I have developed a stereotype toward steak houses. Whether it is Hy’s, Morton’s, Ruths’ Chris or the Keg, you can count on a few things:
- A dim, stuffy, cigar lounge type environment.
- A detailed description of the difference between rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well and well done (followed by the fact that the chef recommends medium rare) from the tie-wearing, perma-smiling waitstaff.
- A price tag suggesting that cows are an endangered species, especially when reminded that “sides are extra” but can be shared with the table.
For these reasons I don’t frequent them often. I can purchase my preferred cut of meat, season and prepare it my way for a fraction of the price. I was curious to see how Vancouver’s trendy Glowbal group would alter my expectations.
Well…they have cooler music.
I opted for a terrific 12 oz striploin ($39). Perhaps I was mesmerized by the clearly visible, ceiling high, salt-brick, dry aging vault that sat 12 feet from me. It was seasoned beautifully, cooked to a perfect medium-rare, was bursting with flavour and served with a single green onion. I did appreciate the array of sauces served with the steak. Whether you like a rich peppercorn, fresh chimichurri or tangy steak sauce (my favorite of the three), the variety was appreciated with each choosing its own way to catalyze the beef’s rich flavour.
I opted for a crab louie salad ($17). It had an aggressive garlic dressing which balanced the decent amount of sweet dungeness crab in the full-leafed salad which was garnished with a few cucumbers, slices of really ripe avocado, some shredded egg and one or two cherry tomatoes.
I was told by a colleague that the brussel sprouts were to die for, so perhaps there were stars in my eyes. In the end, they were a bit acid and salt happy, thrown out of balance by a little too much lemon and clumpy Parmesan respectively . A little sweet or heat would have made them more elite but in the end they were kind of neat.
Another over promise/under deliver item (this time from the waitress) was the “signature” Black + Blue butter cake. The cake was moist but it was a lot of the same with the imbalance favouring sweet and rich. Either some salted caramel or fresh berries for tartness would have been a welcome addition to this dessert from both a taste and aesthetic perspective.
When I read Mac and Cheese with truffled cheese sauce as a side, I hardly expected four deep fried fish-stick-looking things served with a ramekin of over-truffled cream sauce. They tasted like they looked; greasy and boring.
Black + Blue is another example of a stereotypical steakhouse but adds a bit of flare with an upbeat and sleek ambiance. Did I mention the cool music? The steak was fantastic..the rest was ok. If I went back I’d have two choices. One would be to roll the dice on the oysters or the spinach salad (prepared tableside) or maybe the frites and broccoli. The other may be to stare lustfully at the salt cavern, order a steak as is, indulge in the sauces, chew on the flaccid green onion and grab a fry and a gelato on the way back to the hotel.