There are several nice restaurants in Vancouver that offer terrific Happy Hour specials. Black & Blue is one of them, with a selection of $5 wines and cocktails, as well as 50% off their appetizer menu. I, however, had come with a specific target in mind: the beef tartare, which wasn’t on the appetizer menu, and thus not 50% off, but which I had to try because a friend of mine had been raving about it for months.
The beef tartare (quail’s egg, red onion, brioche toast) was just okay. I liked the large chunks of beef, and the generous portion. But I think it could’ve used some more seasoning. Most of the flavour came from the small drizzle of Dijon on the side. Perhaps they were trying to showcase the beef, but I found the steak tartare a little bland. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of one disproportionately small quail’s egg on top of a mound of tartare.
While there, I also sampled the red wine sangria (brandy, grand marnier, red wine, fresh fruit), which was very tasty, and not overly sweet.
Black & Blue is part of Glowbal Group’s chain of restaurants. This particular restaurant is a three-storey classic steakhouse, specializing in prime steaks such as the Wagyu as well as Canadian and US prime. Their beef is aged 28-48 days. It’ a good thing that I uncharacteristically didn’t check urbanspoon before visiting, otherwise it would’ve been hard not to be biased – their score is an amusing 45%. I actually don’t remember the last time I visited a restaurant with such a low score. I’m not quite sure why people have their hate on for this restaurant, but just thought I’d provide fair warning since I only stopped in for happy hour, and it is a fairly expensive restaurant if you opt for dinner.
It was my first time at Black & Blue, and I liked the ambiance. I especially enjoyed the floor-to-ceiling meat display case with all the various cuts of aging beef. Service, however, was atrocious. But it was just our server, who was new to the job, that sucked. Not only was she unable to answer any questions, she didn’t seem to think that her lack of knowledge was a problem. How is answering a question with a shrug and an “I don’t know, I just started here” considered acceptable? The food came very quickly, once our order was finally taken, and the other staff were nice and helpful, so I can’t say that it’s a restaurant-wide problem, but still, I’m not impressed that even one staff member behaved so unprofessionally. Also, service is one of the issues most commonly mentioned in the poor urbanspoon reviews.
Overall, I’d come back to check out other menu offerings, especially those part of the happy hour special. I’d also like to stop by for dinner sometime since they have some old steakhouse classics that you don’t see very often like Caesar salad prepared tableside and flambés. And Black & Blue has just opened a rooftop patio – so that’s another reason for a re-visit.