This was my 2nd time at Vintage for dinner. The first time was with a girlfriend and I thought the steak and sides were really great. My boyfriend is always working out of town when I go out for dinner with friends, so I thought Vintage would be a good place to go for my birthday dinner. I had a coupon I received by email to get a free dessert for my birthday and Jay loves steaks – so I thought we’d kill two birds with one stone on my birthday.
First of all, we went on a Saturday night so it was a challenge getting a decent reservation time 4 days in advance. We got a 5:00 reservation – it was that or 7:45. We were pleasantly welcomed into an empty restaurant, but it got full pretty fast.
We first placed an order for drinks. Sadly, there were no bottles of wine less than $60. This bugs me. If you’re going to triple the price I would pay in a liquor store, you can damn well bet I’m going to pick the cheapest on the list, just for spite. This would be a restaurant worth paying a corkage fee and bringing your own wine.
The rest of our experience at Vintage was inconsistent. I’m going to break my review down into parts because I don’t know how to do it otherwise. For a ‘fancy’ well-rated place, we were really torn. Even compared to my previous visit I was disappointed. We were also reminded that we should just stick to cooking steak at home.
The service was overall friendly, but I got an odd hint of a condescending tone from our server a couple times. I didn’t like it. The server called me ‘miss’ only when he was trying to make a point. Calling me ‘miss’ didn’t make the situation any better, and in fact, I wanted to smack him.
I really think the lab coats are horrible and they actually bring the look of the establishment down a notch. They’re supposed to look like butchers coats, but regardless – they need to get rid of them.
We were done eating our appetizer long before we got our bread. We waited longer than expected to get it, but it was hot out of the oven and all tables around us got it at the same time. The bread was shaped like little balls and we got one each. It was crispy outside, but sadly it was not cooked inside (it was doughy). The butter was nicely whipped but would have been way better with herbs or garlic. In short, no one likes to eat undercooked bread.
We got 3 scallops. 3 for $19. Really? Why do restaurants think that 3 scallops for $19 is fair? They were simply pan fried, with a few niblets of bacon. And I was pretty sure they were undercooked.
We really came here for the steak. We should have each got a fillet mignon or something much smaller and individual. We got the Canada Prime Rib Chop to share. It’s a 32 oz bone in prime rib steak for $88. For the size, I could have got it for $25 at my local grocery store. The meat was seasoned well, but simply. We ordered the steak medium rare but we were pretty sure a fair amount of it was rare. It’s a really thick cut, so it’s not easy to cook properly. There was a lot of fat in this puppy and we found we were picking around the fat to get at the meat. I don’t even find this much fat when I buy prime rib to cook at home. I did mention to the server that we thought the steak was undercooked. He automatically grabbed the dish to get it re-fired. We said we would be OK eating it as is, we just wanted to mention that it wasn’t medium rare. We practically had an argument about what would make me happier – to have it re-fired or to eat it as is. For $88 I know he wanted me to be happy with it, but it was an awkward moment.
For $88 our steak came with 2 ‘classic sides’. We ordered the honey carrots, which were better than I had expected. They were not too sweet and well cooked. We were drooling over the truffle mac and cheese and the lobster mashed potatoes which are not classic sides – they’re signature sides that you’d have to upgrade to or get in addition to your classic side. We upgraded to a hybrid and created a lobster mac and cheese. First of all, it was super delicious – the best dish of the evening. The sauce was the perfect consistency – not too greasy, and the pasta was cooked perfectly. Best of all, there were actually big chunks of lobster in it. Yum! The surprise came when we got the bill. I didn’t complain about it… but we were charged $15 for the lobster mac and cheese. I had assumed we’d pay the difference – an upgrade from a classic side to a signature side should have only been an additional $5 give or take, not the full price. We would have got more bang for our buck to get the 2 classic sides included in the $88 and pay the extra $15 or $18 to get the mac and cheese as a signature side. I wasn’t impressed, but didn’t want to argue.
As I mentioned, I had a coupon for a free dessert for my birthday. I ordered the sticky toffee pudding with apples and ice cream and it was really good. Like, really, really good! They brought it out to me with a sparkler in it – a nice touch for my birthday. The cheesecake of the day was pecan caramel. It was a traditional dense cheesecake drizzled in caramel and sprinkled with pecans. Jay quite enjoyed it, but found it quite heavy.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Vintage has reinforced our thinking that we should stop going to steakhouses in Calgary for steak. We’re almost always disappointed. Jay can make a mean steak at home with a bone in prime rib that I can get on sale at Sobey’s. There were just too many things that were ‘off’ this evening… I don’t think we’ll be going back for a while. I got a free dessert for my birthday, but paid full price for an upgraded side.