Monday, June 17, 2013

Fat $12 8oz steaks at the Hamilton Street Grill

Hamilton Street Grill on UrbanspoonI saw the Hamilton Street Grill had it's annual steak special (this year it is 8 oz Certified Angus for $12), and I'm not sure what came over me, but I invited our dining group, the Food Bloggers Meetup, to try it out last Saturday... Completely forgetting that I was done with steaks ever since Black + Blue.

According to our server, it's been an 8-year tradition, and each year the price was inched up by one dollar... Till it got too much, so this year they reset it down to $12.

When I was seated, I was asked if I wanted a drink. Ever hopeful, I inquired if they had fresh-squeezed juice. It turned out, YES! they did. Orange and grapefruit were available. I went with orange. The server came back with a smallish tall glass (that is, skinnier than a typical beer glass) of orange juice that looked suspiciously cloudy and yellowish. She said they didn't have oranges, so would Tropicana do?
Honestly, I was annoyed. I specifically asked for freshly squeezed juice, and the server said it was available. I would have preferred to be told they were out of oranges, and I could have opted for grapefruit or just cancelled my order. But now the drink was poured, and if I sent it back, it would have been wasted.
Long story short, I accepted it. $3 and one point off for the Hamilton Street Grill.

It was a sunny Saturday evening and we were seated just inside the patio. It was still open-air, and overall a pleasant place to sit, but it might have contributed to our food cooling down quite quickly. Not a complaint but more of being aware there might be a tradeoff between a view or food that stays hotter slightly longer.

Here's how the rest of the dinner turned out:

Bread and Bacon Butter
  • Complimentary WARM bread plus suspiciously brown butter which turned out to have a good aroma and flavour of bacon.
  • That bacon butter is good! Even if you don't want too much bread or any bread at all, just scoop up a bit of the butter to taste.
  • It's nice to see some restaurants still doing the bread basket tradition, and happily the bread was at least warm. Nothing special to the bread. It was tender and probably baked earlier that day.
  • Ordering steak? Go easy with the bread. They are quite generous with it, but you don't have to force it all down. Just try some of that bacon butter.
Garlic Prawns ($12) Pan-seared with lemon garlic butter and garlic bread
  • This was pretty decent. Could have used a spoon to get at the chopped up tomato and other bits that were apparetly sauteed into the butter as well.
  • The thin slices of garlic bread were also quite good. Strong flavour of butter and garlic without too much of either.
  • The prawns were not huge, but a decent size. In any case, you are not getting a fixed number of prawns, but (according to our waitress) prawns by weight. We got maybe 9 prawns.
8 oz Certified Angus Steak ($12)
  • The steak special running the entire month of June.
  • It's a compact, thick (over 1 inch thick) cut, which ended up being problematic. I think we all asked for medium rare, and once you get to the centre, it was deep red and it looked outright raw. I sent my remaining portion back to the kitchen to be re-cooked, and when it came back (which didn't take too long) it was properly medium rare. I recommend that instead of toughing through any undercooked portion or leaving it uneaten, just ask for it to be cooked again.
    • I'm not really going to complain about this at it was only $12. I do wonder why they didn't opt for a thinner cut, though.
  • My steak was room temperature when it initially came. We were a party of 7 and we all had the steak special, so if your party is larger than, say, four persons, I think it's going to be tricky for the kitchen to coordinate everyone's steak to come out at the same time and hot.
  • The June special menu also comes with optional sides for about $5 each. Whether they are a a good value or not can be hit or miss.
    • One person in our party ordered the $5 Hoisin Prawns and she got a skewer of just three largish prawns.
    • Someone else ordered the $5 Sauteed Mushrooms and got a mound of mushrooms almost bigger than his steak.
  • On the plate are green beans, carrots, and mashed potato in the most boring presentation possible that makes it look like you're eating at some mom and pop hole in the wall rather than Yaletown. But for $12, it's hard to complain.
    • You can swap the mashed potato for fries or more veggies, but honestly it's really decent mashed potato. Very buttery. If only they had combined their bacon butter into it...
  • There were complaints about too much tendon or too much fat, so it's possible that there's a certain amount of luck involved in exactly what you get.
Gingerbread Pudding ($8)
  • Their signature dessert. They didn't mess it up this time (and in my various experiences at the Hamilton Street Grill, they have goofed it up before). It came very warm and perhaps slightly overly generous with the delicious caramel sauce.
  • Highly recommended that you try it at least once to see if it will wow you. Even if it doesn't, it's a solid dessert though on the sweet side.
  • It's a good portion for $8, considering it also comes with two scoops of ice cream (ginger and pumpkin, if I remember correctly).
Crème Brûlée ($6?)
  • Nothing fancy here, no fancy ingredients -- just a simple, sweet, and delicious execution of the classic dessert. Can't go wrong with this for dessert.
  • Uses the smaller width but deep dish, so you get less caramelized top.

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