their own.

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.
I don’t normally visit chain restaurants. With so much to offer in this city, why waste a meal spent eating what you know, when you can try something new? Though sometimes you want a guaranteed dinner. That place where you know the food would be solid and the setting would be nice. This was that place for us tonight. A safe bet that proved us right. Don’t deny your cravings.

JOEY’S
1899 Rosser Ave S, Burnaby BC, V5C6R5
604-564-563
joeyrestaurants.com
Joey Burnaby on Urbanspoon

Joe Forte’s Seafood & Chop House

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A downtown staple with a rich history and its own ornamental taxi cab parked out from. This three dimensional billboard in yellow told you to eat at “Joe Fortes”, with letters stencilled on its sides and a custom “forte” license plate.

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It never dawned on me why after all my years living in Vancouver I have yet to set foot inside. So when my guest chose this as our girl’s night out I was eager to see what the buzz was about. And given the reputation and the glowing reviews from other food bloggers, I was expecting to be wowed. I was expecting great service coupled with better food. Though instead I was disappointed with the night’s service right at the door. Not something I would not expect from a finer dining establishment. I have been to a few others deemed high end, and at each have been assisted opening the often heavy front door. Not that I expect the service and believe that all doors should be opened for me; but on a day where I am balancing bags on each arm and struggling to lift hand to handle, the additional help would have been appreciated. This was especially the case looking past the glass and meeting eyes with the four members of staff looking right back. They stood in pairs on either side of the entry isle, with arms grasped in front, unmoving. At least they were willing to pause their conversation and show an eagerness to greet me when I finally managed to get in. I had to free my hands by putting bags on the ground, keep the door propped open with my hip, and regather my possessions with an awkward struggle.

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Three hostesses in black dresses and a valet in windbreaker. I directed all attention to the hostess behind the booth. Luckily my guest made reservations, this was the hub of Robson on a Saturday night. The place was alive with noise and stirring with movement. A great sophisticated setting for a fancy cocktail and some light conversation. Getting in early and having our table still in use from the party before, I was given an electronic buzzer and took a seat at the bar. After me bodies flowed in, chairs got taken and others were left waiting in the foyer. I saw even more walking out after hearing the wait time to dine. Given the cramped quarters I wish there was the offer or possibility of a coat check. I had enough I needed to carry let alone my purse and jacket. And the room could have used the breathing space that they took up.

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After a walk through the atrium and past another set of doors, you are greeted by the three storey dining area. I was in immediate awe. If not for the column framed with awards and achievements, but by the sheer spectacle of the place. The live lobster tank beside the column was pretty eye catching as well.

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The air changed, the lighting shifted, and the sounds of life filled the arena. Three layers of laugher, food, and fun; with a live pianist playing. His beat kept the room light, it added context to sound and broke up the noise of chatter. The piano stood enroute to the washrooms, a claimed space on the actual spiralling staircase. It and its performer played between the second and third floors; on one of two staircases of brass, banister, and carpet. I imagine what would be an awkward walk pass when a musician is performing. When his set was done a song of clashing plates, clinking glasses, low humming voices, and cackling laughs began. It filled the entire room in an overpowering force. Made even more obvious with lack of overhead music, or music at so low level it went unnoticed. It hampered the night and made conversing on either ends of a table difficult. Chairs tucked in, bodies leaned forward, and ears to mouth. I don’t particularly enjoy dining in loud settings. Especially if the fare is at a price worthy of entitled expectations. This was the case tonight, multiplied by three, for each of the there floors.

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The entire open space of the restaurant was made tight with large bulky fixtures and an onslaught of stuff. Vaulted ceilings, thick load bearing columns, spinning ceiling fans, polished mirrors, golden bulb-ed chandeliers, large oil canvases, framed vintage posters, and mahogany on everything. It was an assault on the senses. Yet it all retained a certain level of cohesiveness, the feeling of a similar time and parallel warmth.

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My night started in the bar. A cramped seat around a U shaped stage, with additional narrow ledges and seats a few feet away. Here three bartenders were on constant mix. Dress in white button ups under their tailored black vests. They poured for the bar and supplied libations non stop for those parties at tables as well. With no coat check or offer to take mine, a bar hook under would have helped. A way to tuck bags and jackets away and off the floor, and to free oneself for a more comfortable stay. Instead my belongs became a pile by my high stool, steps away from where rushed servers came for drinks with wet trays.

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Closer to our reserved time of 8pm one server forced a bill fold my way. She demanded I pay before sitting. Her abrupt nature and immediate departure left me without a chance to ask questions. Luckily our buzzer lit up and it vibrated to acknowledge the readiness of our table, freed. When the hostess came I was able to have the drink ordered added to the table and save myself the hassle of purchasing twice. The buzzer system itself felt unorganized. How do they know where you are? Do you come? Do they go? After we got our bearings straight and got up to go, other couples that stood by lingering pounced on the now freed seats.

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Moving to our actual dining table became a obstacle course. With already full hands, we now needed to bring our own drinks and napkins to our newly designated seats. Once again, not that I expect such treatment in my everyday life, but I feel this is one of those services I pay more to get and tip more when experienced. No help with parcels, it was too crowded, too loud, and too much. Staff seemed frazzled and it came across as them being rude. At the prices I was willing to pay, I was not impressed long before I looked to order.

The front of house staff were an assortment of bodies in different dress to establish rank. Those in white coats were head servers, they took orders, and communicated with both the kitchen and their patrons. A few were designated to sections to stand at ready, so should anyone require assistance. This meant help with out hesitation, from the shadow looking over your shoulder. Others wore white shirts and solid ties and others still blue button ups and a patterned tie. The amount of servers guaranteed no glass went empty and no wait for help was more than five minutes. You can stop anyone to ask for anything and not be faced with, “I’ll go find your server”. Although at one point by the bar, I did feel that there were one too many members on staff. Crowds grew, gathering hands out reached, waiting for their table’s order to come to pass. Overall each member on payroll was relatively lively. One particular in blue shirted clearly enjoyed his job. He beamed with pride mentioning last week they saw Harrison Ford visiting twice. I liked his natural conversation and enthusiastic smile. He loved his position and being here, and it showed.

Interestingly, for a fine dining establishment, I was surprised that the table was laid with a sheet of white parchment over table cloth. Was its purposely for an easy clean up on a busy day? A place for small bones and bulky shells to sit on once nibbled clean?

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The menu was a tall list of fresh seafood. Shucked oysters served at their own oyster bar; appetizers separated by hot and cold; soup and salads; classics like fish and chips, halibut cheeks, and seafood linguine; and steaks and chops rounded off the protein. Along with this offering was the menu of the day. A professionally made, colour copied insert, dated to convey its timeliness. On it was a detailed list of the catch of the day. Freshly caught fish and crab, and lobster from the tank out front. Though on order to get the most out of our meal we decided to go for what they were well known for and that which they serve regularly: steak and seafood, as their subtitle suggested.

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“Joe’s Signature Caesar”, absolute vodka, Clamato juice, Sambal Oelek, fresh horse radish, and a jumbo prawn. Waiting by the bar, hungry, but don’t wanting to be too tipsy; this was the best choice. I ate the prawn and the hearty juice staved off additional pangs of hunger.

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Complimentary warm bread with lobster oil and balsamic vinegar. The lobster oil featured was the same bottles they packaged themselves and advertised for take home-ability on the menu. The bread was gently warmed, spongy in the middle with a crisp crust. The flavour of the oil and vinegar had me going back for more. With each revisit I sought to sop up more and more of the oils, using bread as sponge. The taste was hard to describe, a savoury and garlicky bite.

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“Peppercorn ahi tuna”. Grilled rare and served in a brandied peppercorn sauce, with potato rosti and market vegetables. The fish didn’t look like much upon delivery. Though with a self made incision I got that trademark ahi tuna red flesh. I wished they had sliced into the portion before hand to give that wow factor in presentation. Based on the picture alone I would guess this to be just pan cooked tuna. Tender and light, they allowed the fish to speak for itself. A mild flavour that eventually needed dips in peppercorn to rejuvenate its taste. The hash browns out shined the fish. These were the best has browns I have had to date. I could have eaten an entree sized potion of just them. No need for cheese or ketchup, well seasoned and refined as they go. I don’t like my asparagus in such large stalks. I find the flesh tough and the fibre chewy, more trees than vegetable. The carrots were undercooked. Hard roots that required a firm bite or rigorous saw through to half.

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“Bone in rib steak”, 18oz, medium rare. My guest was looking for the “fattiest” cut, and this came as the recommendation of our server. At 18oz. this was the largest cut offered and the most costly at over $55. With fatty edges and hidden nerves it gave the cut its well marbled look. The flavour was fine, the meat itself a little chewy. Given the price I expected a melt in your mouth succulent slab of meat. I have had better for less and therefore was disappointed here. The included side was bacon and horseradish mashed potatoes and market vegetable. With my guest’s dietary restrictions, our plan to share, we got our potato sans the bacon. Whipped smooth, and always the perfect pairing to red meat. We were ambitious and failed to finish a third of the steak.

Working in the service industry I appreciated the fact that our server offered us dessert menus without a beat missed. He assumed we would want something sweet or at least browse through the selections. The truth is after all that meat and vegetables we were ready to take our leftovers to go. The remainder of our meal was packaged in a box and sealed with their own branded sticker. I carried it out in a custom “Joe Forte” paper bag, made for such an occasion.

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The washroom requires a bit of a trek to the third floor, but the climb on the suspended staircase gives you a wonderful overview of the place. I took the opportunity to take some real great pictures of the layout.

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? – Yes.
As one of Vancouver’s most iconic restaurants this is a must try. If not at least once when you are living in the city, then at minimum when you travel from out of town. As my first visit, I came in expecting great things. With high expectations I expected all that a fine dining establishment is known to offer: a decant setting, courteous and attentive staff, and food as delicious as it is visually satisfying. So given my actual experience and the buzz surrounding the place I was somewhat let down. Maybe it’s my mistake for expecting this much on a busy Saturday evening. Though for a $125 plus bill I should not leave wanting more. I found the service rushed, the speed in which the staff ran had them coming across as being uninventive and rude. The atmosphere was loud and chaotic, requiring over the table leaning and aggressive shouting to be heard. I didn’t feel the food was worth its absorbent price tag; I have had better else where on all counts of taste, presentation, and cost. My guests insists she has been thoroughly impressed during their lunch services, with a lighter menu to match. I may one day decide to give that a try. But for a dinner of seafood and/or steak, I have other options I rather entertain first. Don’t deny your cravings.

JOE FORTE’S
777 Thurlow Street, Vancouver BC, V6E3V5
604-669-1940
joefortes.ca
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Urbanspoon

Black & Blue

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I have been here on several occasions and have already deemed this to be my favourite steakhouses. So when wanting a little meaty decadence, we made this our first go to. Today we were given a seat on the middle floor, and a tour around the restaurant to get there. This we found the perfect spot as we have already dined on their roof and tried things down on the bottom floor. Our table was against the railing and we were given an exciting view of the patrons dining below. Here perched high above we people watched and discussed who was eating what. We were also given a squinted look down at the bar. A green back light island, worked on at all sides by a team of black dressed bartenders. There was need to travel 360 degrees around, as the seats were filled with women sipping and men approaching them to strike up conversation. Down below I could also make out my favourite decor piece: their meat locker. A orange lighted walk-in fridge hung with fresh cuts of meat, while others laid in display, and all were ready for ordering. Quite the sight, I wouldn’t be surprised that if you assembled all that meat there you would get three to four full cows.

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Above them and us was scene decorated with lights. A collection of multi sided orbs, strung together to create a mass of lighting and visual interest. To our other side, all along the narrow walk way there were refrigerators build into the walls. This I thought was a clever way to maximize space and store chilled bottles of wine until needed. A similar design was seen in the walls of rooms on the same floor. There, private rooms for larger parties had glass barriers that created distance and offered a unique way to display all the bottles of wine they must go through.

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The setting was contemporary classic. They offered a way for your to have your steak in a setting worthy of the top dollar price they charge for it. For the every day worker this place is crafted around making you feel like a big shot. Gracious all accommodating staff, cozy deep sunken in seats, and embellishments that give you that rich feeling without coming off as being too ostentatious. And for their daily diner this is that steakhouse that churns out great dinners, consistently night after night, and offers it to you perfectly paired with the best bottles of wine. All in an upbeat setting with pop and dance music familiar to a more mature crowd.

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We started off with a side of “onion rings” as our appetizer. It was served with a spicy mayo. Having had them during our last visit we were disappointed in them today. They were not as expected, being different than before. The batter was lighter, it wasn’t seasoned the same with a lack of herbs breaded in to the actual batter. Too salty over all, yet without adequate spices, they needed a deep in the side dish of mayo. I found the doily used as decoration in the centre of the skillet out of place. A cute accent, but one that did not belong on a hard cast iron vessel. We ate our rings quick knowing they are best hot and crisp out of the deep fryer.

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Before our steaks arrived we were presented with a selection of sauces to accompany them. A traditional house made BBQ sauce. And atomic horse radish with just a touch of pickled spice. And Chimichurri that tasted as tangy and as fresh as it looked. Each condiment was well made, though they were mostly left untouched. Our steaks were so well seasoned that any addition to them would take away from it natural beefy flavours.

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My guest got the “PEI blue ribbon beef tenderloin”. $44 for 10oz. With almost no fat marbled in, this is his favourite cut of beef, the same thing he gets during each visits. He insists that he can taste the quality in a portion that offers hardly any fat. As a small stump on a large plate it didn’t look like much, but once we cut in we noticed that perfectly cooked medium rare beef pink. The beautiful and edible decorations of leaves and carrot slices were a nice elevation on the plate. Though it only ended up as scraps left aside, as to not waste stomach room for the steak below it. The meat is succulent it almost melts in your mouth. The edges were evenly seasoned and they offer the best bites. The only down side is, although you are paying for quality, at its largest portion it still leaves you wanting more.

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Sides come separately with this cut so we ordered their “loaded baked potato”. A common steak side made with bacon, white cheddar, and sour cream. The skin is always my favourite part, as it is baked until a chewy crisp. A texture not for everyone, but one I enjoy hacking through. Once baked until soft, the potato flesh is scooped out, mashed up, and mixed together with other ingredients. It then all gets filled back into the potato skin to be topped with cheese and baked until hot and melty. Having it double baked gives the bacon a chance to caramelize and the cream to cook the potato further. The resulting texture is a whipped potato with a little mash left in for texture. As good as this was, I realize it is hard to mess up the merger of winning ingredients like potatoes, bacon and cheese. With this version, my only complaint is that I missed the dressing of the potato at your table. An added service that you get at other steak houses.

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Wanting more bang for my buck and more meat for my belly, I indulged on the “Prime rib”. Opting for the 16oz at $39, instead of the 10oz for $32. The price was well worth the size and the sides that it came with. Two Yorkshire puddings, a heaping of mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables in a red wine jus. I always forget that Yorkshire pudding resembles more bread and buns in look and more cake and sweets in taste. With a custard like taste and an equally soft centre to match, they were great light reprieves in an other wise very heavy dish. The vegetables included a few colours of carrots: orange, yellow, red and purple. Each boiled to a tender snap and seasoned in an earthy sauce. The slab of meat was a lot more fattier and left a lot more rare then I had anticipated. I always ask for medium rare, and despite the stick pricking the top indicating that it was, I felt it bled more like rare. I ended up packing up more than 70% of this plate to go. I didn’t want to be a burden my asking them to cook it a little longer. Plus once off the heat and on to the plate you can never get the steak the same. This later became dinner for two the following night. After I tediously sawed off all the cuts of fat of course. I usually like a little fat in my meat, but this was too much. I bite down into a glob of fat, and the texture my tongue met with was something it had to spit out.

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Had the luck of being able to watch the show at the table in front of ours. They ordered the “Crepes Suzette” and was treated to a table side show to their left. The isle was blocked off by a cart that not only held all the ingredients needed, but offered a heat source to cook the dough on. Luckily the process was fast enough that no one needed to get through as the flames were rising. Quite a visual, certainly worth its steeper $12 price tag for the show and the alcohol used as its accelerant.

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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? – Yes.
As I have stated in previous posts, I will definitely be back. In terms of the whole package this is currently my favourite steak house. They offer all that I would want, and all that I have grown to expect from a steak house. In a settling befitting of what I had to pay. The service is top notice and the staff know their menu inside and out. I always walk away feeling full and satisfied that got what I paid for. And although the place gets busy, with multiple floors and a legion of staff working, waiting for a table is limited and reservations are always welcome. With this same full roster of bodies walking around you are never left waiting too long for help or have your request for attention met. Someone somewhere can help you or certainly grab your server to. All my requirements of service, food, and setting at a steakhouse are met here. Don’t deny your cravings.

BLACK & BLUE
1032 Alberni Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 2V6
604-637-0777
glowbalgroup.com/blackblue
Black + Blue on Urbanspoon

Hy’s Encore

Sister restaurant to “Gotham’s”, the city’s oldest steak house, and voted the number one place for steak by Vancouver magazine”. All that makes “Hy’s” worth visiting, as the perfect destination for a fancy girl’s night out. You would hardly notice the entrance of this upscale dining establishment. A heavy door against a stone building. Though the presence of the valet waiting by the curb helped. He helped with the opening of our car’s door, then followed through by leading my guest and I indoors.

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We were early for our 9pm reservations, the only time we could get a table reserved on a Saturday night. We went in at 8pm hoping to be able to enjoy a drink or two in their lounge. Waking in we were greeted by the hostess who took our coats in exchange for a numbered ticket. We choose a seat from one of the four empty double recliner tables. Both the table and the chairs were equally low. The kind of seating you could imagine lounging in while you nurse a strong drink on the rocks. It was a 10 minute wait before the bartender finally approached us with coasters and a query for drinks. The coasters were embroidered napkins, marked with a lower case “h” in cursive at the corner.

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Wanting to order a bottle we requested the wine menu. It came as a page from their website pulled up on their in house tablet. In the end we took the sommelier’s recommendation on a blended wine. We asked for a bottle with a $70 cap, and after a wait and a peak into the heavily stocked wine cabinets behind us he presented us with the perfect bottle for $45.

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The “Wente” Sandstone merlot 2010 was suggested as our perfect pairing with our red meat. With flavous of blackberry, cherry, plum, and hints of roasted oak. My guest was given a taste before he settled the cork on the table and pour us each a glass. Merlots are usually muskier and dirtier tasting. This however was palatable. The sommelier did a good job choosing. When we ordered another bottle, I was disappointed to not have our current greasy and used glasses changed out to match the freshness of the new bottle.

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When the time came and our table was ready, we were lead through a brick walled tunnel into their dining room and wine cellar. Here we were seated at a very private booth, just before the ramp that lead down to the entrance of a very smokey kitchen. The booth came with red pleather seats, and a heavy table dressed in a white cloths. The chairs were upholstered in red velvet. With the head seat marked with their trademark “h” on its back. Looking around the decor wasn’t flashy, a set up that made you feel regal, with staff that left you feeling pampered. Patterned carpet and oil canvas paintings. We guessed the portraits were of presidents or at least members of parliament. The touches of Christmas came in garlands, strung up lights, and red and yellow babbles. This place gave off an old school traditional feel. Cigars and whiskey. Truly reminiscent of the oldest steak house in Vancouver.

The head servers were dressed in white coats and black ties with matching aprons. The runners wore the more simpler, white dress shirts. They looked like doctors, with their lab coats embroidered with the restaurant’s logo on its back. They were hired for their ability to provide their patrons with exceptional service. And you certainly felt it through their patience and calm speech. We stayed until we were the second last table remaining. And not once were we told to of an impending closing time.

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We were given complimentary garlic toast to start off our meal. Though in reality it came after our crab appetizer did. My guest didn’t know how she felt about the use of tin foil at a fine dining establishment. I agreed that the presentation could have been a lot more dressed up. It was delicious, but take a bite, and oil dripped out the sides of your lips. Though it is hard to beat the indulgence of warm and soft bread coated in melted butter.

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“Dungeness crab cakes” with house made coleslaw. At $18.95 I was a little taken a back that it was just one cake. Though in hindsight we should have clued in when we ordered the “crab cakes” and our server corrected it to “cake”. It was definitely delicious enough. You could tell this was made only with real crab and an assortment of fresh ingredients. Within bites we make out larger pieces of crab. The process of making this was probable hand cut, hand peeled, and home made. Though as good as it tasted we still wanted to have two per order. At $10 each, we would have seen more value in the order. I also expected more than its simple presentation provided.

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The “Prawn cocktail” came with a house made cocktail sauce. At $17.95 this too left us feeling like things were a little lacking. I appreciated their larger than usual size and their shelled and chilled nature. The prawns had a sweetness complimented by the tartness of the tomato based cocktail sauce.

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We shared their “Bone-in rib steak” at 16oz for $47.95. And as we had at “Gotham’s”. we requested the English cut. English cut is when they cut your steak up into manageable pieces. Each strip was cut with the grain, exposing the perfectly pink medium rare centre. We enjoyed the marbling of the meat and the tenderness that the fat brought out.We deemed our steak as good as the one we had at sister restaurant, “Gotham’s”.

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Each steak came with your choice of potatoes, done one of four ways. Neither of which is mentioned on the menu, so we were delighted to be given the option by our server. We selected the twice baked potato, rather than the once baked, panfried or French fried. Our potato came on the plate with the steak. It was boiled, scooped out of its skin, mashed and whipped with butter, then scooped back into its casing before it is baked golden in the oven. Our twice baked potato was dressed at our table, right in front of us. Here we were able to pick and choose what we wanted our side topped with and with how much. Though our server was already generous with the butter, sour cream, green onion, and bacon bits. If you are going to do it, do it big. I loaded this spud with all that I could.

After being disappointed with the dessert offerings we passed on some after dinner sweetness and opted for more wine. The desserts were the likes of cheese cake and chocolate cake. Nothing we couldn’t get elsewhere.

I always wonder why at places like these, with prices like these, would families bring their children here for dinner. I wonder how much their children appreciate this fine meal over a “McDonald’s” happy meal. At least at “McDonald’s” your food comes with a toy and a smile on its box.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – No.
The food was good, the were staff pleasant, and the decor was decent; but I felt the prices were steeper than expected or advertised. This was especially the case with the appetizers. We had a good time and wouldn’t mind coming back, but both my guest and I agreed that we had a more enjoyable dinner at “Gotham’s”. If you decide to visit hungry and dine until full, be sure to set aside the proper amount to accomplish this goal. Don’t deny your cravings.

HY’S ENCORE
637 Hornby Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 2G2
604-683-7671
hyssteakhouse.com
Hy's Encore on Urbanspoon

Gotham Steakhouse

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My guest tonight has never had a steak, and wanted to break her steak virginity with me. Originally she wanted to go to “The Keg”, but I thought, “Don’t you want your first time to be special?” So we made plans for a more unique venue. Unfortunately our first choice, and Vancouver magazine’s first choice as best steak house was closed due to renovations. So we found ourselves at “Gotham’s”. Definitely don’t make reservations if you don’t have the money. The buzz on this place is completely true. Be prepared to spend more for your finer dining.

Getting out of my cab I was impressed to have the car door opened and a valet’s hand presented to help guide me out. Approaching the tall doors they too helped to open it for me. I was already impressed with their service even before I walked in.

IMG_0894We were only able to get a reservation at 8pm so decoded to spend an hour with cocktails in the lounge. Though when I came in I couldn’t understand the impossibility of a 7pm reservation. The place was practically empty. With seating everywhere, in the dining room, the bar/lounge, and the out door patio with fireplace. The lights were gold. The dark furniture, black painted walls and brown and black patterned carpet aided in making the place darker. Your eyes had to adjust walking in. You definitely felt the presence of the place. I got the pick of the lounge for my waiting. I choose a high top with leather booth seats. The high top chair that companied this table was also upholstered in leather. Not long after I took my seat did the pianist come out to play his brand of lounge-y classics on the grand piano. He enjoyed a light cocktail as his fingers danced skillfully on the ivory keys. It really set the mood, jovial. He even played the theme song from “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” and “On Top of Old Smokey”, twice. Tables came just to watch him perform. Even our server made mention to how good he was. Through the course of the night he even allowed a guest to sing as he played. She sang the lyrics she read off her iPad. They seemed to be regulars, if not groupies.

My lounge seat gave me a view of everything. Their grand bar was three rows of premium liquors on mirrored shelves. All sandwiched between a television set and their restaurant’s crest. Two well dressed bartenders worked the bar in white shirts, ties, and fitted vests. The bar seated 12 comfortably, with plenty of elbow room to spare. The patio was still bright from the sun’s light. The stone fireplace created ambience and kept the patrons warm. The dining room had breath with vaulted ceilings, elegant drapes and enough room in between tables to truly feel intimate with your guests. The restaurant was huge. We only experienced the front half. But with a winding staircase that went upstairs for more rooms, and downstairs for the washrooms, this was an impressive building.

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I asked for water as I waited for my guest. The chilled glasses were placed on cloth coasters with a gold “g” neatly stitched in the corner. They were handsome and made to perfectly pair with the also stitched cloth napkins. There wasn’t much in terms if decoration, besides the wall wide oil paints; in rich hues depicting people done in 50’s styling. You really felt the opulence in their everyday furniture and accessories.

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We moved to our table in the dining room only to head back to the lounge. We preferred the upscale elegance of the darker lounge. The dining room and its guests made you feel like you were having a family style dinner. The tables looked more causal in white linens with a bronze lamp style tea light on each one. We wanted a dressier night and thought with dishes at $60 a plate we would get it in any room. What we wanted and how we were dressed matched the feel of lounge more. Like night and day, were the lounge and dining room. I felt awkward dressed in my gold stealth dress, sitting next to a family in their polos with toddlers on booster seats. And with the inconvenient table shuffling not one staff member made a response other than understanding and accommodation. They were courteous, well dressed, and well mannered. Everyone was inviting, you felt like nothing you said would be returned with a negative reaction. Every part of your experience was labelled as fine dining. I did however question the need for three hostesses. Majority of the time they stood shoulder to shoulder watching for any movement in the entrance door before them. They spent their time talking, as the place was dead past 6pm on Saturday night. Not really the place for cheap cocktails and to get drunk, too rich for most people’s blood.

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Wines came by the half glass, 6oz or 9oz. Options were listed on a leather bound menu 7 pages long; grouped by colour, region, then arranged by price. We had two bottles of red wine: J. Lohr “Seven Oaks” Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Paso Robles, Central Coast. Ordering a bottle I was sad to not have an ice bucket. Only to be told by my guest that red is enjoyed in room temperature. Note to self order white next time. But you should be having red with red meat.

The menu was a page of appetizers and steaks, with sides added on. We of course were going to order steak, planing on ordering the best cut at the most expensive price. I have been here in the past with groups and you can tell who wants to save when they order the roasted stuffed half chicken at $31.95, the cheapest protein on the menu. If you don’t want to order steak at a steakhouse, may I suggest not coming? And if you choose to dine at “Gotham’s” the expectation is you will be paying more for less better quality ingredients and its skillful preparation. The pricing also includes the ambience and the grade “A” service you receive in it.

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Complimentary eye bread. The crust was crispy, it left crumbs as we cut into each segment. The middle was soft and hot. And the butter just melted into it upon contact. We ended up picking out the middles and leaving the crusts, to not ruin our appetites.

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“Jumbo shrimp cocktail with a hot horseradish cocktail sauce”. These are the thickest and juicest shrimp I have had thus far. These four were equivalent to 8 else where, and needed to be eaten in 3 bites. The sauce was thick and sweet with a bit of heat.

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“Bone-in rib steak” was our server’s recommendation for the best steak, and the perfect choice for a first time steak eater. She passionately spoke about the cut’s tenderness and the perfect marbling in the flesh. How the fat melted during preparation and made each bite melt in your mouth goodness. There was an offer to have the 24 oz piece we were to share split and plated for two, but I wanted the steak a whole for pictures. Though we did take her suggestion of allowing the kitchen to cut it English style for the best experience. Each morsel would be sliced with the grain for the best bite each time. And of course when eating steak, you have to get it medium rare, steak is a waste other wise; and at $58 that is money I rather not spend on well done. For her first time, my guest commented how there is something so primal and visceral about eating steak; elevated in a regal way. Though it came with more fat than I would like to see on my steaks.

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Also as per our server’s suggestion we ordered the side “Baked Idaho potato”. The best out of a list of vegetables. The potato was a pound and came to our table undressed. It’s seasoning was done with our instructing the server. We indulged and went heavy on the butter, sour cream, and green onions. My guest didn’t take any bacon, but I got two large scoops of the pink bits on the side.

I was even impressed with the black take out containers places in a large brown paper bag.

Would I come back? – Yes, but based on price this can’t be an every day dinner. It is more my go to for a once every 6 months fancy dinner kind of meal. We stayed longer than we anticipated and drank more than planed. It is the same when you go shopping, you tend to purchase more when the staff pay more attention to you. We felt the need to order more and treat ourselves more with the indulgent service for our waitress. She made conversation and was witty with her jokes. A delight to have as part of our “Gotham’s” dining experience.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. For the same reason I would come back. Solid food backed up by excellent service. For a truly indulgent night, don’t deny your cravings.

 

GOTHAM’S STEAKHOUSE
615 Seymour St, Vancouver BC, V6B 3K3
604-605-8282
gothamsteakhouse.com
Gotham Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar on Urbanspoon

The Roof, Black + Blue’s third floor

Black and blue for take two~

A sunny day, a break in the clouds; and we took advantage by heading to “The Roof”, the city’s largest rooftop restaurant and lounge, by “Black and Blue”. I have already written about my experience at “Black and Blue”, click link here for that: http://vieamaggi.blogspot.ca/2013/03/steak-and-bj-day.html
But seeing as “The Roof” is a restaurant within a restaurant. I thought it would be useful to write up a separate blog post just for it. 


You take an elevator up and walk out of the darkness into sky light. The corridor leading on to this rooftop restaurant is a narrow passageway, it is guarded by the bust of a giant bronzed bull. Wall seats line the left, they are upholstered with a stripped zebra pattern and is accompanied by matching pillows. A row of glowing blocks plays a dual function as decor pieces and seats. You can switch the colours from orange, blue, yellow, green, etc. Not exactly comfortable but one hell of a spot light. They alos make for great extra seating, helping tables of two become three. There are no reservations made for a seating here, so the investment in a spacious and comfortable waiting room is appreciated. Around the corner is their dining room. A tight space half covered and half opened to the sky. To maximize space, some tables were set in places that made it awkward for the diner sitting and the staff trying to maneuver around them. On one such table we observed a man interrupt his conversation to tuck his elbows in, in order to avoid them getting caught by a server whizzing by. I personally would have waited for another table or just travel back downstairs to be reseated. Here, you pay top dollar for the food, with experience included; and such a table situation would ruin my night. We choose a table by the fire place. The glass and tile fireplaces spanned across both the west and east walls. It intimately lit each table with romantic dancing flames. It also kept half your face and body warm, the other side was left to whatever elements were out doors that day. The rest of the rooftop kept heat with the aid of traditional patio heat lamps. And large retractable umbrellas shielded you from the elements.
Plants in boxes lined the back of booths. They created a division between the seated diners and the causal lounge set up, in the center. This space is perfect for large groups wanting to snack and drink. 
“The Roof” has a completely different vibe from the rest of its levels. A loud casualness compared to the quiet extravagance of the bottom two floors. The music sets the tone with upbeat pop classics and dance tunes with a little bass. It attracts a more vibrant crowd in both speak and dress. More youthful adults assemble to cheers one another with cocktails, and laugh around well grilled food. Though I would add, that on this night a lovely group of seniors were here celebrating with sparkling wine and a cake with candles.
Although this is atop of a building in the middle of downtown Vancouver, don’t expect a view. You are surrounded by tall buildings and can only look up at them. You are here for the fresh air and the novelty of finer dining outdoors. As for the potential bird problem, a plastic owl stood guard. He is one of the ones you can get at any home centre, a more natural and decor friendly way to detour unwanted fowl.
As with everything else the wait staff here is more casual, and I would say funkier. Where as downstairs they wear ties and full length collared shirts, hair in buns, and dress pants. Upstairs the female servers wear a black criss cross halter dress, as their dress code; and use accessories to better express their individuality. Brightly coloured hair, visible tattoos, and limited piercing are ok. Men are in white shirts with rolled up sleeves and slacks. Our server came with sunglasses in case the sun’s glare got in his way. There were lots of staff for optimal service. The levels were distinguished by their wardrobe. The managers wore suits and had earpieces like undercover security guards. The servers were given ability to dress more laid back, one girl wore croc ballet style flats. And the remaining staff front of house were bus boys in all black, they helped to cleared tables and refill glasses. When busier, the kitchen also helped bring food out. Each plate was expected to leave the pass as soon as possible, hot and at its peak of deliciousness.

Here, there is no surprise that the menu is different too. It is being prepared in another kitchen and therefore needs to be adaptive for that. The menu is crafted to feature generous cuts of prime meats, skewered fish, and seafood and poultry cooked over wood coals in their grill.

The only steak option here was the “P.E.I. Blue Ribbon”. My guest got it in a 12 oz, done up medium rare. This steak has superior marbling as a result of longer grass feed times, and natural aging. The “Blue Ribbon” classification means it is the top percentile of Canada’s highest grade. As great as it was, we could not help but compare it to the steak we had previously at “Black+Blue”, downstairs. We had the tenderloin and were able to devour it all without trimming away any fat. Today we felt the quality of this steak was not at a similar caliber. But then again we got a 12oz for the same price as a 8oz downstairs. The meat came with the chosen choice of mashed potatoes and kale. The potatoes were fluffy and buttery, with chives mingled in for colour. And the kale was surprisingly good. I hate leafy greens, but with its crispier texture and unique saucing I was able to eat some and go back for more. I love it when a restaurant can make a vegetable that is good for you taste like it isn’t.

“Seafood Trio”, skewered and cooked in their wood fire grill. Half an Atlantic Lobster tail, 2 jumbo tiger prawns, and a large scallop; Served over a quinoa salad with red peppers, asparagus, pistachios, cherry tomatoes, almonds, chives, and zucchini. This was an amazingly light meal that filled me up. The lobster meat was limited but what I had was sweet and buttery. The scallop was the largest I have ever seen, and would have been considered 2-3 scallops else where. The prawns had that great grill mark on them, and its accompanying flavour by consequence. I did not feel guilty about eating any part of this meal, in fact if felt like this was a healthy choice and yet so ridiculously delicious.




“Pineapple Carpaccio”. Traditional carpaccio is used to described anything that is thinly sliced and raw, usually reserved for meat and seafood. In this case the term applied well to my dessert. Wanting to stay light after my refreshing dinner, I got fruit and sorbet. This dessert was made with rum syrup, mint leaves, puffed sugar, candied ginger (not listed on menu), and coconut sorbet. This assemble of ingredients had such an original taste, nothing I can compare it too, for better clarification. It had so many layers of flavours thanks to all the components, working together harmoniously. This quantity is definitely meant for sharing, unfortunately for me my guest didn’t like it. I enjoyed trying it and am happy for the experience, but it is not something I can imagine getting again. Not a guaranteed everyday win dessert. They also had the classics like creme Burlee and apple pie, if that is more your vibe. 


Through out our meal we never had to chase our server down. In fact managers came to ask how our meal was, and make sure we were enjoying ourselves. Though as soon as we needed the dessert menu we couldn’t get a hold of anyone. We got the attention of our server but he didn’t get to us until a good 7-10 minutes later. I don’t blame him, a busy night like Friday, at a popular restaurant, having to wait on two large groups that have been drinking all night. In fact one such group was especially rowdy and insisted on taking back a shot with one of the ear pieced, suit wearing managers. 


Would I got back? No, I didn’t like all the ruckus and noise. The space was too tight and you didn’t get the setting and service you want at the prices you pay. And like any outdoor patio they have earlier cut off times. It closes at 10pm. If you are planning on a longer night you will need to get up and move the party downstairs, how troublesome hen tipsy.

Would I recommend it? Yes. “The Roof” has a playful vibe, staffed with the right bodies to encourage your good time. I would recommend going for great seasonal cocktail and/or snacks off their bar menu, but save the full portion entrees for the comfort of indoors and downstairs. Plus with their great customer service model I am sure they would prepare you anything off “The Roof” top menu to be enjoyed at “Black+Blue”.
Don’t deny your cravings.

THE ROOF
1032 Alberni St, Vancouver BC
Third floor of Black+Blue
Tel: 604-637-0777
the-roof.ca

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Black & Blue, steakhouse

Steak and BJ Day ~

March 14th was Steak and blow job day. You are thinking does this actually exist? Well Frenchy saw this posting on Facebook and it was good enough to convince him that this was an event that we as a couple should celebrate. Apparently this day is meant to be the male equivalent of Valentines Day. Well I am easy, so I was sold. Any reason to have a fancy dinner and dress up is good for me. I knew where ever I took him, steaks had to be involved. The question was where boasted great steaks that was worthy of being eaten on such a prestigious day? We rolled the dice with “Black and Blue”.


“Black and Blue” is part of the Glowbal group and is housed beside its sister restaurant, “Coast”. It was a rainy night and I refused to allow Frenchy to pay the $12 for valet parking, so we had to find meter parking a block away. When we entered the threshold I was surprised that the hostesdid not help us with the heavy door. I mean if they do it at Catcus Club… Instead she stood still and very deadpan behind her desk. Not the friendliest first point of contact.
We were seated in individual loungers under an open ceiling that was railed and lined with tables of two. The bar was a center island and behind it stood this clear giant fridge. In it hung beautiful cuts of meat, some in bone and others marbled perfectly. We were hoping to be able to pick out our own cuts out of the fridge to be prepared for us. But in actuality it was more a decorative feature; and it was doing that wonderfully.

We started our night with a bottle of “Wildcard, Peter Lehmann” red wine, by the bottle. I have always heard you have to have red wine when eating red meat. I was a little surprised that they did not have complimentary bread served before your meal. But I guess food is always better when you are a little hungrier. You don’t want to ruin your appetite with bread as a filler. The menu listed numerous dishes we wanted to try, but in the end we both had beef tenderloin. My tenderloin was done up in a “surf and turf” and Frenchy had his as an 8oz steak with a side of onion rings and loaded baked potato.
I choose the “surf and surf” because it was made as a meal, I did not have to pick my own sides. There were carrots, baby bok choy, and radishes. The potato cake was the best, it was buttery and rich and felt like the fanciest hash browns I have ever had. They looked as good as they tasted too, with flecks of green onion showing through the crispy golden brown crust.
My disappointed came with only getting half a lobster tail alongside my tenderloin medallions. I wondered who got my other half? Frenchy defended this by saying I should not have ordered seafood at a steakhouse. But “surf and turf” is a common staple at any steak house and for $44 why can’t I expect a full tail? Well, what little I had of it was amazing. It didn’t need to be accompanied by butter, as the flavour was infused into every moist, sweet bite. 
We both had our steaks medium rare and each one was a perfect pink. You poked your fork into the centre and the meat would buckle. You could tell this was a high quality cut of meat and therefore would be soft with just the right amount of chewy. Each bite was exciting you did not get tired of the taste. We both concluded that this was the best steak we have ever had and worth every penny.
Our sides were delicious as well, but really nothing to boast about when compared to our tenderloin cuts. I am not
fan of onion rings, but I did try one, I loved the taste and crunch of the batter, but cannot get over the slimy onion texture. This one was not for me. The baked potato tasted as if it was whipped smooth and then had chunks of potato added in afterwards, this gave you a great chewy, mixed combination. It’s only flaw was that there was a little too much sour cream mixed into it. It should of been put on the side as an option, along with the horseradish, BBQ sauce and wasabi. All the above were interesting choices for condiments that were tasted, but not used with our potato.
In between our bites it was hard to have a conversation. Our chairs were regal, but hard to move in order to get close enough to be heard by one another. I also sunk into mine several times, even with the back and butt pillow. At the conclusion of our night we did end up moving them side by side.

We would absolutely go back and absolutely recommend it to others. If you have the money and like great food in moderate portions, all in a stunning setting that would make any one feel like a boss: this is your place. The attention to luxury in their decor is excellent; wine fridges on the wall, a stunning display of beautiful liquors beside you as you walk up stairs, and a central lighting piece that makes for a great conversation starter. To quote “Guru Cooking Inc.” (www.gurucooking.ca), “These are the only guys in the city that know what they are doing!”. He told me that they do a lot of research before they open’Black and Blue” and that the owner strives for exceptional customer service. The guru had a few great stories to share. Though I would disagree after my first visit.
Next time around we will sit on the upper floor looking down the balcony and order the $135, 60oz highly graded “Tomahawk” steak. “Using only USDA prime, the Double RR Ranch is the top producer in the Pacific Northwest. The cattle are hand- sorted and graded to the highest standard. Steaks are shipped to a limited number of chefs around the world making this one of the world’s most exclusive products. ” If you went in a group of 5 it would come out to $27 per head, 12oz steaks each. A 12oz steak is still a huge slab of meat, most people order 8oz and are satisfied.
In short please go here and enjoy yourself!
And as for the second part of the night I will only add this quote I remembered from somewhere and thought was accurate: “A blow job is work, they call it a “job” for a reason, it is not blow vacation”.


BLACK AND BLUE
1032 Alberni St, Vancouver BC
604-637-0777



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