Sherman's Food Adventures: Char 631

Char 631

There I was...  Looking at the online coupon for Char 631 Steakhouse.  Appeared to be a decent deal, but the place didn't look anything like a steakhouse.  Located in the Ramada Inn on Lougheed in Coquitlam, it was somewhat close to us...  Oh fine, why not?  I impulsively bought 2 coupons good for 2 appies, 4 entrees and 2 desserts for $39.00 each.  Of note, it was a frustrating exercise to make a reservation as I never got a reply via email as well as no one answering the phone on 3 occasions.

Upon looking at their regular menu, it was rather confusing to me that the place is called a "steakhouse".  With over 60% of the menu not consisting of steak, it made us wonder why the place was named as such...  Whatever, we started with 2 appies including the Calamari and Spinach & Artichoke Dip.  Fried too long and excessively chewy, the calamari was not good. On the other hand, it as seasoned decently though.  As for the dip, it was cheesy, but watery at the same time.  Taste-wise, it was well-seasoned, but I guess it had something to do with the salty store-bought Doritos as well.  We had to ask for more because the amount on the plate wasn't remotely enough for the dip.

For the kiddies, they couldn't get the deal because only 2 coupons per table...  Hence, my son went for the Classic Beef Burger with cheddar and bacon.  Interestingly, the item we pegged as the least interesting was the best dish of the night.  The thick burger patty was relatively moist while well-seasoned.  The bacon was prepared correctly, but there was too much spicy aioli for his tastes.  Fries were pretty generic being mildly crispy.  My daughter ended up stealing my mom's Salmon, so she traded her Braised Lamb Shank.  It was a pretty large portion of tender and moist meat.  It was spiced with a Malay sauce, but it tasted more like Indian curry.  It was somewhat spicy and did have impact.  However, since the lamb shank had no inherent seasoning of its own, there was a disconnect between the sauce and the meat.

We had only 3 options for mains, so there were duplicates including 2 orders of Salmon with lemon risotto.  As clearly evidenced in the picture, the salmon was cooked far too fast at too high of a temperature (lots of albumin).  Subsequently, it was dry and moreover, underseasoned as well.  The risotto was nicely tart, but woefully overdone being really mushy.  I convinced Viv to try the Cornish Game Hen rather than the salmon and it was marginally better.  We liked how the skin was completely rendered and crispy.  On the other hand, we didn't enjoy the dry underseasoned meat (especially the white meat).  The sauce was actually decently flavourful, but there was too much wine aftertaste.

For myself, I had the Sirloin Steak with chimichurri sauce.  It was thin-cut resembling a minute steak.  As such, the meat was only medium-rare in spots.  It wasn't as if the meat was chewy, but it was not particularly tender either.  Interestingly, it was so thin, they couldn't even criss-cross the grill marks.  Disturbingly pale, the chimichurri was a bit salty and a touch garlicky ending off with a tang.  Even with that, it didn't have much impact. At the very least, the veggies were not overcooked, but then again, some where pretty raw.  The mashed potatoes were terrible being pasty and thick.

For dessert, we shared the Chocolate Cake and Strawberry Cheesecake.  These too forever to come out.  I guess it had something to do with the warm and melty chocolate cake.  Yet, unlike a molten lava cake, this ate like a severely undercooked chocolate cookie.  It wasn't too sweet though.  As for the cheesecake, it was pretty standard, yet serviceable with a definite cream cheesiness.  It wasn't overly sweet while the strawberry glaze was just right.  So it comes as no surprise we were not particularly impressed with our meal at Char 631, even with the coupons.  They are definitely a pretender when it comes to steakhouses, where the Keg would blow it out of the water.  Furthermore, our meal took 2.5 hours to complete as they were understaffed in the kitchen and the front-of-the-house.

The Good:
- Friendly people, but under-staffed
- Portions are decent

The Bad:
- Food is sub-par
- Food took too long to come out