Keg Steakhouse and BarPosted: 09/08/2013
Ah, Vancouver. How I missed your naturally sweet tap water, your cooling seaside breeze, and your obsession with recycling! How on earth did I survive without a Tim Hortons Ice Capp for two whole months? In any case, returning to Vancouver after two months in Europe was bliss for me, and resulted in gorging myself on my mother’s Korean home cooking, sushi, and other (mostly Asian) cuisines. Still, you can’t eat Asian food all the time. During my first week back in Vancouver, SB and I visited the downtown location of The Keg. Laugh at us if you will for visiting a chain restaurant, but I’ve yet to have a bad experience with The Keg!
Still, I’d never been to the downtown location before, although I’ve walked by it countless times. Directly across the street from Joe Fortes, The Keg offers a more frugal (although more limited) option for steak and seafood. Despite offering the same menu as other locations, the downtown location does feel and look swankier. We were seated promptly by our hostess and proceeded to order off the same old familiar menu.
As always, we received our complimentary Bread first. It arrived promptly after we put in our order, which was nice. I hate just sitting around waiting for the bread to come. Anyways, it was sourdough, which I don’t prefer, but ah well. Served with whipped butter, it was quite warm and chewy, as bread should be. However, it felt a bit tough and hard on my throat–although that may have just been me being extra sensitive, as I had a bad cough the whole week.
We wanted to share an appetizer, and the Mushrooms Neptune ($9.95) sounded like the most intriguing option available. They were simply wine simmered mushrooms caps topped with crab meat and cheese, served with some sourdough. We were disappointed by this, as the mushrooms caps were very small and therefore an afterthought in the dish. Instead of the mushrooms being stuffed with the other ingredients, it felt like the mushrooms were simply another ingredient in the dish, if that makes any sense. The taste of cheese was so strong that nothing else was really apparent, although the bread once again was warm and chewy. We didn’t think that this dish was anything special, and we probably wouldn’t order it again.
Despite what you might think, I’m not much of a big eater, so I decided on the Grilled Top Sirloin (8 oz) ($22.95) with a twice baked potato. This was more than enough for me–I finished roughly half of it. As for the veggies, they were nothing special–I thought the asparagus should have been cooked longer, as it was too hard for me. I asked for the steak medium rare, and it arrived perfectly cooked, and it was both chewy and tender. I did find it a bit bland, though, and thought it could have benefitted from more freshly ground pepper. The potato contained bacon bits, which is always a plus, and the smooth, mashed potato-like texture was nicely broken up by intermittent chunky bacon bits.
Now, I only finished about half of my steak, but SB managed to finish the rest of it for me, as well as his Prime Rib (16 oz) ($30.95), which arrived with horseradish, red wine herb au jus, onion strings, and the same twice baked potato. I’ve always had a soft spot for prime rib, and this one was quite tender and arrived medium rare, just the way we’d asked for it. The meat itself had a bit too much fat, but it wasn’t too much of a hassle to remove it. The onion strings were rather soggy–perhaps we waited too long to eat them? Anyways, the potato was again the same creamy, bacon-y goodness. I’m not a huge fan of bacon (blasphemous, I know), but there’s something about those salty tiny bacon bits inside a baked potato that is just so sinfully delicious.
I’ve always enjoyed The Keg for their solid eats. It’s a good option for special occasion family dinners (graduations, birthdays, and whatnot). I’ve always visited the Burnaby location with my family and had stellar, friendly service there, so I was surprised at the strange, awkward service we received here. Our waitress was friendly, but there were a couple of things I found odd about her behaviour. We were seated by a sort of low wall, and she would lean over this to talk to us Home Improvement-style, which I found patronizing. There was plenty of room on the other side of our table for her to stand without disturbing the other table of diners. I suppose that she was probably trained to behave this way, though, and I had the feeling she was relatively new at her job. It didn’t make my dining experience unenjoyable, but it was troubling, to say the least.
To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed by my experience at The Keg. In comparison to the stellar experiences I’ve had at the Burnaby location, my experience here was less than stellar, although I found the food satisfying and well worth the money. As with any location, though, the menu is less than imaginative, but it does what it’s designed for. Sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned steak, and for that, I’d highly recommend The Keg–maybe just not this location.
Keg Steakhouse and Bar
742 Thurlow Street