We decided to have lunch at Black & Blue, the classic steakhouse member of the Glowbal Group of restaurants. We made reservations, and upon arrival, were asked if we cared to dine in the main room or on the roof. We opted for the roof.
The roof was covered on this particular day (it was a cloudy day), but the roof was quite toasty warm from all the fire places. This place would be fabulous on a clear summer night.
We started with a spinach salad
This is spinach leaves tossed in a garlickly dijon vinaigrette with charred onions, sliced mushrooms, cubed double smoked bacon, parmesan cheese, and topped with crispy matchstick potatoes. This is a good salad. The spinach was crispy and fresh, the bacon was smoky and savory, the matchstick fries were very crispy, and the dressing was savoury from the parmesan with a slight tang. The dressing was perhaps a little too salty for my liking.
We knew the portions at B&B were pretty generous and felt sure that one burger platter was enough for both of us, so we arranged for the kitchen to split our main into two plates, which they were more than happy to do. This was a large (about 1/3 pound) ground beef patty grilled to well-done, served on a toasted sesame bun, topped with lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced pickles, a crispy battered onion ring, a slice of aged cheddar, mayonnaise and steak sauce. It’s served with a green salad and some crispy french fries.
This is a really good burger. In spite of the well-done finish (not a criticism of the restaurant here, I’m pretty sure that Health Canada requires restaurants to serve hamburger meat be cooked to well-done), it was still juicy with lots of meat flavor. The salad was pretty good, light and fresh, tangy from the vinaigrette. And the fries were excellent, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, savory from the seasoning salt.
When we arrived and were seated, we showed the server a Glowbal Group voucher for a complimentary amuse-bouche. The server seemed confused and asked the floor manager about it (I gather the restaurant chain no longer offers these things). The server returned and offered us a complimentary dessert, which we were happy to accept.
Our dessert was butter cake with caramel sauce
This is a very large serving of yellow cake, topped with a tuile and a dollop of whipped cream, drizzled with warm caramel sauce and sprinkled with crunchy toffee bits. This was an incredible cake. It was sweet, rich and moist and very buttery on the inside, lightly crunchy on the edges. The caramel sauce was sweet and creamy, and the toffee bits added a little crunch. The whipped cream added some additional creaminess. This was also a huge serving. It was big enough for three people, but we finished it off (just the two of us) because it was soo gooood.
Our server was excellent: attentive, smiling and pleasant, eager to please.
The roof top dining lounge is beautiful. It’s open and airy and comfortable, if a tad warm during the daytime (from all the fireplaces).
This place is worth a return visit for dinner.
Update Dec 2015:
I purchased an online voucher for Black and Blue, for a prime rib dinner. It looked like a really good deal, but the catch being, it’s only valid on Sunday nights, and it expired at the end of the calendar year.
Well I let the voucher sit and forgot about it until late November, and suddenly there were only 4 calendar days left on which to use the voucher. Well now, the restaurant was fully booked for the month of November, except for very late seatings at 8:30 or 9:00 pm.
We arrived at 8:15 for our 8:30 reservation, and the house was packed.
This brings up a curious paradox. The restaurant has a lot of less-than-glowing reviews. Yet despite that, and despite a fairly high price point, they manage to stay busy on most nights.
So how is this possible? It is because of vouchers like ours that keeps people coming in? Is it that the restaurant is not nearly as bad as the reviews would suggest? Is it that the reviewers have expectations that are too high? Or is there a quality control issue where some diners have a much better experience than others? Perhaps a combination of the above?
We were offered the regular menu and the drink menu, but since we were using the voucher, it’s a set menu, and given the holiday season overindulgence of the last few weeks, we decided to stick with just the basic set menu. This started with a flute of prosecco.
Next came a shared caesar salad.
This is romaine lettuce leaves, dressed in a creamy ceasar with lots of shaved parmesan cheese, with large crunchy garlicky croutons. This was a pretty good salad, but perhaps a little more heavily dressed than I like it. And the romaine leaves were a little limp, perhaps indicating that this salad was not made-to-order.
Next came the prime rib entree.
This is dry aged prime rib, slow roasted to a medium rare, served with mashed potatoes, a yorkshire pudding, and some vegetables (that consisted of brocolli and roasted beets). The prime rib was fabulous. It was tender, savory and meaty, and done to the medium-rare that I requested. The sides were less impressive. The mashed potatoes were okay. The beets and the broccoli were like a garnish than a side dish (the portion was so small). And the yorkshire pudding was a little disappointing. It was cold, and a little hard, and I’m guessing it was made in a large batch several hours earlier.
Along with the prime rib came a side dish of snow crab legs with a cup of drawn butter.
It’s been a long time since i ate crab that was prepared so simply. I’m accustomed to crab served cantonese style, usually stir fried with garlic, onions, scallions and ginger, seasoned with a little soy. Here the flavors are straight and uncomplicated. It’s a nice change for me, and I did enjoy it. The crab was cooked to the right done-ness, lightly salty from the sea, with the butter adding some richness.
We finished with a shared butter cake.
This is a buttery yellow cake, rich and heavy, topped with a large dollop of whipped cream and a tuile of caramel, served over creme anglaise and fresh berries. The presentation is a little different from the previous visit. The fruit and the creme anglaise are new, and gone is the drizzle of caramel sauce. This is a smaller serving than our previous visit, but I’m inclined to think that our previous experience was an error, I suspect that was meant for another (larger) table of guests than us.
This was a good meal and a decent deal (based on the voucher price). The stars of the meal, were the stars, but the supporting cast was not to the same standard.
Our server was delightful and pleasant, and quite attentive and eager to serve.