So how was I able to score an invite to the pre-launch of the new Yaletown Keg? Well, it's a bit of a long story. You can read about it in my post about the Burnaby Keg. To recap, we were in downtown a couple of months ago for our Nexus pass interviews. The interview was quite a bit shorter than we had anticipated and when we returned to our car, there was a good 3+ hours left on the ticket. Thus, we decided to give it away to the next person who happen to park in that particular lot. Turns out the person we gave the ticket to was the BC Operations Director for the Keg. He graciously presented us with a $50 gift card to the Keg as a token of his appreciation. Viv and I enjoyed a nice dinner at the Burnaby Keg and naturally I blogged about it. The parking ticket that resulted in a $50 Keg gift card became the gift that kept on giving because I was invited to the pre-launch of The Keg Yaletown. Talk about karma! So to set things straight, as part of this pre-launch, we would be donating $5.oo each to Junior Achievement BC. In addition, we were on the hook for gratuities, taxes and any beverages we consumed, albeit at 50% off the regular price. Otherwise, there was no actual "payment" for the meal.
The Yaletown Keg looks pretty unassuming from the outside with its darkened windows and brick facade. However, once inside it is a totally different story. Walls adorned with textured materials are illuminated by modern light fixtures and a raging wall of fireplaces over 2 stories high. They sacrificed quite a bit of dining space to create a high ceiling which stretches from the main floor all the way up to the top of the 3rd floor. There is a basement level reserved for some wine and a private room with a large LCD TV. There is an open rooftop dining area directly above the 3nd floor complete with its own bar. I really liked how they were able to isolate certain dining spaces in all parts of the restaurant. Therefore, it felt much more intimate than the size of the restaurant would suggest. One part of the restaurant that I felt was a bit bare was the floor to ceiling wall right behind the ground floor bar. I'm not an interior decorator, but it looked almost incomplete. The washrooms were nice; but not as impressive as the rest of the restaurant. This could be partially attributed to the limits of space afforded for the washrooms.
As part of the trial run of the restaurant, we did not have a choice of what we ate. There were pre-assigned random meals for everyone. The menu that we received included Tempura Snap Peas and Asparagus for an appetizer, Sirloin Oscar and Mushroom Balsamic Chicken as our mains and a Billy Miner Pie as our dessert. I added a Peach Mojito as a beverage and Viv had the Key Lime Martini. We had actually ordered our drinks at the bar area as we were waiting for our table. The hostess who took us to our table actually had to carry both drinks and our menus up a long flight of stairs. To make things worse, she was wearing some pretty high heels, a tight dress and once up the stairs, she had to further navigate through a narrow walkway across the whole restaurant to our table. We were amazed she didn't dropped everything because she was teetering on collapse several times. Why didn't we take the elevator? Since this was a trial run to work out all the kinks, errors were to be expected. Our entrees arrived before our appetizer and my Sirloin Oscar was missing the Bearnaise sauce. All can be forgiven because this was the FIRST time they opened up this location to customers, albeit test subjects. Everyone was trying their best to make things work and were really trying to make a good impression. Hopefully they'll iron out all the wrinkles by the grand opening date of August 10th.
So I'll talk about my Sirloin Oscar first. As you can see in the picture, there was an abundance of large scallops and shrimp adorning the top of the perfectly medium-rare sirloin. The Bearnaise was served on the side. The scallops and shrimp were cooked perfectly, thus exhibiting the desired texture. The steak was prepared as per my request of medium-rare and was quite tender. When I first laid eyes on my baked potato, I was quite taken aback. There was so much butter and cheese, I didn't want to eat it. But once I dug into the soft and fluffy potato, I was hooked. Butter can really make everything better! Viv's Mushroom Balsamic Chicken was outstanding. Smothered in a rich mushroom, garlic and balsamic sauce was a large tender chicken breast on mound of smooth mashed potatoes. This was a really rich concoction and Viv couldn't finish it. The presentation of this dish left a lot to be desired; but there was lots of food and it filled the entire plate. A good value at $16.99 considering the venue and the location.
We were a bit less enthused with the appetizer (Tempura Snap Peas & Asparagus). The positive was that there were lots of it - another good value at $6.99. However, we didn't finish it because it was too much fried goodness and the dip was extremely salty. The whole dish would have a been a bit lighter and easier to eat if they had used an authentic Japanese tempura batter. The appetizer was probably the only blip in the food because the Billy Miner Pie was delicious. It was essentially mocha ice cream on an oreo crust. It was light, flavourful and not too sweet. The roasted almond slivers added the necessary texture contrast for the dessert.
Well, what can I say? I've always liked the Keg and the Yaletown location has made me like it even more. I think they did a commendable job with the decor in creating a trendy and upscale environment. Considering the location and the venue, I believe the prices are more than reasonable if you take into account that you will have enough to eat. Like any other restaurant, the Keg isn't perfect. Some items on the menu may need to be re-evaluated, especially the appetizers. However, if you want a good steak at a reasonable price, I have no problem dining at the Keg.
- Really nice venue
- You won't starve here, good portions
- Reasonable prices
- Great steaks for the price
- Some of the appetizers need some work (ie. Tempura Snap Peas, Spinach Dip)
- Due to the limitations of the existing building, some areas are tight
- Finding parking is not fun in Yaletown unless you want to pay for valet