Sherman's Food Adventures: Stake (at the Hard Rock Casino)

Stake (at the Hard Rock Casino)

With a name like Stake, one could only assume one of 2 things - either it is Dracula's worst nightmare or it is a play on words regarding grilled beef.  Well, in reality, neither is true these days, especially after the re-branding of the Boulevard Casino, now known as the Hard Rock Casino.  Granted, I never had the urge to visit the place before receiving a recent invitation.  Why?  Well, the reviews were horrible and humbly confirmed by new Executive Chef Matthew Richmond (formerly of the Westin Grand).  Yup, those reviews were bang on as the food was not very good.  Now with the backing of the Hard Rock, there has been a revamp and a commitment to sourcing out local ingredients.

With that in mind, Miss Y and myself headed out to nearby Coquitlam (yes, we live in the burbs) to check the place out.  We began with the Beet Trio featuring candy cane, red and golden beets, blueberry goat cheese mousse, pea greens, walnut wafer and golden beet dressing.  At first, the blue goat cheese threw me off due to its strange colour.  But it tasted a whole lot better than it looked with a light salty creaminess and the subtle sweetness of the blueberries.  The beets were lightly pickled which provided a zing in addition to its inherent Earthiness.  Interestingly, the walnut wafer was not just a garnish as it was lightly crispy, nutty and savoury.  Next up was Stake's Signature Smoked Crispy Pork Belly with green pea puree, butter braised white aspargus, tomato confit and apple bourbon jus.  The Sakura pork belly exhibited a light smoke while the crackling was nicely rendered and crispy.  There was a natural pork flavour with only a light brine.  The meat itself was succulent while not exactly melt-in-my-mouth since most of the fat was rendered. I found the asparagus to be tender while still firm while the tomato to be plump and tart.

Moving on, we were presented with the Pacific Halibut with King oyster mushrooms, braised in abalone sauce, preserved olive, green beans, eggplant and wilted pea greens.  Although the flaky halibut sported a golden sear, the fish itself was overdone, hence being dry.  The fish was not seasoned very much, but that didn't matter as the rest of the dish featured far too much sodium.  The preserved olives were extremely salty and took over the dish.  We did enjoy the mushrooms though as they were plump and infused with a good amount of aromatic and salty abalone sauce.  Onto a vegetarian option, we were served the Pan-Seared Truffle Polenta with leek fondue, ratatouille, thyme glazed portabella and garlic cream. Believe it or not, this was one of my favourite dishes of the night.  Well, the fact that I personally love polenta didn't hurt either.  However, it was beautifully seared with a golden brown crispy exterior that yielded a fluffy and appealingly salty Parmesan spiked interior.  The ratatouille underneath was vibrant and fresh.

Finally, we made it to the red meat dish being the 6 oz. Seared Beef Tenderloin with Golden Ears Emmental fondant potato, glazed beets, crisp leek, truffle foam and jus.  As illustrated in the picture, the tenderloin was prepared a beautiful medium-rare sporting a well-seared exterior.  Suffice to say, the meat was buttery soft while accented by the red wine jus.  As for the foam, I didn't notice much truffle or impact.  The tender potatoes were spiked with cheesiness by the slightly browned Emmental.  For dessert, we had the Chocolate Marquise with Irish cream Anglaise, chocolate pearls and raspberry coulis.  This was a creamy and rich concoction which was purposefully sweet with plenty chocolaty goodness.  I would've liked to see more bitterness at the end, but it was good nonetheless.  Overall, we enjoyed our meal despite the halibut course.  Considering the prices are at or below higher-end chain restaurants (ie. Cactus Club and Milestone's), Stake offers up another choice in the Coquitlam area.

*All food, beverages and gratuities were comped*

The Good:
- Decent eats
- Well-priced
- Tastefully appointed decor

The Bad:
- Somehow, the exterior doesn't look all that inviting
- Halibut dish was overcooked and overseasoned

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