As nice as trendy, no reservations, “our menu changes daily” type restaurants can be, sometimes it’s nice to dress up a bit, feel a little fancy and indulge.
Whether you’re taking someone out for an important business dinner or just want to celebrate a special occasion and have a little extra coinage to spare, here are 10 impressive spots to try across the country.
Hy’s Steakhouse: Beef Wellington
295 York (Winnipeg, MB)
Winnipeg’s premier steakhouse is a great place to visit if you’re looking for more of a proper lunch or dinner. When it comes to the mains, there are the usual suspects like New York strips et al, but make sure to start with a few of Jesse Friesen’s fun, Asian-inspired appetizers, like the Korean-style short ribs or tempura broccolini.
Cut Steakhouse (Halifax, NS)
Before you even start with the full, meaty experience at Cut, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their abundance of craft cocktails, especially the ones using pisco, liquor that you definitely won’t find being used in every Canadian city just yet.
Go big and rich with some seared foie gras to start or a gigantic chilled seafood tower if you’re willing to get a little messy. If you’re into sharing your steak, the 22 ounce bone-in rib eye should do just fine.
The Shore Club: Steak
Gotham Steakhouse (Vancouver, BC)
Typically dubbed as Vancouver’s top steakhouse, Gotham is just coming on its 20th anniversary in the food scene. No easy feat, considering how many restaurants have opened (and closed) their doors during that time.
Combine oysters Rockefeller, Porterhouse steaks and a wine list that’s longer and more interesting to flip through than 50 Shades of Grey, and you know you’re in for a memorable steak experience.
Hy’s Steakhouse (Calgary, AB)
Some of the Hy’s in Canada are in need of a bit of a face lift, but Calgary’s location right downtown on Stephen Avenue (which reopened last year) is looking more Don Draper-approved than most steakhouses in the country.
The steak tartare is arguably the most classic way to start a meal here, swiftly followed by having a Caesar salad made tableside for you. Next up: the chateaubriand for two. So, grab a date and make it happen.
Michael’s on Simcoe (Toronto, ON)
Outside of the standard line-up of dry-aged meats available on the menu, Michael’s also offers Japanese Kobe beef. Truly the largest “splurge” to be found on this list, seeing as a piece of a heritage breed like that is going to cost you around $22 an ounce. That being said, Kobe beef has a beautiful melt-in-your-mouth texture that most types of beef can’t seem to replicate. Savour each bite and get your money’s worth.
Moishes (Montreal, QC)
This classic dining destination is all about proper service in a comfy atmosphere. Have your pick of filet mignons, rib steaks and other dry-aged cuts for the main event. It’s hard to be in Quebec and not get your poutine fix, so try Moishes’ $25 spin on the traditional with chunks of tender beef.
On a side note, turning 77 years old this year makes this Montreal institution one of the oldest steakhouses in the country. Being open for that long, you’ve got to be doing something right!
ONE11 Chophouse (St. John’s, NFLD)
Visitors at this restaurant in St. John’s might enjoy some of the P.E.I. beef cuts on the menu (although you’ll find Alberta and Ontario cuts, as well), seeing as this meat doesn’t make its way west very often.
If you aren’t feeling overly carnivorous, try One11’s take on a Newfoundland staple: pan-seared cod with salt beef, confit potatoes, mustard pickle puree, cabbage and gravy.
The Shore Club (Ottawa and Toronto, ON)
This elegant restaurant, found in Toronto and Ottawa, somewhat blurs the lines between a seafood restaurant and a traditional steakhouse, offering dishes like scallop and prawn ceviche or vanilla-battered prawns on one hand, and wedge salad, New York strips and Porterhouses on the other. Then let your inner kid finish off dinner by enjoying a banana split for two.
Vintage Chophouse (Calgary, AB)
In the heart of steak country, it’s hard to pick a place that does best with Alberta beef, but most Calgarians would award Vintage this accolade. Naturally, they’ve got all of the cuts you could ask for, including a gigantic 32-ounce prime rib chop. But this place knows that a steakhouse is only as good as its side dishes. Try the truffled mac ‘n cheese or the lobster mashed potatoes and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Last but not least, you can’t walk out of Vintage without having their spin on Baked Alaska. It’s old school dessert at its best.
Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.