This seems to be our special occasion destination. We were here on the actual day of my birth, at what we believed was a restaurant that would ensure we get that fancy, not for every day dining kind of vibe.
We made a reservation, though after 9pm on statutory holiday, none was really needed. So with options, we decided to dine at their otherwise busy roof top instead. Switching our original desire for a fine dining vibe at “Black & Blue” for a more happening one at “The Roof”.
You take the elevator up to “R” and walk out into a narrow corridor. It was lined with zebra printed cushions and pillows; and blocks that lit up in a neon pink, green, and purple. This gave those needing to wait on another night, a comfortable place to sit in. The shame glowing cubes were also used in the lounge area for some funky seating solutions. Waking in, you come head to head with a metal bull bust, before taking a sharp right into the dining area. The hostess booth is hidden behind a sharp left.
And behind it was the kitchen fully exposed. It shared a counter top with the bar to its left. It was functional, but my partner pointed out that it may not be the best thing to front the restaurant with. When you walk in, the first thing you see is a stack of clean dishes. It doesn’t really match the party vibe they have attempted to cultivate here. The music is bumping with lots of bass, the servers are dressed less conservatively, and everyone seemed to be yelling or laughing louder than normal.
We were directed to a two top right beside another couple. Given the lack of privacy that it would cause, we requested another two seater by the adjacent stretch of fire instead. An elongated fire place with flames roaring behind glass. This was a small request that seemed so complicated, as the hostess had to leave us standing in the isle, while she conferred with the head hostess. I use to work in the restaurant industry so know this conformation is for the section, not the actual table itself. Is the server in your new section able to accommodate a new table? Are you taking business and tips away from another server with this move? Would they get it back? Though as a regular patron, that may not be something you understand, or should you really have to concern yourself with. All you see is an empty table, and all you understand is them not wanting to give it to you. Eventually we were permitted to sit in the empty table, beside the other empty tables. And when the lights dimmed the roaring fire created a nice ambiance for us. Though the half of our faces closest to the flame did start to heat up and become uncomfortable.
In retrospect, I don’t know what the allure of a roof top patio brings? What is the draw when all you can see is dark skies and the tip tops of neighbouring buildings, taller that the one you are in?
Like the decor, service, and dress code; the menu here was far more casual than the one offered downstairs. A one pager of raw seafood, shareable snacks, salads and sandwiches, meat prepared on their wood fire grill, and the traditional steaks they have come to be known for.
We started off with the “Mac & Cheese sticks” served with a truffled cheese sauce on the side for dipping. These were more brick or block then stick; something my partner seemed disappointed about, as he has chosen this with the intention of it being unique and something that would make for a good photo. He knows me well. The dish came surprisingly fast for something that had to be deep fried to order. Your fork glided into the brick. A thin layer of crisp fried breading hiding luscious cheese coated noodles at its centre. The coating was like the topping on a pasta casserole, crushed potato chips or panko. But here, you get that crunch with your soften elbow macaroni in an easy to eat hand held. The mac and cheese itself was sharp with cheesy goodness, you technically didn’t need the additional cheesy sauce for flavour. But it did add a new flavour element when the original taste grew tired, after the second block. As to not spoil our appetites further we got the rest packed up to go. In doing so, our server mentioned heating it up in the oven, instead of the microwave to avoid it mashing down.
The above went particularly well with my Caesar as tomato and cheese are natural companions. This was a spicy Caesar with a coarse rim, topped with spicy sausage, green olive, and hot pepper.
“B+B fries” seasoned in salt and Rosemary, served with a side of spicy tomato aioli. Fancy fries.
To take advantage of their specialty, I went with the “Beef brochette skewers” cooked over their wood fire grill. Seasoned in Montreal steak spice, served along side a seasonal panzanella salad. A “panzanella salad” is a Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes that is most popular in the summer. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. This version included arugula, cherry tomatoes, home made herbed croutons, pitted black olives, crumbled feta, red onion, and a balsamic dressing. It was a happy surprise to take a bite into watermelon, it really made the salad stand out and even more summery. I like the croutons that tasted like mini cubes of crusty garlic bread, they soaked up the vinaigrette like a sponge. I found the whole olives too distracting too take in one whole bite. It over powered the other lightly dressed vegetables.
As for the beef it was cooked perfectly to the medium rare that I expected. It came served on the cast iron skewer that it was cooked with. A server would remove it with a clothed grip and a pronged fork, right before my eyes. The meat was charred at its edges and tender in the middle. The better of the two beef dishes ordered, sadly as the menu spoke so highly of the quality of steak below.
My partner had the 8oz beef tenderloin. Beef tenderloin served with potato salad, grainy mustard vinaigrette, and chimichurri on the side. It was listed as “Double R Ranch USDA Prime” beef. Hand sorted cattle graded to the highest standards. With only a limited number of steaks shipped around the world to certain chefs, it made them very exclusive. But I question exclusive enough for a $21 difference between my portion and his? Where by looks it seemed like the same amount of beef for both entrees. And worst, poor preparation felt us deeming his tenderloin definitely not worth its $47 requested price.
My partner too asked for his steak to be prepared medium rare. After a bite in, we found it more on the rare to purple side, a look and texture we were not comfortable consuming. After hailing our server she was quick to offer a remedy. She asked if we wanted a new one prepared, or were okay with having this one just cooked further. As I already had my plate and he didn’t want to wait any longer than necessary, we just had the steak put back on the grill. After her apology, one of the managers came to echo her sentiment. Finally, he was the one to deliver the patched up plate. It looked like everything, including the sides were re-plated, with presentation in mind. He ended up waiting by the table for us to inspect it, even shining a flashlight on the steak to ensure it was perfect this time. Sadly it wasn’t, it was still on the blue side, but my partner already felt bad about complaining once, and would not let me send it back a second time. And as I eluded to earlier, it didn’t come back the same. Sadly having it put back on the grill did diminish the quality of the steak. Sadly, we were charged in full for the double cooked steak that was suppose to be the creme de la creme of beef. Where normally $47 would be considered a reasonable price for a more carefully raised beef. Where as my brochette’s flavouring came from the grilling process, his came from the meat itself, with very little seasoning needed. That is, if it was none right.
After the care they took to apologize for our undercooked steak, it took a noticeably long time for them to acknowledge us at our meal’s end. It didn’t help that our dishes were bussed and packed up by a different employee. But by the time our server came to offer us desserts, we were full, bored, and ready to go. Though the intention was to request a birthday themed dessert with writing in chocolate and a candle to blow out. A point my partner made mention to several times this night. He even had them note it when the reservations were made. So was very disappointed when nothing came of it, especially considering the prestige of the restaurant. He expected better treatment and more fan fare, at least after he said it was my actual birth day, three times in person, to three different employees.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Sadly tonight’s dinner has altered my opinion of “The Roof” and “Black & Blue” by association. Sadly I don’t feel the need to return again, or at least anytime soon. We felt let down in consideration to our past visits. And ironically we were thinking of just going to “The Keg” for steak, but wanted the glitz of a Glowbal group establishment. But maybe all this was just because we were dining on the roof, as “Black & Blue” is the true fine dining restaurant. Or maybe we just expected too much? Don’t deny your cravings.