Sherman's Food Adventures: Elisa Steakhouse

Elisa Steakhouse

For some, it might come as a surprise there is yet another high-end steakhouse setting up shop in Vancouver.  For others, it is about time we had more competition.  In reality, we can either say we have too many or too few steakhouses.  They essentially consist of Gotham, Black & Blue, Hy's, The Victor, Atlas, Chop, Joe Fortes, Glowbal, Carvers and CPrime.  I've been to them all and I would say only a handful are truly good.  Now the Top Table Group has thrown their hat into the ring with Elisa across from Blue Water in the former Milestone's location. We ended up going there for my birthday dinner.

We ended up sharing 6 appies including the Classic Beef Tartare with caramelized shallot aioli, crunchy onions, watercress and grilled bread.  This didn't look very interesting, but it couldn't be further from the truth.  The beef was buttery tender and well-seasoned.  There was plenty of aromatics going on where the shallot aioli was the proverbial icing on the cake as it provided a creamy sweetness.  This went well with the beef and the nutty grilled bread.  Something along the same lines was the Hand-Cut Beef Carpaccio with Harry’s bar sauce, arugula, pecorino al tartufo and burgundy truffle.  Thin and soft, the beef carpaccio retained a natural meatiness to go with the ample creamy sauce.  The classic earthiness from the truffle combined with the salty cheese created familiar flavours.

The best appie we had hands down was the Alaskan King Crab ‘robata style’ grilled over burning coals with rayu (chick pea, coriander and olive oil sauce).  Sure, it wasn't very big and yes it was pretty pricey at $30.00, but for us, it was well-worth it.  The crab was fluffy with a springy rebound.  It was naturally sweet with its classic brininess as well as a noted smokiness.  This was further amped by the Japanese chili sauce on top which was just spicy enough. The creamy chick pea puree underneath was surprisingly complimentary with an appealing earthiness.  Nipping at the crab's heels (do they have heels?), the Wood-Grilled New Bedford Scallops were equally good.   They were beautifully charred where the doneness was perfect.  They were buttery soft and sweet while accented excellently by the bright Thai-Style Salsa (tomatoes, lime, chili and cilantro).

Not to be outdone, the Cured Hamachi was beautifully plated and equally delicious.  It consisted of preserved lemon, coriander and soba, celery leaves and micro cilantro and thyme olive oil.  The buttery hamachi was so good on its own - very high quality and fresh.  But add in the acidity, smooth aromatic olive oil and the pronounced cilantro/coriander kick, there was a wealth of flavour to go with the natural sweetness.  We ended up getting a salad to fulfill our vegetable quota in the Dinosaur Kale Salad sporting quinoa, radish, fennel, marcona almonds, crispy garlic bread crumbs, florence fennel and toscano pecorino.  Nicely plated, the kale was tender while still retaining a bite.  Beyond the initial tanginess of the dressing, the fennel came through in the background.  Texturally, the crunchy bread crumbs and almonds added a robustness to the salad.

Onto our mains, my parents shared the Whole Roasted 3.5 Pound Chicken.  Before you literally get out the knives and carve up their decision, hear me out.  This was actually one of our favourite dishes of the night.  No joke.  I normally stay far away from chicken at restaurants, however, you won't be disappointed in this one.  First of all, it was absolutely huge, more than enough for 2 people.  Secondly, the whole thing was downright juicy including the breast meat.  Most of the skin was well-rendered with some crispy portions.  When dipped into the lemon, garlic, thyme, tarragon and burgundy truffle roasting jus, the chicken was absolutely #foodgasm worthy.  Subtle flavours, but impactful with aromatics and depth.  Yes, come for the steak and also order the chicken.  Trust me.

If there was one dish we were indifferent about, it would've been the Potato Gnocchi.  There was nothing inherently wrong with the gnocchi since they were fluffy with a light rebound.  The problem was with the black Tuscan Kale sauce.  It was far too dominant and frankly, too much of it.  It muddled up the flavours and overwhelmed the delicate gnocchi.  We did enjoy the ultra crunchy sourdough croutons as it added a needed textural contrast to the soft and softer.  My son went for Jacob's Ladder which was a large piece of red-wine braised Certified Angus Reserve beef short rib.  Some parts of the exterior were a bit chewy, but the rest of it was super tender and moist.  The braising liquid penetrated the meat completely creating a wealth of rich flavour and meatiness. 

For myself, I originally ordered the Holstein Dairy Cow bone-in rib eye, but they served me a Holstein Dairy Cow 10 oz Striploin instead.  Well, they comped it, so no harm, no foul.  This was prepared a perfect medium-rare and was evenly cooked on both sides.  The was a caramelized char and enough seasoning (including a red wine reduction) for impact without being salty.  What I noticed first was how beef the steak tasted.  There was a background funkiness that was appealing and rich.  Wonderful steak.  Viv decided on the Brant Lake Farm 6 oz. Wagyu Flat Iron which was more rare than medium-rare.  However, that wasn't a big deal it was buttery and tender.  Of course by virtue of being a flat iron steak, it was certainly meatier in texture.  There was obviously a rich meatiness and fatiness to the meat which was delicious.

We decided to add 5 sides including 3x Cooked Fries, Brussels Sprouts, Mushroom Risotto with black truffle, Onion Rings and Wood-Grilled Broccolini.  By far, the best of the bunch was the risotto.  The portion size was big enough as a main.  Best of all, the Acquerello Carnaroli rice was perfectly chewy, cheesy and seasoned.  The ample amount of mushrooms added texture and earthiness while the truffle did its thing (extra cost).  Fries were good being crispy as well as the onion rings.  They weren't greasy and the buttermilk dressing went well with not only the onion rings, the fries were good in them too.  Loved the balsamic vinegar and the chili flakes with the broccolini as it really made something usually bland into something that was a flavour bomb.  Brussels sprouts were good where they weren't overdone and of course tasty due to the brown butter and parm.

Onto to dessert (which was also comped), we had the Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts with chocolate whisky toffee sauce.  Yes, these didn't look like much, but texturally, they were a lot softer than they appeared.  One bite and the fluffiness and almost custard-like middle meant these were like little clouds of joy.  The smoky and carmelized toffee sauce was not as sweet as it sounded, which was a plus in our books.  Also on the table, the Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake was also on point.  It was soft and fluffy with a liquid centre of semi-sweet and slightly bitter chocolate.  It was accompanied by passion fruit, hazelnut crunch, cocoa nib tuile and salted caramel ice cream.  The necessary ingredient was the passionfruit as it added a refreshing tanginess.  Crunch was provided by the rest.

The prettiest dessert was the Baked Alaska with caramelized banana rum ice cream, browned butter cake, peanut butter cremeux, banana puree and candied peanuts.  At first, we thought the ice cream was too sweet, but it was really the torched meringue.  The hard and really cold ice cream was aromatic and purposefully sweet.  Loved the crunchy candied peanuts as well as the bruleed bananas.  Although pretty, I would say the other desserts were better.  But overall, the food at Elisa was well-prepared and tasty.  Sure, it isn't cheap, but completely in-line with direct competitors.  I would put Elisa far up the list amongst the steakhouses in Vancouver.

The Good:
- Gorgeous room
- Attentive service
- Food is generally on point

The Bad:
- Expensive, but par for the course
- Messed up my order, but made up for it


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