There has been much buzz surrounding Vancouver’s newest steakhouse. Located in the old home of Milestone Yaletown, “Elisa” has found itself well welcomed to the neighbourhood.
So when my girl friend was craving steak we decided to check out their offerings. They are a very chic and modern steakhouse, no fuss, just classic lines and a wine wall that travels. When we sat down our server gave us a run down of the menu, while pointing out stations around the restaurant. There is a raw bar where they whip up tartare, and shuck oysters. Their wood fire oven in the back is what gives their meat its char. And they even have a table where prosciutto is carved off the leg of a pig.
However we came in with a game plan, so knew what we wanted. We would start off with their “Elisa seafood tower” prepared with kusshi + irish point oysters, cured hamachi, cured golden eagle coho salmon, tuna tartare, shrimp cocktail, and whole nova scotia lobster. And it wasn’t cheap. At $159 I wanted a greater collection of seafood gathered on this towering monument of marble, cast iron, and ice. It was so heavy that the strongest one in the kitchen had to bring it out with two hands. Impressive to look at with the lobster crowning the tower, but there was a lot more ice showing through. As for practicality: it isn’t. It is hard to pick through when it is 5 feet taller than you, when seated. Great for show, but we were quick to eat through our plates, so that we could shuffle them down to our face level; and move the obstruction from the table that was blocking our view of one another.
Taste wise, everything was good, but nothing that had me pausing on it. Juicy oysters with a wonderful tangy vinaigrette and fresh horseradish.
Cold lobster that I dipped into the leftover butter from the bread below. It gave the sweet lobster meat some needed flavour. And there is plenty of it when you get a half of the crustacean for yourself, and half an exoskeleton to pick through.
The hamachi was tender and seasoned salty. The salmon standard, but the orange brought out some flavour in it. The jumbo shrimp was great, I wanted the four for myself, each heavily dipped in cream. And the tuna mix with avocado had me craving some chips, a base to scoop and round out bites with.
While we nibbled our way through this barrier we sipped on wine and cocktails. I focused on the latter, and have the following to show for it.
The “empress” is a $17 cocktail made with mount gay xo rum, turmeric honey, lemon, aquafaba, and arabica coffee bitters. The flavour reminded us of cola, with a coffee pop.
“Divine rabbits” is a savoury drink. The black pepper and foamy egg white topping had me chewing this cocktail. I didn’t taste the listed strawberry, but really wanted to for the sake of this drink. Mezcal, blanco tequila, campari, strawberry, citrus, egg white, and black pepper.
The “corpse reviver no. blue” was a punchier cocktail thanks to the abinthe rinse that coated the glass, and lucky me I didn’t get much of that flavour that I don’t actually like. Tanqueray london dry gin, blue curacao, carpano bianco, lemon, and absinthe. It was easy to drink and the soaked cherry, a nice note to end on.
The “dothraki for delicious” was as strong of a drink as I think the fiercest tribe in “Game of Thrones” would order. Made with tra kal patagonian spirit, white vermouth, green chartreuse, and chocolate bitters for $17. This is definitely one of those beverages that taste so strong that it makes you see double. This too had a liquorice-y finish. With the briny olive garnish helping to balance out the strong spirit.
I was secretly hoping that the “wax poetic” used the beeswax it listed as an ingredient for garnish as well. No such luck. Tanqueray no. ten gin, white vermouth, beeswax, and grapefruit for $17. This was a clean and sharp beverage, great for sipping on.
And for my last cocktail of the night I ended in something sweet. “don’t call me shirley!” Made with cachaca, dry curacao, lime, grapefruit, and carbonation for $16. It was a fizzy, a pretty drink with flirty bubbles for a great girly girl cocktail.
Now to rewind a bit, our meal actually began with bread. Slices of their Country loaf and sourdough served with a healthy amount of butter. I liked its flavour alright, but found it too hard and crusty. It was also very messy, with coarse crumbs falling everywhere on the white table cloth. These crumbs would later scatter across the table top, and in between courses our server swept them all off the table with a long metal scoop-tool.
After we made our way through the tower, my guest still wanted to eat. So we thought it best if we rounded out the night with a steak from the steakhouse, seeing as it as one of their staples.
We got her favourite cut, bone in, and sliced by the kitchen for our convenience. 20oz of “Blue dot, Prince Edward Island rib-eye”, that is potato and grass fed meat. It doesn’t come with any real sides, a small mix of stewed vegetables and one stalk of broccolini, so we ordered two of our choosing below. As for the steak, it was delicious. Well seasoned and grilled for a nice distribution of char. And fatty by the bone and at the ends. Deliciously worth the $69 price tag, when compared with other steakhouse prices and their quality of meat and preparation. For 10oz more to your steak you can add $26 to your cost.
For sides we ordered the “roasted potato”, but got their “fries – 3 times cooked” instead. Braised, blanched, and fried sticks of potato; served with a thick and creamy mayo and butter-like dip. It was so good that we didn’t bother to correct them, and kept the fries.
We also had a side of “onion rings”, which like the side above and all the other sides was $12 each. As for the onion rings, each was crispy, and fried heavily enough so that I couldn’t make out the thick slab of raw onion hidden at the core. A good thing. They were the best when dipped into the pool of buttermilk Ranch dressing served on the side.
We didn’t have room for dessert, so when it was time to settle up, it was nice that our bill came with a treat. Served with the billfold was a small dish with two pecan sable rounds. They were a nice sweet and cheesy cookie that made the price we had to pay next palatable.
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.
Not a destination for every day dining, but definitely a great option for those looking to celebrate in an opulent setting. With a menu that speaks to luxury, and an impressive spread that will cost you for the quality you get. Fine steak and seafood lovers rejoice, you have a new restaurant to add to your list. Don’t deny your cravings.
1109 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5P6