A good steak depends on a number of factors. The cut and aging, the feed and breed, but the atmosphere of where you’re eating matters as well. The atmosphere at any steakhouse worth its salt should be intimate and conducive to hushed conversations. If you’re visiting a steakhouse it means you are planning to indulge, so here are three steakhouses in Vancouver that will deliver.
The Hidden Gem Steakhouse: C Prime
C Prime is a bit of a hidden gem. It is located centrally, right on Burrard Street but if you’ve failed to notice it that might be because it is tucked inside the Century Plaza Hotel. As soon as you walk through the doors of C Prime you feel transported. The space is elegant with warm, moody lighting. C Prime specializes in Italian cuisine and steak under the leadership of Chef Behshad Zolnasr. Steak was the reason for my recent visit but they do make fresh pasta daily, including their seductive Uovo Raviolo.
The steak I got to try at C Prime was Holstein Dairy cow from Wisconsin. Dairy cow is a special beef preferred by the likes of Chef Magnus Nilsson and Chef José Andrés. The only other place to get it in Vancouver besides C Prime is Elisa.
A Holstein cow is older and pasture-raised. The age impacts the flavour, as does the feed. The fat is especially flavourful and robust. Holstein is not as marbled as Wagyu but the ribeye, in particular, is succulently streaked with buttery, almost cheesy, grass-fed fat. With prime cuts of this quality, adding any sauce is gilding the lily but I had to try a drizzle of rich demi-glace.
Speaking of gilding the lily, C Prime’s Mac & Cheese comes topped with truffle sliced table-side. The aroma only adds further to C Prime’s romantic atmosphere. Another table-side treat comes in the form of the Tiramisu. The dessert arrives neatly contained within a plastic ring. When this ring is removed, it releases a mascarpone cream waterfall over the whole dessert.
The All Rounder: The Keg
The Keg is arguably the most accessible and approachable steakhouse on this list but that makes it no less iconic. In fact, the Keg has some beloved longtime menu items like the Mushrooms Neptune and the Billy Miner Pie. More importantly, they have Filet Mignon and Prime Rib on the menu alongside more casual options like Loaded Nachos and the Keg Burger. They even outline steak serving temperatures so there is no confusion when it comes to getting your steak cooked just the way you like it.
Another clever feature of the Keg’s menu is the Keg Classics. Guests choose one of six different beef cuts which come with sautéed field mushrooms and an accompaniment. The Twice Baked Potato with bacon bits is fantastic and the garlic mash is also delicious.
The Keg first opened in North Vancouver in 1971 and now has locations across the country and in the United States. I visited the Alberni Street location and got to enjoy their stunning patio which is hidden in a bamboo forest above the hustle of downtown.
Edible Luxury: Elisa
Elisa is one of the most premium steakhouses in Vancouver. The beef served can be seen aging in-house at Luigi & Sons next door. It is meticulously sourced from the best local and international suppliers. All the steaks at Elisa are flame-grilled on the dramatic Grillworks Infierno which is at the heart of the restaurant. Elisa uses a mix of local BC birch, apple, and alder woods to stoke the flames that are undeniably eye catching. Andrew Richardson is the Executive Chef at Elisa where his primary goal is to elevate wood-fired cooking. The dry-aging enabled by the space and dedication of the team at Luigi & Sons offers Elisa the ability to age according to breed as well as cut. It also allows for the team to select and age cuts best suited for flame-grilling.
The wine program at Elisa is headed by Franco Michienzi. Not only is the beef showcased but the wine at Elisa is likewise spectacularly showcased in a glass cellar which contains over 6,000 bottles. The Keg is not the only steakhouse in town with an iconic dessert. Elisa has the Baked Alaska by Pastry Chef Rosalynn Vu. It is truly a magical dessert, with torched meringue on the outside and caramelized banana rum ice cream on the inside.
A steak dinner is a special occasion and these three steakhouses meet all of the parameters required to ensure a luxurious and satiating dining experience.