Momofuku Daisho – Toronto, ON


Momofuku Daisho
Third floor, 190 University Ave
Toronto, ON
(647) 253-6227

Let’s continue on this “David Chang in Canada” journey shall we, by taking another flight upstairs to the third and top floor of Toronto’s house of Momofuku.  With the tasting menu offerings of the impressive looking counter seat-only kitchen of Shoto unavailable this evening, the remaining choice was the ala carte menu offerings at Daisho.  In case you are interested, I was informed by the hostess the two spaces are run by two seperate teams of chefs.

The large glass panels that feature prominently all along the outer barrier of the floor space is stunning.  As you are led to your table and make your way through the aesthetically clean lined tables and seating, you get the sense that you will definitely be paying for this view in the menu prices.  Watching the blue hour unfold if you time your visit nicely, is something I would recommend experiencing.

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Fogo de Chão – Washington, DC


Fogo de Chão
1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 347-4668

Fogo de Chão is a well known Brazilian churrascaria restaurant chain that offers the unique experience of Latin steakhouse plus full table-side service all in a high end environment.  It has successfully established a beachhead in the United States over the past decade, including this beautiful location in the US capital,  situated just several blocks away from the White House grounds.  This was perhaps the only pre-planned dinner I had on this trip (actually organized by another person).  The rest were all ad-hoc due to lack of time and I might add, interest.

It actually occupies a good chunk of the first floor of an impressive structure, better known as the Evening Star Building, which is listed in the National Register as a Historic Landmark.  When you see if during the height of the day, the building is impressive to even the non-architect with its classic French design and clean lines carved through the marble.  Doing some background research after the fact, I’ve learned it was originally constructed in 1898 and was the home to a newspaper (not surprisingly, called the Evening Star).

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Bobby Van’s – New York City, NY


Bobby Van’s Steakhouse
135, West 50th Street
New York, NY
(212) 957-5050

New York City has a plethora of eating options but for some reason, steakhouses come top of mind for me. From old school style establishments to the hip and trendy, steakhouses in this city seemingly have something for everyone seeking out a piece of grilled meat.

Having spent the greater part of the day flying to the east coast, further extended by the weather delays into the airport, I was in a glum mood trudging along the streets of midtown Manhattan in some windy and rainy conditions. With a hockey game on the tele that I was missing, I knew I had to find a place to eat that was showing the game. As we came upon the doors of Bobby Van’s (I couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony of the name of this place and the Canucks misfortunes), I could make out a long white marble topped counter bar, a packed house and some overhead screens, one of which was showing the end of the Montreal-Philly game.

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Vit’s Hawaiian Steak House – Honolulu, HI


Vit’s Hawaiian Steak House
2058 Kuhio Ave
Honolulu, HI
(808) 983-7275

I’ve learned that I sometimes don’t make the best decisions when I am wandering around with no real intentions on my own in a new city.  After a long lazy day spent at the beach, I decided to go for a walk after sunset and stumbled upon Vit’s Hawaiian Steak House, deciding that I should get something to eat for dinner before my other travel mates arrived at the airport later that same evening.

Adjacent to a hotel on the far west end of the Kuhio Avenue before it merges into Kalakaua Avenue, Vit’s has both a decent sized bar and dining area.  A few of the tables and booths were taken by larger groups, and if not for the solo drinkers at the bar, I would have felt more out of place dining alone.  As I was within ear shot of the bar, I overheard a few conversations that suggested to me they were regulars and knew the female bartender quite well.

Recognizing the surf and turf focus on the rather standard menu, I decided to take my chances and ordered the top listed entree, the signature Ono Steak, being Vit’s was proclaiming itself to be a steakhouse after all.  As the above picture depicts, what came out on the plate looked like an oddly shaped/cut slab of beef, that was so-so tender.

Supposedly marinated in an Asian base of soy, ginger, etc. overnight, the flavour was just not as strong as I hoped it would be, and I almost regretted declining the offer of A-1 Sauce (which I despise and which seems so “American” to me).  The accompanying slices of carrots were cooked but still too raw for my tastes, and the mound of mashed potato with gravy ended up being the best part of what was on my plate.

If not for the two tall pints of Kona Longboard Island Lager I had, I think I could have easily walked out of there disappointed and with an empty stomach.

Guess that makes it a double “ono” (oh no!) for me when it comes to meals with the Hawaiian word for “delicious” in the title.

Vit's Hawaiian Steak House on Urbanspoon

Longview Steakhouse – Longview, AB


Longview Steakhouse
102 Morrison Rd
Longview, AB T0L 1H0, Canada
(403) 558-2000

In honor of Stampede, I thought I would write about another favorite Alberta pasttime – beef. Alberta is well known for its beef, but in Calgary, I’ve found that more often than not, the beef fails to live up to its reputation. However, in the heart of cattle country, one gem really stands out from the rest, and really demonstrates the quality of Alberta beef – Longview Steakhouse.

With a population of 300, this small village lies roughly 45 minutes south of Calgary in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Longview is probably best known for the beef jerky that they produce, but the Longview Steakhouse is working to change that. My understanding is they are run by a Moroccan family with two classically trained chefs, but i’ve never been able to confirm it. However, the quality of the preparation and plating speak to some excellent skills.

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The structure is not much to look at – very nondescript. In fact, the first time i went, I found it difficult to discern from the surrounding buildings. The interior isn’t much either to be honest. It is clean, simple and straightforward though.

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Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse – Calgary, AB


Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
294-115 9 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 246-3636

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while, as it never seems to be the right time to bring it up, but i’ve decided to bite the bullet and post it. Ruth’s Chris. I’ve been called a traitor for eating here. By my best friend no less. Ruth’s Chris, in my opinion, is one of the most controversial restaurants in Alberta. In the middle of Canadian Beef country, stands this iconic US chain serving…USDA Prime Beef? Regional protectionism aside, you have to admit that you’d be surprised if there was a place trying to serve Canadian beef in Texas. Other than the thought of oil dollars and population expansion in Alberta, i’m not sure why they ventured into Alberta, but it makes for interesting discussion that they did.

Ruth’s Chris was founded in New Orleans, and has expanded into a global empire of “fine dining steakhouses”. They sell themselves on two key things – the temperature that they cook their steaks at (1800 F), and the corn-fed, US beef that they serve.  They have a standardized, high end look, and pride themselves on their service, the decor, as well as high quality beef.  The prices certainly match the image. Service is designed to be high end – but it has a tendency to be a bit overbearing. Especially the sneer when tap water is ordered.  A little more laid back would be appreciated on my part.

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In terms of a menu, it’s all classic steakhouse. Big meaty appetizers and salads, beef entrees, and the obligatory entrees for those who don’t eat beef (seafood, lamb, chicken, veg option). I havent looked, but i would guess they would have cheesecake and creme brulee on the dessert menu.

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Capri Pizza and Steakhouse – Calgary, AB


Capri Pizza and Steakhouse
1704 Edmonton Trail NE
Calgary, AB
(403) 276-8918

You see them everywhere – the ubiquitous steak and pizza joint. They dot strip malls and store fronts all around your city, and it’s likely you’ve never eaten at most of them. After all, they’re all the same right? Tacky decor, plain beef and decent pizza for inflated prices, other than the guaranteed steak sandwich special on some night of the week when things are decidedly all too quiet, and the VLT’s are the only action in the house. Mediocre food being passed off as fine dining. Why would you bother – been to one, been to them all.

Capri Pizza and Steakhouse, from the outside, is one of those places. On the corner of the TransCanada and Edmonton Trail, this institution has been around since 1976. One of those places that you always drive by, but never been into. And somehow, are always busy. They serve garlic bread with every order, prime rib is always the special, and they grill your meat on an indoor grill where you can watch.

In order to appropriately evaluate Capri, there are several important factors you have to weigh. FIrst and foremost, is the beef. Serving Alberta beef of no discernable marbling, it does taste pretty good charbroiled. Definitely wet aged, most cuts are fairly generous, tender, with a reasonable flavour. A bit under seasoned, the beef is still otherwise ok.

Second is the sides. With each steak comes garlic toast, your choice of potato, and some veg. All good classic steakhouse sides. Sides usually (not in this case), taste better than the meat itself. These sides were decent.

Lastly is the price. When you’re paying for ok beef, and decent sides, what you want are decent prices. 16oz T-bone is $23.75. 12oz NY Strip is $23.75. 15oz sirloin: $22.75. Filet – 8oz, 24.75. You determine for yourself if this is a decent price or not.

Put it this way – i’m not sure I would ever go back. There was nothing wrong with Capri, and the steak was even pretty decent. The Prime Rib was tremendously underseasoned and underwhelming, but the T-bone was pretty good. The sides are fine. The service is fine. The utilitarian decor is fine. The prices are fine. Everything is fine. But that’s not enough for me to spend my hard earned dollars there. I’ve been to a few of these kinds of places, and I really do feel like I have been to them all. And while that might be a bigger indictment of me, rather than Capri, that’s fine. I still wouldn’t go back unless I had to. Which is too bad really, because I was really hoping to have my socks blown off. And they just didn’t succeed at that.

Capri Steak & Pizza House on Urbanspoon