Tonight I was at “The Keg” in Granville Island, out of convenience. We were killing some time before our evening show, and the rain wasn’t letting up. Dining here meant that our walk was merely across the street to our eventual destination.
Our visit coincided with their new happy hour menu and seasonal cocktail launch; two things we took advantage of. New to this list was their teriyaki bites and pork dumplings, replacing calamari, nachos, and sliders. This was information I found out from our server, after she noticed me taking notes. We discussed the above a bit, and how I found the previous three food items to be more happy hour friendly, as nice snacks to pair with beer.
We started with one of each of their happy hour plates, and to it added two regular appetizers, as we were eating to replace a meal. As a whole, the happy hour meal felt the same. Similar seasonings and flavours found its way from dish to dish, from steak to cauliflower.
I was originally excited for the $8 teriyaki steak bites. Steak for $8 is a steal, and pre-cut for easy eating is just helpful. Unfortunately, each cube was dry and ashy. A sandy chew from over cooked meat, a fact you can tell just by pricking it with a fork. The excessive seasonings did well to hide some of the above. But overall, it was disappointing. Disappointing that they couldn’t do steak right, especially considering it is and what they should be known for.
The pork and kimchi dumplings were nice enough, not authentic but plenty tasty. A savoury meat filling encasing a nice chewy dough wrapper. The pickled vegetable on the side offered some tangy crunch and interest. But as I mentioned earlier, the saucy flavour was similar here as it was above, and therefore wore thin.
The “crispy fried cauliflower” was a generous serving, but it too felt the same. It came with two sauces, but both were sweet and salty when in reality you wanted a creamy dip like a ranch, tartare, and/or sour cream. The florets cooled fast, and you were left with a mound of vegetable that could do with a more crispy and consistent batter and fry.
As I mentioned earlier, to top off our happy hour plates above, we ordered two seafood based appetizers to follow.
The calamari was disappointing. More crunchy breading than chewy pieces of squid, it was over salted and didn’t taste fresh. In fact I liked the just-as-chunky breaded vegetables that came with it, more. This ate like something you would order at a bar, not what I expect from a higher end, casual chain restaurant, like “The Keg”. The food did not live up to its reputation.
The crab cake was much better, it ended up being the best thing we had that night. The cake was well seasoned and perfectly fried for a crisp even crust. It went well with the creamy burrata and the crisp steamed vegetables on the side. By comparison, this was a clean classic plate with no complaints.
We also drank throughout our meal, then lingered after the food was packed up, with a few more rounds.
The $5 happy hour Caesar and the $6 happy hour white. The Caesar was pretty standard, overly salty and overwhelmingly spicy. The white wine my guest didn’t like. It didn’t matter that it was on special, she preferred to pay full price to switch to mini bottles of prosecco afterwards.
Next, we both ordered the Thursday $5 drink special: their margaritas. I couldn’t even finish this, it was easily the saltiest anything I have ever had. And worst is, this assessment doesn’t even include the drink’s usual salted rim. I made mention of its undrinkable nature to our server, who took note of a 2/3 full glass returned to her and the half glass my guest too gave back. She accepted it blindly, not asking more details on how this was too salty. Here, there was no consideration and no offer to replace it or at least remove the cost of it from our bill. Disappointing from “The Keg”.
Next my guest had her first of two glasses of sparkling wine and I began tasting their new winter cocktails. The “Heart of gold” was recommended to us by our server. It was easy to drink with the sweetness of honey, a good cocktail for when you have a sore throat. Wiser’s Deluxe Rye, honey, lemon, and sage. I also really liked the sent of the fresh picked leaf before you came close to sip.
I didn’t have the room for their popular “billy miner pie” for dessert, so ordered the spiked coffee version of it instead. A shot of bailey’s and one of khalua in hot coffee, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. I didn’t enjoy it the same, although this was still tasty; even for a person, like myself, who isn’t too fond of coffee or chocolate.
The “Red moon Manhattan” smelled like cinnamon and orange peel, and drank like a winter sangria with boozy cherries. Mondavi bourbon barrel Cabernet, Lot No. 40 Rye, spices, and bitters.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Sadly I am not a fan of “The Keg “as a whole, there is one location that I like, the only one location where I once enjoyed my food, and would go back to. As for the others, I find the quality doesn’t deliver on their brand, nor the steaks worthy of your money. I would rather order seafood or a burger at this steak house, if I was urged to return. Don’t deny your cravings.