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Posts tagged ‘Steakhouse’

Restaurant Review: Cattle Baron

Location: 3340 26 Street NE (Royal Oak)

This restaurant has been around for a while, but the Royal Oak location is new. My dad has been talking about this restaurant for god knows how long so I’m glad to finally have the chance to try this place out.

I must admit, I do love a well cooked steak. Depending on the day, I prefer my steak anywhere from well done (no this does not mean over cooked charcoal) to medium rare.

We were promptly seated and as we perused the menu, I noticed that they had turned the lights down for ambience. Now, I have mixed feelings about this. I get that they need to establish a particular mood, but I don’t appreciate the restaurants who turn the lights down so low that I can no longer read the menu. Thankfully, Cattle Baron did not do that.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I love appetizers and everything on their appetizer portion of their menu looks fantastic. This evening Val chose the appetizer of the evening, the short dry ribs, as it was listed as a house specialty. These dry ribs are like nothing I’ve ever had before. Sure, they were a little tough and messy and hot (burned my fingers a couple times) to eat, but they are absolutely the most delicious dry ribs I’ve had to date. It didn’t take us long to demolish them all. I’m not entirely certain what the seasoning/sauce mix was for them, but I’m pretty sure that it was soy based. The addition of the provided lemon wedge added a lovely overall freshness and acidity to the dish that it would have sorely lacked without.

For our mains, Val and my dad had the prime rib, I had the Steak Neptune, and my mom had the Fresh Salmon Filet. Val chose to have a double baked potato while my dad had the regular baked potato. I chose to go with their Caesar salad. The salmon came with rice and all the mains came with steamed fresh vegetables.  The prime rib was probably the largest of the three dishes (it was a lot of meat, definitely more than enough for me, but would be great for a carnivore).  The double baked potato, a Cattle Baron specialty, was probably one of the best sides I’ve ever had.  I mean, what’s not to love about a potato that has been baked, taken out, its contents mashed and topped with cheese and baked again.  If I have the chance to come back, I would love to have a whole thing to myself instead of just one bite.  That’s not to say I regret my choice in getting the Caesar salad because that was one of the better Caesars I’ve eaten.  It is a bit more garlicky than most other Caesars I’ve had, but that’s what makes it so good.  I come for the garlic!  The salmon came with a plentiful helping of rice.  It wasn’t anything special, but it was well seasoned and not overcooked; the perfect accompaniment to the salmon.  I think any of the other sides they have on their menu would’ve overpowered the delicate salmon, which was topped with a lemon butter sauce.  My Steak Neptune consisted of a cut of filet mignon topped with asparagus and shrimp dressed with hollandaise.  This has got to be one of the best Steak Neptunes I’ve ever had.  If I could afford to only eat filet mignons, I would.  All the dishes came with a side of steamed seasonal vegetables.  In the context of this review, where I’m saying that everything was great, sometimes it feels like the meaning of “great” is lost, but honestly, I had little to no complaints about the food or service.

Of course, the end to a perfect meal comes in the form of a crème brûlée.  I have to say, this is the only part of the meal I was disappointed by.  We order the Irish Créme Brûlée which sounded amazing and had the potential to be amazing, but unfortunately, it was ruined by the prevalent bitterness of burnt sugar.  After having that on my palate, it was very hard to taste, let alone enjoy the flavours of the dessert.  I mean, these things happen, so I’m not terribly upset and I do hope that this was just a one off.  Next time I want to try Chocolate Utopia. 

Overall, I was very impressed with this meal.  I would definitely recommend this restaurant and would return without question.  After all, I haven’t tried all their items on their appetizer menu yet! Based on this experience I would give this place a 4.5/5.

Short Dry Ribs
Fresh Salmon Filet
Prime Rib with Double Baked Potato
Steak Neptune
Irish Crème Brûlée

Restaurant Review: The Keg

Location: 130 Crowfoot Terrace NW

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



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: Smuggler’s Inn

Location: 6920 Macleod Trail S, Calgary, AB T2H 0L3

After a long day at work, it was nice to return to the comforting familiarity of Smuggler’s Inn. Smuggler’s has been one of the more affordable steakhouses that I’ve been too repeatedly. I hadn’t actually been back for a few years and usually the wait is about an hour without reservations so when we got in immediately last night, I would say I was delighted. However, that may in part be due to the weather.

The best thing about Smuggler’s that makes it so economical as a steakhouse is that it has an all you can eat soup and salad bar. The price of the soup and salad bar have already been calculated into the price of the entree, so it’s not worth your while to just skip out on it, unless you really hate salad or something or are allergic. I personally am not a huge fan of the salad bar as there isn’t much choice for me. I’m not denying they have a huge selection of items to build a salad, but I generally prefer to have mine already made for me, so I usually go for the pre-made salads available near the end of the counter. Some staples that I’ve seen available there time after time include a noodle salad with bell peppers, coleslaw with horseradish, and a potato salad. I enjoy their soups much more, in particular their Portuguese Sausage Soup. It has just the right amount of heat with a touch of sweetness. And because of the sausage and kidney beans, it could fill me up as much as a main.

Unfortunately, as I went with my family I didn’t have chance to take photos, but also, it’s way too dark in Smuggler’s to get a decent picture. For our mains, I ordered the Chicken Neptune, my sister had the Prime Rib Sandwich, my mom had the Halibut Tarragon, and my dad had what I’m supposing was the Smuggler’s Cut sized Prime Rib. The Chicken Neptune was fantastic. It was served with a rice pilaf. There were two “giant” pieces of chicken that were topped with lump crabmeat and shoelace thin buttered aspargus and of course a bernaise sauce. The chicken was seasoned with some sort of cajun rub that didn’t overpower the rest of the dish, there was just enough bernaise sauce so that you knew it was there and could taste it without the entire dish being drenched in a thick cream sauce. The portion size is perfect for the price and because of the soup and salad bar, I’m never able to finish. My sister’s Prime Rib Sandwich wasn’t exactly what we expected. In fact, the garlic toast it was served with was probably about the size of a crostini and comparable to the size of the Yorkshire pudding if it had been flattened and condensed. But the dish isn’t about its sides, the important thing was that the prime rib was done right. I don’t understand how difficult it is to get the temperature just right because I’ve never cooked a steak or prime rib myself before and I’m sure I’d be more sympathetic if I knew how difficult it is, but I don’t, so judging from a purely taste and temperature perspective. Taking into consideration that they are a steakhouse and are supposedly the experts on it, they should be able to get it right unlike other places where I’ve ordered a well done steak and gotten a six ounce piece of charcoal or conversely when my sister ordered a medium rare t-bone steak and got it blue…My dad’s prime rib came with mashed potatoes on the side…it came in a giant skillet! It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. The prime rib wasn’t actually seasoned that much, the seasoning was probably in the horseradish aioli that it came with, but I didn’t want any of that. But at least it was tender. Both my sister and dad’s dishes came with a side of broccolini. My mom’s halibut looked really appetizing. Though I’m not a huge fan of seafood, I would order that. Her halibut was topped with shrimps and scallops served on a bed of rice seasoned with a tarragon orange cream. My mom said that there was a hint of sweetness, but she would have liked to have tasted a bit more tarragon.
I enjoyed the coffee’s rich and full-bodied flavour. Recently I’ve been drinking a lot more macchiatos and espressos, so I can’t stand a weak coffee. After dinner I had an espresso with my dessert: the black and white brownie. It featured two large triangular pieces of brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, cream, hot fudge sauce, garnished with mint leaves, and served in a skillet. The bitterness of the espresso complimented the sweetness of the brownies perfectly.

The only downside of my experience there last night was the service. I’m not sure if they were understaffed, but there really weren’t that many diners last night, again due to the weather, but our waiter still took forever to bring the menu, get drinks, bring the bill, etc. Normally they are very efficient because of how much money they’d lose if they weren’t, so I was wondering if the weather was yet another factor in the slow service. Whatever their reasons I was slightly disappointed. Despite the disappointing service, I would still return because the food is amazing. I sincerely hope that it was a one time thing and not that their standards are slipping. Everyone has a bad day, so I hope that’s all it was.
With all that to consider I would definitely bring friends back here for a nice evening out and rate it 4/5.

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