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Posts tagged ‘steak’

Meal Plan Box Review: Good Food

Website: https://www.makegoodfood.ca/en/pricing

This is the second meal kit I’ve decided to try.  This box was selected next, not only because I received a 50% off coupon in the mail, but of the meal boxes that a coworker and friend of mine had sent me (coupon codes for discounts wherein the person who recommends also gets a credit to their account), this one had the most appealing menu for the week in question.

Unlike Hello Fresh, GoodFood is a Canadian company headquartered in Montreal and founded in 2014.  If I forgot to mention in my review of Hello Fresh, they’re a German company.

Like Hello Fresh, GoodFood has three plan options: Easy Prep, Classic, and Family.  The Easy Prep Basket is, as its name denotes, meant for a dinner done quickly and is the most expensive, priced at $13.33/serving.  The Classic Basket can be purchased as vegetarian or regular and is priced at $11.33/serving and $12.33/serving respectively.  The Family Basket is the cheapest priced at $10.88/serving (based on unit price).  However, unlike the other two baskets that have the choice between 2-4 recipes and 2 or 4 servings, the family is 2-4 recipes for 4 servings, which makes it, easily the most expensive box.  We chose to go with the Classic Basket, four recipes and four servings, but with the discount, it brought it down to an affordable amount.

I liked that I could choose a weekend delivery date as opposed to with Hello Fresh, which only allowed for weekday deliveries.  This was convenient because, even though the food comes in an insulated box with ice packs, I would much rather be home to receive the delivery (and even though I said leave on front porch, I can at least check once in a while to see if it has been delivered, even if they do ring your doorbell, just to make sure it isn’t being stolen).

From the Classic Basket we ordered the Brazilian Chicken Stew with Toasted Coconut Rice, Fresh Spinach Rotolo, Pan-Seared Gnocchi with Crispy Bacon, Peas, Lacinto Kale & Mascarpone Sauce, and the Seared Steaks with Lemon-Oregano Potatoes & Roasted Zucchinis.  Our plan was to space out the pasta, do the gnocchi on the first day and the rotolo on the last, but as you will find out later in this review, that’s not exactly how it happened.

When I unboxed the ingredients, I was really happy to find that they had fresh gnocchi, but the clumping had me concerned that I wouldn’t be able to separate the individual gnocchi…how right I was going to be. We did start with the gnocchi on the first day and it took me 45 minutes to prep all the ingredients.  It didn’t help that I had cut myself pretty badly a couple days prior (cut my index and middle fingers on my left hand and the bleeding wouldn’t stop for an hour).  This recipe really tested my patience.  Normally, I like to cook things that have quick chemical reactions.  So, I’m really terrible at waiting for fat to render or cooking vegetables on the stove top that require some time to steam.  Everything was going well until I put the gnocchi in the pan.  The first few gnocchi fell off easily and I thought, okay, this isn’t going to be too bad, but as time went on, I got really frustrated and went with a “create a size” approach to the gnocchi.  I was really annoyed that they thought it would be ok to put it in the box without oiling or flouring them or separating them in some way to prevent sticking to each other.  The gnocchi was able to get some colouring on tasted amazing, the others…not so much.  Those were more like pasta mush.  The sauce was surprisingly good, but you know, when you fry things in bacon fat, it’s gonna be delicious.  I do like that they made a bottle of demi-glaze to include because after making that sauce I looked up how to make my own demi-glaze and that would have taken forever to make!  The kale was very nice in here, especially since I’m not huge on leafy green vegetables except for lettuce which I just eat on the side of everything I make anyways.  The only grievance I had was not with this recipe, but with kale in general.  It is such a pain to have to cut the leafy part off and into smaller pieces, but it is definitely worth all the time to do it because it was delicious.  Peas and bacon are a classic combo and the mascarpone was a really nice addition to elevate that sauce.  I will definitely be making this sauce again.  If not for gnocchi, it would work for pretty much any pasta dish.

The second dish we made was the Seared Steak.  Since Val loves lemon potatoes, I let her make them extra lemony (like the ones she loves at Van Gogh’s, a restaurant in our community).  Turns out, she made them so lemony I wanted to die.  I have never tasted something that was so lemony that it went bitter.  To be fair, it also had lemon zest, which is a little bitter in and of itself.  The steak itself could have been sliced more consistently (one piece reminded me of a slice of cheesecake, haha).  It definitely would have made it easier to cook.

We ended up making the Rotolo as the third dish because we thought the stew would be too inconvenient to pack for lunch the next day.  Well, the Rotolo as an unmitigated disaster.  Not only did the fresh pasta sheets fall apart in the pot as we were cooking them, the Rotolo we put in the oven almost caught fire.  That one was our fault, but taste wise, it wasn’t good.  For those who are asking, Rotolo is essentially just flat sheets of lasagne noodles used to wrap a filling within and then they are baked.  It’s very similar to the idea of a cannelloni or manicotti.  The most common filling I’ve come across is ricotta.  Usually the ricotta is mixed with something; in this case, it was spinach and pesto.  I started with the ricotta and pesto and it smelled delicious.  I had high hopes for it.  But after wilting the spinach and attempting to squeeze some of the water out before adding to the ricotta, that’s when things started to go south.  I started on the sauce shortly after.  The spice mix that was provided contained thyme, basil, garlic, oregano, marjoram, rosemary and sage.  My first issue with the spice mix was that “Italian” was misspelled.  My second was that the addition of marjoram gave it the weirdest taste.  I always make a recipe exactly as instructed the first time just to try the dish as the recipe’s creator intended, after that, I can and will tweak it to better fit my tastes.  I was excited since this sauce included mushrooms.  Since this dish was completely vegetarian, the mushrooms would give a nice hearty meatiness to the dish.  However, my issue with this was that the recipe card indicated that these mushrooms in the kit were cremini mushrooms.  They were very clearly not; they were ordinary white mushrooms which are fine, but they are not the same thing and someone who didn’t know that might try to recreate the recipe and end up with mushrooms that taste and feel totally different.  Alternatively, the inclusion of the incorrect kind of mushrooms might lead to people thinking that white and creminis are the same thing or mixing them up.  After all that, I would have preferred the creminis to the white.  Even though I seasoned everything with salt and pepper (though I really wasn’t sure how much seasoning I needed because almost every step told me to season with salt and pepper and I was afraid to over season), the dish still came out bland.  When I was describing this dish to people, the majority said it sounded really good.  On paper, it sounded really good to me too.  However, now I know that I prefer my tomato sauce to the one that was instructed in the recipe.  I know that I need to squeeze out way more water from the spinach and I know not to put oiled parchment paper into the oven under the broiler.

Our final dish was the Brazilian stew.  I was quite happy with how it turned out considering my apprehension about cooking rice on the stove.  Last time I tried to make coconut rice it turned out pretty bad.  This time, I stuck to the instructions like glue and it turned out really good.  Sure it was a little wet on the bottom and there were times I was worried I’d burn the rice or that it would come out soggy or uncooked, but overall, I did much better than the first time.  The flavours in the stew were quite similar to the flavour profiles I was used to in Asian cooking, particularly the use of aromatics like ginger and garlic to develop a deep and varied flavour of the stew.  Due to the fact I was storing the meat outside in the box it came in with the ice packs and the fact that it had snowed the few days before, the centre of the chicken breasts had frozen slightly.  This made it easier to cut into chunks, but brought in the concern that the pieces wouldn’t cook all the way through.  Being both Asian and lazy, I just decided to season them in the pan as they cooked rather than to mix them in a bowl and then toss them into a pan.  This probably made for a less even seasoning, but considering that it was about to go into a bunch of sauce with the same seasoning, I wasn’t hugely concerned.  Then came the stew.  I added everything just as the recipe said, but my stew wasn’t thickening.  Even after 15-20 minutes simmering, it was still more soup like than stew like.  I knew that the spinach that I was to add at the very end out add a lot of water to the sauce so I definitely had to thicken it up before I added it in.  I started by adding a bowl of corn starch slurry, hoping it would thicken up.  It didn’t work, so I thought maybe flour would work.  I added a small amount of that so it wouldn’t clump, but it still didn’t work.  So, I went back to my original plan and made a larger bowl of corn starch slurry and added it in and it worked!  It started thickening up really fast and then I got worried it would become too thick, but after adding in the spinach, it came to the right consistency.  Although it was not in the recipe, I added cilantro along with the lemon zest and toasted coconut on top of the stew at the very end and it was delicious.  The cilantro added the much needed fresh element to the dish.  As Val said, it was similar to an Indian curry, but a lot lighter and didn’t leave you feeling bloated at the end.  I think that partially had to do with the lemon juice that was added to the sauce as well as the lemon squeezed onto the individual portion at the end.  The acidity level provided in the sauce was perfect for Val; I had to forgo that extra lemon squeeze at the end.

For meal kits on the market as a whole, a good point that my friend, Carmen brought up was that these are great for people who don’t already know how to cook.  The other people I hear from are the ones who say they’re too uncreative to come up with these dishes, especially after a long day at work.  I get that, but as a creative person, when I don’t know what to cook, I just google the ingredients I have and see what comes up.  That’s always a great way to come up with new recipes to try out.  But also, because I do know how to cook a little bit, going on any of these meal kit websites will allow me to peruse the recipes they have and generate my own ideas.

Compared to Hello Fresh, it was inconvenient that I had to email the support team in order to cancel my subscription, whereas on Hello Fresh I simply just had to unsubscribe.  It took them about three days to get back to me, which isn’t terrible, but it would have been easier if I could have just deactivated it myself.

As this is only my second box, I will reserve judgment on its ranking.  Once I’ve had a chance to try out other boxes on the market, Chef’s Plate (which has apparently been purchased by Hello Fresh) and Miss Fresh, I’ll do one final review ranking all the meal boxes I’ve tried.

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GoodFood box – also super heavy especially since they put it in front of the door that opens outwards and I had to kick it far enough away to open the door

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Pan-Seared Gnocchi with Crispy Bacon, Peas, Lacinato Kale & Mascarpone Sauce

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Pan-Seared Gnocchi with Crispy Bacon, Peas, Lacinato Kale & Mascarpone Sauce

Food

Seared Steaks with Lemon-Oregano Potatoes & Roasted Zucchini

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Seared Steaks with Lemon-Oregano Potatoes & Roasted Zucchini

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Fresh Spinach Rotolo with Pesto & Ricotta, Tomato Sauce & Sautéed Mushrooms

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Fresh Spinach Rotolo with Pesto & Ricotta, Tomato Sauce & Sautéed Mushrooms (oops, fire)

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Fresh Spinach Rotolo with Pesto & Ricotta, Tomato Sauce & Sautéed Mushrooms (mine was just microwaved)

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Brazilian Chicken Stew with Toasted Coconut Rice, Fresh Tomatoes & Wilted Spinach

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Brazilian Chicken Stew with Toasted Coconut Rice, Fresh Tomatoes & Wilted Spinach

Restaurant Review: Japanese Village

Location:  317 10 Ave SW

From the first time Val went, she was raving about the steak sauce.  She even bought a bottle of it at Christmas for my ex, Braeden (who unfortunately let it go bad without even trying any…what a waste of money).  I knew that if she had liked the steak sauce that much, I had to try it.  After all, Val and I have similar tastes and if she really like this place, it must be good.

We made reservations here for 6:30, but since I got off work at 3:00 and Val ended up finishing up her meeting thing at 6:00, but the restaurant was a three minute walk for her, we both ended up there super early.  We waited for a while before they said that they could seat us.  Although neither of us checked our watches or phones for the time, I’m pretty sure they seated us earlier than 6:30.  We were seated at the remaining two seats next to a party of five.  It took some time, but our orders were taken and our chef appeared.  He clearly had a showman’s persona and that level of involvement with a character like that, that close and personal made me a little uncomfortable, but I’m not the kind of person to judge before trying something out.  The meals we ordered came with soup, salad, rice, green tea, and a dessert.  Being unsure that there’d be enough food (since I’ve never been) and never passing up the opportunity to eat squid, we ordered the ika karaage.  The dish was quite small, expensive, and honestly, not that good. I’ve definitely had better.  We were first served the soup, which was an egg drop soup.  It was nicely flavoured and the temperature was just right, but it wasn’t anything special.  It was followed by a salad that also wasn’t that special.  The only thing I remember is that it was high acidic, which made me pucker a couple times at how sour it was.  All the while, we watched and listened to our chef crack jokes and throw his cooking utensils around.  I became especially uncomfortable when I was looking down to finish my salad and the minute I looked up he shoved a gigantic block of softened butter in my face, saying something to the effect of have some vanilla ice cream.  My mouth fell open in shock and the only thing I could do was pretend to eat it.  It was too late.  There was no recovery from that.  It did make the people at the table laugh, so I guess not all was lost.  Slowly, we started getting served food.  Shrimp with yum yum sauce (not really sure what that is…) and a lot of veggies (that I didn’t end up finishing).  The highlight of the evening was, of course, the onion volcano (unfortunately I have to upgrade my WordPress account for me to post the video.  I tried to post it on Facebook, but Facebook says the file is too small).  Both Val and I ordered steaks, which are cut into cubes for us, but the seasoning wasn’t really all that special.  That’s where the steak sauce came in.  The chef had already put some into the dishes in front of us and on our rice if we wanted, so I had tasted it.  I couldn’t really put my finger on what it was exactly in the sauce that I didn’t like, but there was something in it I didn’t like.  Val said there was a lot of onion, which I’m going to take her word for because she’s really good at discerning components of sauces and other mixed foodstuffs.  After the meat, I was pretty much full (hence I didn’t finish my veggies), but there was still tea and dessert.  The green tea was tasteless; it was like drinking coloured hot water.  And the green tea ice cream isn’t creamy and matcha-y like I’m used to.  There were parts of the ice cream where you could literally crunch on ice crystals, which isn’t really a quality I look for in my ice cream.

Overall, I’d say I wouldn’t come back here again, but I’d say that it’s something that everyone should experience once and decide for themselves if this is something they would like.  I know that the birthday girl in the party of five next to us said this was her favourite restaurant and she has come back repeatedly, but I wouldn’t.  I just want to enjoy my meal in peace without having someone heckling me every few seconds and cracking jokes that I’m forced to laugh along with.  But the experience wasn’t all bad.  It was nice how considerate they were of the dietary concerns of the person sitting next to me.  She had celiacs and they were constantly checking in with her to make sure everything was okay and if she wanted them to prepare something separate for her in the kitchen so that it was guaranteed to not contain gluten.

Unfortunately, I would have to rate this experience a 1/5.  Not because the food was particularly bad or the service was lacking, but because I don’t feel like this dining experience was one that I enjoyed or was comfortable with.

 

Restaurant Review: The Beltliner

Location: 243 12th Ave SW
Website: http://thebeltliner.com/

I first heard about this restaurant on the CBC Calgary Eyeopener with David Gray and Angela Knight. It sounded interesting so that night I came home and checked out the menu. It looked pretty decent so I made plans to go for a birthday brunch with my sister and cousin. Today, we finally got the chance to go.

When we arrived, the place was already pretty packed and I wasn’t sure that we’d be able to get in. However, the hostess took down our phone number on an iPad and said that it should only be another 15-20 minutes before we could get a table. Now, I’ve been to tonnes of restaurants that tell me 10-15 minutes and it’s more like an hour or longer, so I took that with a grain of salt. But true to her word, about fifteen minutes later, she came to outside to call us in and seat us. She was really cheery and upbeat and made me feel welcome and excited to try out this place. We were seated at a table that was clearly meant for two people, so it was a bit tight. I didn’t mind since where we were seated was in the direct path of a cool breeze coming through the open doors of the patio. We sat, perusing the menu, me still caught between ordering the Chicken and Waffles and the Mushroom Benedict and waited for our waitress. It was a while before she showed up and asked what we wanted to drink. She didn’t seem all that happy or excited like our hostess had been, but that was okay. We ordered our drinks and she headed off for a long time. When she returned, one of our party had gone to wash up and the waitress asked if we knew what she wanted, but when we didn’t know exactly how she wanted the eggs, the waitress seemed rather annoyed. She seemed more interested in helping out her other tables than helping us out, which I found to be a bit rude.

I noticed that the table next to us was seated before us but had their order taken after us. And while their order came out first, she delivered the wrong order to him. She asked him if he’d be okay to take it or if she should take it back and have his actual order made. He chose to keep the mixed up ordered item and I mean I would too. There was no point to waste any food.

I was the only person who ordered a hot drink, a mocha. My sister had a blue raspberry soda and my cousin had a veggie smoothie. The veggie smoothie had kale, apple, cucumber, ginger, pineapple, yogurt, but I kept tasting banana. Not sure why, but I kept thinking it was in there. Nothing else was really noticeable in taste, but my sister insisted she could taste the kale overpowering everything.

We started with an appetizer, the molded yolks and caviar. It was unlike anything I had ever tried. The yolks had been sous vide, molded into mango looking cubes, sprinkled with some salt flakes and served with caraway crackers and a small spoon of Canadian sturgeon caviar. The portion size of the caviar was slightly disappointing. It was clear that the caviar’s salinity was meant to be paired with the sous vide yolk because the  yolks were flavourless. Unlike masago or tobiko, sturgeon caviar is much fishier in its taste, so I wasn’t able to really eat all that much. The caraway crackers were really an interesting pairing to the yolk and caviar. The yolky taste wasn’t all that noticeable, but the texture was creamier than usual. For the price of this appetizer, I expected it to be a little bigger and with a little bit more caviar.

For our mains, my cousin ordered the classic 2x2x2, my sister had the steak and eggs, and I myself finally decided on the chicken and waffles. The classic 2x2x2 is the typical breakfast that one would find at home: two eggs, two sausages (or bacon as it was in this case), and two pieces of toast. A small dipper of berry jam was provided on the side if you wanted some jam to go with your buttered toast. In my cousin’s opinion, the jam was too sweet. In my sister’s opinion, it was just right. And in my opinion, it was a bit tart. My sister’s steak and eggs were a bit of a weird one. She asked for her steak to be done medium rare and for the most part it was, except for one section of it, which was rare. Also, scrambled eggs? Yeah, not something that I’d normally request to have with my steak, but it really didn’t look like three eggs had been used. Her dish also came with toast and hash browns. The hash browns were glazed in sugar, giving it a crunchy exterior and they were triangle shaped, but when you cut into them, you could see the individual layers, like when you pile a bunch of scalloped potatoes on top of one another. Then came mine. The Chicken and Waffles. In my opinion, it was huge. I shared the majority of it with my sister and cousin and still couldn’t finish it off. They give you a full buttermilk waffle covered in white gravy and several pieces of crispy fried chicken thighs. At first I thought the pieces were to big not to contain bones, but they had been deboned prior to battering and frying. My biggest complaint about the chicken was how much of each piece of chicken was batter. And the batter was so heavy that dousing it in hot sauce was the best option since the tartness and heat of the hot sauce really helped to cut through the grease. I would have preferred if they had pounded a chicken breast flat, breaded it, and fried it instead of having these hard to eat, hard to cut chunks. I did like the slight sweetness of the waffle that contrasted with the saltiness of the gravy and chicken, but like many of the other dishes here, there was way too much salt in the batter, in the gravy, and on the steak.

To top it all off, when the bills came, they were separated. I was going to ask for her to do that, but she did that for us already. Only problem was, was that she mixed up everything for everyone. My cousin’s bill ended up with my mocha, her main, and the entire appetizer while my sister’s ended up with her drink, my cousin’s drink, and her main and mine was just my main.

Poor service, order and bill mix ups and over salted food have made me think about ever returning to this restaurant. Maybe I’ll give it a couple years before I come back, but based on today’s experience I’d have to rate it a 1.75/5.

The Beltliner Exterior

The Beltliner Exterior

The Beltliner Interior

The Beltliner Interior

The Beltliner Interior

The Beltliner Interior

The Beltliner Interior

The Beltliner Interior

Molded Yolks and Caviar

Molded Yolks and Caviar

Classic 2x2x2

Classic 2x2x2

Steak and Eggs

Steak and Eggs

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles

Restaurant Review: Montana’s Cookhouse

Location: 11654 Sarcee Trail NW
Website: http://www.montanas.ca/

Tonight, in celebration of my father and sister’s birthdays, we went out for dinner. Not really sure if this was actually their birthday dinner, but we can call it that. Like Boston Pizza, this is another restaurant that our family frequents. It is relatively cheap and offers a wide selection of items. I don’t know how we got into the habit, but every meal we have at a Western restaurant, we now always start with an appetizer. Maybe that was my fault?

Usually we get a starter platter which is like a combination of the cookhouse platter and the bbq starters platter, which consists of deep fried pickles, loaded baked potato skins, ribs, and four cheese spinach dip or something like that. There’s usually so much food I can’t really remember what’s there. And also the menu changes so I can’t always refer back to it. We’ve also ordered the calamari from here, but it’s really not that memorable, so I don’t remember if it was any good. Today’s appetizer was the Kapow! Shrimp. We had this a long time ago and I really like it, but it’s funny how memories are hardly accurate. Kapow! Shrimp are Jalapeno popcorn shrimp deep fried and tossed in Kapow! sauce served on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce in a skillet. The breading to shrimp ratio was way off. In other words, I cut the breaded shrimp in half and couldn’t find the shrimp. The batter was rather heavy and in my opinion over fried. It was so crunchy that at one point I thought I was going to break a tooth. The Kapow! sauce which is what gives the dish it’s name is a combination of creamy garlic and tangy Thai chili mixed garnished with fresh chopped cilantro and a splash of lemon/lime juice. The sauce itself was not evenly distributed on the shrimp leaving some very bland and others over coated. The chili was very slight and the jalapeno negligible; the sauce tasted like a cheap salad dressing and it certainly wasn’t worth the $12 it was priced at.

For our mains, I had the chicken tacos, my sister had the beef brisket sandwich, my mom had the fish and chips, and my dad had the sirloin. I have an affinity for tacos, so along with my obsession to try every restaurant’s take on calamari, I also want to try every restaurant’s take on the taco. Some of the best tacos I’ve had are from Joey’s Seafood. Now usually ordering tacos is not the best decision since portion sizes are small and they can be quite pricey. However, tonight I thought I’d just give it a chance. I was not disappointed.  I thought that two soft shell tacos would never fill me up. I have never been more wrong in my life. When they said “jam packed” I thought, “Yeah right,” but they were pretty packed. It had all the same things tacos come with: lettuce, cheese, red onions, diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and lime juice. So what did they bring to the table that made these tacos different? There were a couple pieces of tortilla chips, but that wasn’t what made it “special.” No, it was their Kapow! sauce of course! Unlike in the appetizer, their addition to the taco made them all the more flavourful. Though the taste of the cilantro and lime didn’t come through in the tacos either, I hardly noticed. The chicken, the star of the dish, really was the star. Though a bit dry, I enjoyed that slight charred taste that was light and gave the feeling of the chicken coming fresh off the BBQ. As I side, I ordered fries and in the years of coming here, I can say that the fries are improving. They are a bit on the salty side, but at least they are crunchy now. My sister had ordered the Brisket Burger the last time we were here and that was ridiculously huge, so this time we decided to downsize and go with the beef brisket sandwich. The Brisket Burger was essentially a burger topped with a brisket. In other words, a lot of meat. The Brisket sandwich is exactly the same, minus the beef patty, but the menu gives the option of having half a pound or one pound of brisket for people who have a larger or smaller appetites. It was very tender as advertised, but not really my cup of tea (or hunk of meat? I don’t think there’s an appropriate expression for this :/). She chose to have the house salad as a side and they forgot to bring or add balsamic vinegar into the salad…My mom had the fish and chips, something I was originally considering ordering, but decided against it and I’m glad because the first thing I tasted when I put a piece of fish in my mouth was a puddle of oil pooling in my mouth. It goes without saying, that it was the most disgusting and unpleasant thing ever. The tartar sauce was more creamy than tangy, which didn’t help cut down on the greasiness of the fish and fries and it only came with one lemon wedge. This is the time I wish I had had a bottle of malt vinegar to douse the fish in. Finally, my dad had the steak. I could have told you that ordering a steak from anywhere that wasn’t a steakhouse was going to be a big mistake and I am right. I’ve had steak from this place before and the first thing that comes to mind is dry. Despite what the menu says, the sirloins are not grilled to perfection; they are far from it. Even the sides taste better than the meat. My dad chose the kicked up corn and garlic mash as sides. The kicked up corn isn’t bad. I personally like it because it’s really different from any other place I’ve been that offers corn as a side. It has bell peppers (red and green) and some kind of light seasoning that gives it a nice salty-sweet taste. The garlic mash…not so garlicky and not really that good. There was a strange taste to it, but at least it was smooth with the random potato skin to add texture.

My recommendation when visiting Montana’s is to go for the sandwiches or burgers. If your appetite is anything like mine, you’ll find they are always so large that you end up packing up half of it away. I always like having a bit to bring home as a treat for lunch the next day or something to nibble at as a midnight snack. If you’re looking for a relatively cheap and casual place to have a filling lunch or dinner with friends, this is the place to go. I would rate it a 3.75/5 because it’s not a high class restaurant I’d prefer to have dinner with after a long day to relax and enjoy, but this is definitely a family friendly place. Maybe one day, when I have kids of my own, I will be able to say that this is the restaurant I’d want to go to with my kids after a long day.

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KAPOW! Shrimp

Chicken Taco

Chicken Taco

Beef Brisket Sandwich

Beef Brisket Sandwich

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

Sirloin Steak with crispy onions, mashed potatoes and kicked up corn

Sirloin Steak with crispy onions, mashed potatoes and kicked up corn

Restaurant Review: The Keg

Location: 130 Crowfoot Terrace NW
Website: https://www.kegsteakhouse.com/

Tonight is a special night. It’s the eve before the Chinese New Year. And fittingly, we decided to have go out for dinner. I made the executive decision not to go for Chinese food as those places will be packed for weeks leading up to and after Chinese New Year’s. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to The Keg and as I have only gone one other time, I have no recollection of it.

The Crowfoot location is fairly new and looks absolutely breathtaking. As it is a newer location, the restaurant looks very modern, but the lights are turned down low to set the mood for a romantic “candlelit” dinner. Conveniently, it is located directly across from the movie theatre. When we first arrived around 5:30, there were already quite a few patrons, which surprised me. I didn’t expect that so many people would be there in the middle of the week, let alone that early in the evening. But as the evening progressed, more and more patrons arrived, until we were about to leave and the volume became so loud that I was no longer feeling the romantic atmospheriness that I felt when I first walked in. Since we arrived early, there wasn’t a wait, we were quickly seated and our waiter came by promptly to fill our glasses and take our drink orders. Almost immediately after he left, another waitress came by and dropped off a plate with the complementary sourdough bread and whipped butter. The sourdough was freshly baked and very aromatic. The butter melted on contact. The inside was fluffy while the “crust” was wonderfully chewy.

As it was a special evening, we indulged a little bit more than we usually do. We started with the calamari, that of course being my choice. I have apparently made it my goal to try out every calamari in every restaurant to compare and find the restaurant that serves the world’s best calamari. The calamari came with a mix of breaded and fried sliced jalapenos and pickled red bell peppers and two sauces: a spicy sweet ginger garlic sauce and a Greek feta sauce. In addition to adding a kick to the dish, the heat of the jalapenos and the pickled red peppers helped to balance the greasiness of the deep fried squid. Between the two sauces, my family and I preferred the spicy sweet ginger garlic sauce because like the pickled peppers and jalapenos, the acidity and heat from the sauce helped mitigate the oiliness even more.

For our mains, I had the Sirloin Oscar, my sister and father had the prime rib, and my mom had the Lobster and Shrimp Dinner Salad. Both my sister and father got the ten ounce and it was huge! Each came with your choice of side; my sister had garlic mash and my dad had mixed vegetables (carrots, broccoli, asparagus, red bell peppers), crispy fried onions, red wine herb jus, and horseradish. The onions were incredibly over-salted. Though I do love fried onions, these were nearly impossible to eat in large quantities without a need for gallons upon gallons of water or something kinda plain to eat alongside it to make the saltiness more bearable (like rice, bread, potatoes). For my Sirloin Oscar, I also chose to have the garlic mash. It was delightful, smooth, garlicky, and oh so buttery. I liked that there were potato skins in the mash, but I can also see that it might be a divisive point as some people would rather their mashed potatoes to be consistently smooth rather than having the random piece of skin in random forkfuls. Ah, but what is life without a few surprises? The Bearnaise sauce, like the red wine herb jus, came in a small creamer like apparatus so that I could control the amount I wanted added onto my shrimps, scallops, and asparagus. In the end, I just dumped the entire thing all over my steak, shrimp, scallops, asparagus and potatoes, wishing there was more and wanting to lick out the inside of the container, but deciding against it as it would be poor etiquette to do so. The shrimps and scallops weren’t over seasoned, with the exception of one piece. That was good because the Bearnaise and seasonings on the beef and the beef jus fulfilled that purpose. My mom’s salad was nothing special really. The salad consisted of Artisan greens, black beans, corn, charred corn, field mushrooms, tomatoes and fresh avocado with a mango sesame dressing, topped with pine nuts and of course lobster and shrimp. I’ll admit that the dressing was pretty good; it was light, but due to the acidity of the mango, sufficiently stimulated my appetite. Ironically, I found it weird to be eating leaves of salad and accidentally stabbing a hidden black bean or field mushroom or avocado and getting a strange, unfamiliar texture in my mouth when I least expected. Clearly, for me, some surprises are better than others.

For a steakhouse of its calibre and reputation, I expected nothing more than the very best and it did not disappoint. More often than not, when I go to a restaurant (claiming to be a steakhouse or just being an ordinary restaurant whose’s specialty is not steak), the steaks always come out so poorly that I’ve given up on ordering them all together. Oftentimes when I order a steak medium, I’ll get either a bloody steak or a well done steak. I don’t mind getting a well done steak because that’s what I actually want most of the time. However, if I order well done, I get to eat flavoured cardboard. I’m happy to say that is not the case here. Tonight I decided to go for a medium and I was pleased that they got the temperature correct.

Finally, for dessert we decided to get “two.” The first was the Billy Miner Pie and the second was a trio of samplers. The Billy Miner Pie, isn’t much of a pie. Essentially it is mocha ice cream on a chocolate crust (which was very crumbly and resembled crushed oreos) with hot fudge, caramel and almonds. It was way larger than I had imagined, but considering what we were paying for it, it was reasonable. The pie wasn’t really anything special. Essentially it was an ice cream cake drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. The trio of samplers were a fudge brownie, mango creme brulee, and a butter tart. The fudge brownie was my least favourite. It tasted like it had been in the fridge too long and had absorbed all the yucky tastes of fridge. It was served with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. Funny thing was I wasn’t really paying attention when I took my first bite and grabbed a spoonful of cream and ate it instead of the ice cream. Well you can imagine what my face looked like after I had consumed it…The next one I tried was the butter tart. I had difficulty cutting into it with my spoon, but maybe that’s just because I’m gibbled. I have to say, the butter tart was my favourite. It wasn’t too sweet or rich and it was perfectly complemented by the vanilla ice cream. The only bad thing I could say about this sampler was that the vanilla in the vanilla ice cream was far more mild than most other vanilla ice creams I’ve had for dessert. The last one was the mango creme brulee. The caramelized sugar on top make the most beautiful crackling-crunch when the spoon broke through the surface. Inside, the mango filling was cold. Personally, I don’t like mango in my creme brulee, the tartness of the mango just doesn’t seem to go with the creaminess of this dessert. However, this was one of my sister’s favourites. I still prefer the original or maybe even coconut, and I prefer it warm.

Some would say that this restaurant is on the pricey side, but I’d have to disagree. Steak is often more expensive than most other menu items, but considering the portion sizes, I’d say the price is worth it. I was only able to finish half my entree, which was about $32.

All things considered, I would definitely return here if I’m craving a steak. Though there isn’t much else on the menu other than steak (understandably, as this is as STEAKhouse, not a chicken house or fish house or what have you), it has a great selection of steaks. I would rate this restaurant 4.5/5.

Sourdough and Whipped Butter

Sourdough and Whipped Butter

Calamari

Calamari

Lobster and Shrimp Dinner Salad

Lobster and Shrimp Dinner Salad

Prime Rib with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Prime Rib with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sirloin Oscar with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato

Sirloin Oscar with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato

Background (left to right): Fudge Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, Butter Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream, Mango Creme Brulee Foreground: Billy Miner Pie

Background (left to right): Fudge Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, Butter Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream, Mango Creme Brulee
Foreground: Billy Miner Pie

Restaurant Review: Joey’s

Locations:
Joey’s Eau Claire: 200 Eau Claire Market, 208 Barclay Parade SW, Calgary, AB
Joey’s Crowfoot: 50 Crowfoot Way NW, Calgary, AB, Canada

Website: http://www.joeyrestaurants.com

This evening I returned to Joey’s Crowfoot to share a meal with my best friend before she leaves the city for Vancouver. The first time I was here was with my cousin for my eighteenth birthday and I don’t quite remember what I had, except that the starter was a Ahi Tuna Taco with Wasabi aioli. The second time I went to the Eau Claire location with my cousin and best friend for my birthday. Both my cousin and best friend ordered the lobster grilled cheese while I got the Butter Chicken. I really enjoyed the naan and butter chicken, but the strange crunchy thing and the basmati rice was okay. There was nothing actually wrong with the rice, it was made as it should be, but I just prefer naan over rice.

Tonight we decided to go all out: appetizer, main, and dessert. We started with the pesto shrimp flatbread. It was different, a nice different since we are always getting calamari because of me. This time I let her decide and it was really a good choice. The flatbread was nice and crunchy around the edges, the cheese wonderfully stringy, and it was topped with fresh basil and a chipotle aioli that gave it a nice kick. The only thing I could say I disliked about the flatbread was the chunks of sundried tomatoes. As I’m already not a huge fan of sundried tomatoes, I felt their presence was unnecessary and didn’t bring an extra flavour profile to the dish.

For our mains, my best friend ordered the Sashimi Tuna Salad. Now the last time we went for sushi, sashimi wasn’t one of her favourites, so it surprised me when she ordered it and it surprised me even more when she said that she had enjoyed it despite not enjoying the sashimi we had at Sakana Grill. The salad is unlike any I’ve seen on menus elsewhere. I mean, how often do you find a salad of seared rare Ahi, mango, peanuts, avocado, and crispy noodles with a cilantro ginger dressing. She described the salad as being “well balanced, has some sweetness, but also nice flavours of the cilantro and garlic olive oil dressing” come through on the palate. All in all the tuna was a good pairing and “it had just the right amount of noodles, just the right amount of everything really.”

I ordered the steak and sushi at the recommendation of a coworker. It was essentially a Japanese surf & turf, tataki style CAB® PRIME steak, with Ponzu sauce, and rainbow roll. The rainbow roll consists of Ahi tuna, salmon, crab, avocado, sriracha aioli. She wasn’t kidding, this was amazing. This is the only time I will ever eat raw fish. I absolutely can’t stand sashimi, but I was totally fine with it on the rainbow roll. The contrast between the steak and the sushi was absolutely delicious. However, as I’m used to having Japanese sushi, the rolls were a little squished and not really filled with much. Naturally I didn’t touch the ginger or wasabi but it wasn’t like they gave me soy sauce to dip it in, not that I minded as I was busy wiping up the sriracha aioli off the plate with the rolls. There wasn’t really any heat from the sriracha aioli, but it was delicious nonetheless. The steak was so tender and flavourful that I wanted to eat another whole steak.

For dessert we both got the molten lava chocolate souffle. It was not as I thought a souffle ought to have been. For one, it looked more like a molten lava cake rather than a souffle and I’m pretty sure, though I’ve never had a souffle I’m sure the bottom isn’t supposed to be crunch and near impossible to cut through with a spoon without sending something semi-flying across my plate, but I loved the contrast of the whole dish: warmth of the molten cake and the cold of the vanilla ice cream, the sweet of the ice cream and cake contrasted to the tartness of the raspberries and raspberry compote.

Overall the food here is amazing, however the price is a completely different story. The service is much better than a lot of places I’ve been to. Our server was ultra helpful and incredibly accommodating to our needs.  Taking everything into consideration I would rate this place 4/5 primarily because my wallet would greatly suffer if I went there frequently.

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

Lobster Grilled Cheese with Yam Fries

Lobster Grilled Cheese with Yam Fries

Lobster Grilled Cheese with Fries

Lobster Grilled Cheese with Fries

Steak and Sushi

Steak and Sushi

Sashimi Tuna Salad

Sashimi Tuna Salad

Pesto Shrimp Flatbread

Pesto Shrimp Flatbread

Molten Lava Chocolate Souffle

Molten Lava Chocolate Souffle

 

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