Monday, March 23, 2015

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar : Alberni Street Location

I am a fairly picky and an indecisive individual, and there is only one other person that I know of who is pickier and more indecisive than me. It was also her birthday which meant that she had ever right to be pickier than usual! Her birthday evening was already all set (literally planned half a year in advance…) and we were not going to have a celebratory lunch, but we decided to grab a bite after finishing a run on the seawall.

Like every The Keg establishment, the restaurant has a modern atmosphere and features a high ceiling, luxurious velour and/or leather booth seating arrangements, and dim lighting. Out of countless visits to The Keg ever since I was a child however, this is the first time the hostess opened the door for me! Perhaps because we visited for lunch, no one else was at the front of the restaurant, or the staff is well trained at the Alberni Street location.

FAMOUS KEG CAESAR, "Polar Ice Vodka, Caesar mix, Tabasco and Worcestershire" ($7.00).
Rating: 1/5.
The Keg's Caesars are usually above average, but this one is truly disappointing. The Caesar is really tart, the drink lacks spice and the clamato tastes very watery.

BRAMBLE, "Beefeater 24 gin, Cassis, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and finished with fresh blackberries" ($10.50).
Rating: 2.5/5.
Trying the Bramble for the first time because I wanted a drink with blackberries, it is fairly strong. There is also a hint of sweetness and the drink remained cold for a pretty long time due to the plentiful amount of ice cubes. The blackberries are not fresh though and are frozen.

Having The Keg's table bread for lunch for the first time, I am surprised at how fresh it tastes. The bread is very easy to tear, has a light crispy crust and an extremely soft crumb. If comparing the bread to my previous visits, I notice the bread tastes harder and the crust is chewier during dinner services.

LOBSTER BISQUE, "Smooth, creamy decadence with hints of Atlantic lobster throughout" ($11.00).
Rating: 2/5.
From the Winter Grill menu, the bisque has a creamy consistency and a mild lobster flavour in the broth. There is no hint of cognac or sherry though and the bisque is very simple. However, there is an overwhelmingly odd fishy flavour. The fishy flavour is stronger than the taste of the lobster too.

MUSHROOMS NEPTUNE, "Stuffed with crab and cream cheese" ($10.00).
Rating: 3.5/5.
Since we were here for lunch rather than dinner, we decided to go for a light meal and order a soup each instead of two appetizers. But unfortunately our server accidentally punched in the Mushrooms Neptune instead of the Wild Mushroom Soup. I was disappointed because I wanted to order the Shrimp Cocktail too because it is a really good value at The Keg compared to Hy's or Gotham's, but I passed because we would have had too much food. Better Shrimp Cocktail than Mushrooms Neptune too...

We were given the option of waiting for the soup and our server was genuinely apologetic, but we decided to keep the appetizer since it was already made. The manager also dropped by half way through our lunch and mentioned that she would take care of the appetizer.

The mushrooms are stuffed with crab meat and are pipped with a cream cheese filling. Usually I find the cream cheese a bit overwhelming but this time around the flavours are well balanced. It sounds a bit ridiculous because The Keg is a chain restaurant and most of the time I find the cream cheese filling overwhelming… but you never know. We did not finish a couple of the mushrooms too because we needed to save our stomachs for the steaks! I had no shame asking for the bread to be packed up though because I have always liked them; soft, pillowy and slightly sweet. On one visit, I was really upset because I was saving the bread for last and the server took it away LOL.

BAKED BRIE, "With basil pesto, red pepper jelly and crostini" ($11.00).
Rating: 3/5.
I still miss The Keg's Baked Goat Cheese, but the Baked Brie will do. The jelly tastes sweet and there is a bit of a kick from the pepper. As for the basil pesto, it tastes slightly salty and accommodates the brie very well. The pesto also tastes refreshing. The accompanying crostini are also okay, but I would have liked them a bit crispier.

18oz KANSAS CITY STRIP, "Tender bone-in New York strip loin perfectly grilled and full of flavour" ($36.00).
Rating: 4/5.
Ohohoho… now onto the juicy entrees! Well, starting with the vegetables, these are the worst ones I have ever had at The Keg. The vegetables are luke warm, soggy, watery and overcooked. Honest to truth, the vegetables are comparable to ABC HK Cafe's and taste like they have been sitting in luke warm water. Even the asparagus tastes soggy and watery. The steak on the other hand, is one of the best cuts I have had at The Keg. The Kansas City Strip is only available on their Winter Grill Menu.

The steak has a really good crispy crust with lots of char flavour, and I love running the fork across to hear that sound. Moreover, the steak is well marbled, juicy and very well seasoned. I enjoy The Keg's seasoning because it tastes flavourful, yet not too salty. The steak is also cooked to a medium rare as requested but due to the bone, the outer portions are more on the medium well side.

8oz PRIME RIB, "Rubbed with Keg spice and slow roasted. Served with horseradish and red wine herb jus" ($23.00).
Rating: 3.5/5.
Birthday girl ordered the prime rib which is served medium rare as she requested. The steak tastes tender, juicy, delicious and very fresh. I think I like the idea of visiting The Keg for lunch instead of dinner because the prime rib tastes noticeably more "fresh" and tender. But there is noticeably less seasoning on the prime rib this time.

For her choice of side, she ordered the baked potato with sour cream and bacon. The fried onion straws are always included with The Keg's prime rib and this time around we noticed there is less batter. The straws are thinner as well as crispier too.

BILLY MINER PIE, "Mocha ice cream on a chocolate crust with hot fudge, caramel and almonds" ($6.00).
At the end of lunch and after stuffing ourselves full, we were presented with a slice of the Billy Miner Pie (a favourite dessert of ours!). The ice cream tastes softer than usual and lacks that "hard" texture. This is probably due to the kitchen having to take the time to write "Happy Birthday" in fudge. Asides from the texture, the ice cream has a light mocha flavour and the almonds provide that nice crunch and extra flavour. We really wanted to order the Brownie too but we were too full! We blamed the Mushrooms Neptune… LOL.

The Keg on Alberni Street exceeded my expectations, food and service wise (mostly because I was thinking the staff from Thurlow may have transferred to Alberni!). Our server was welcoming, attentive and professional from the moment we seated and more importantly, very humble and genuine. Furthermore, the steaks were great and I really enjoyed the bone-in New York! If anything, the entrees arrived too soon so we had to juggle some plates around (ourselves) to make room and our finished plates were not removed unless we requested.

- Great steaks
- Genuinely friendly staff
- When The Keg is consistent, they are pretty damn good
- Food and service is better than my numerous visits at the previous Dunsmuir location

- Horrible vegetables
- Drinks can be better

- Posts on The Keg at Dunsmuir, Coquitlam, Coquitlam Revisit and Burnaby

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 4/5

1121 Alberni Street Vancouver, BC V6E 1A5
Telephone (604) 685-4388
The Keg Steakhouse + Bar on Urbanspoon

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