Restaurant: Carver’s Steakhouse
Cuisine: Steakhouse/Pacific Northwest
Last visited: August 16, 2012
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 7211 Westminster Highway (At Executive Airport Plaza)
Transit: WB Westminster Hwy FS Alderbridge
Price Range: $30-50+ ($35-45 3 course menus)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- American Style Steakhouse
- Certified Angus Beef
- Aged 28 days
- Canadian beef
- Sustainable/ethical meats
- Ocean Wise seafood options
- Casual fine dining
- Private dining available
- Wine list
- Pay parking lot
- Tuesday – Sunday 5pm-10pm
It was the annual British Columbia Chef’s Association (BCCA) Board of Directors Appreciation Dinner and this year was hosted at Carver’s Steakhouse & Lounge in Richmond, BC. BCCA’s First Vice President is Chef Boban Kovachevich who is also the Corporate Chef for the Executive Hotel chain. Therefore due to the nature of the event there was a special menu created. For this reason and my associations I will leave my comments to a minimum. The set menu may give you an idea of what to expect at Carver’s Steakhouse for banquet menus or private dining, but it may not be a proper representation of a regular night there.
I have been to several banquet dinners hosted at the Executive Airport Plaza Hotel ballroom, but have never tried their restaurant. Being a local, a hotel restaurant in Richmond isn’t necessarily a tourist destination for a food enthusiast. Even though I can’t really comment with a neutral perspective, I can write in honest truth.
The atmosphere and ambiance was a bit old fashioned, but the food could hold its own. This isn’t just based on my experience either (considering my biases), but I have read and heard lots of positive feedback from trusted foodies so it was on my radar even if it wasn’t quite a priority.
Richmond is a city most famous for its Asian cuisine, but if you’re a local in the area and you’re craving a steak than this is an option. Carver’s Steakhouse & Lounge is a classic American steakhouse with some Pacific Northwest flavours, but everything on the menu is very approachable. It’s white table cloth casual fine dining with Certified Angus Beef from Canada aged for a minimum of 28 days. Although it wasn’t your Hy’s Steakhouse of Gotham’s (for Vancouver’s high end steakhouse references), there is still attention to quality and it’s more affordable then the mentioned even though it is in a hotel.
The only steakhouse options for Richmond are this, Carmichael’s at the Hilton Hotel, Chop Steakhouse at the Sandman Hotel, and The Keg. Chop and The Keg are chains too so the experience might not be as unique, but they do offer a livelier and more modern ambiance than the other two. I would assume Carver’s caters to hotel guests primarily, but I wouldn’t write it off as a special occasions place for long time locals in Richmond.
On the table:
- The bread was served warm and there was an assortment of white baguette, brown baguette and cranberry baguette.
- It was accompanied with olive oil and vinegar instead of expected butter which is more common for a steakhouse.
- Thai rice salsa, lemongrass poached lobster, mango and toasted cashews
- This is quite typical of something you would see on the West Coast.
- It had good textures thanks to the candied cashew clusters, a savoury sweet balance and sweet Thai chili sauce for a bit of spice.
- Modern Japanese restaurants might have it with sushi rice instead of Thai rice and tuna instead of lobster.
- For Japanese versions see – Chirashi Tart at Miku Restaurant, the Hawaiian Tuna Tower at Kiriri or the Kitstaya Tuna Salad at Kitstaya Sushi.
- Another Pacific Northwest version I’ve had is the Vancouver Island Local & Dungeness Crab Tower at Pan Pacific Hotel.
- Pecorino polenta crostini, BC-forest chanterelles, black truffle red pepper emulsion
- Now this was the most interesting part of dinner. It wasn’t the tartare, but the story behind the tartare.
What’s My Beef with Steak Tartare?
This is Chef Paul Ho, past treasurer for the BC Chef’s Association. If I’m going to hear a story about food history I want it to be from someone who looks like him! And this is my “once upon a time” of his “once upon a time”…
Chef Paul Ho: Mijune. Are you blogging about this?
Me: I’m not sure. Considering the circumstances it would be hard to. Howcome?
Chef Paul Ho: Do you know Steak Tartar isn’t French?
Me: Um. What? Isn’t Steak Tartar a French appetizer… ?
Chef Paul Ho: No, it’s Chinese.
This might be old news to some, but I’m sure it’s “new news” to many. According to Chef Paul Ho, who was sitting across from me, Steak Tartar is not French. He told me that its origins are tied with Central Asia back when the Mongolian warriors swept across Central Europe over 800 years ago. The Tartar horseman would place horsemeat under their saddles and by the end of their journey the meat would be tenderized from all the bouncing and they would eat the meat raw. We talked about it for quite sometime and I was convinced. We even talked about pasta originating from China (which is old news), and one of the fellow chefs chimed in by saying a lot of French food does not actually have French origins.
I took the story back into my own hands and spent the next few days researching some more about the fact… or fiction? I found a bunch of arguments for and against the idea of Steak Tartare originating from Central Asia, but from my analysis I’m not as convinced anymore. I know many parts of Central Asia still eat horsemeat, and at one point you could even buy it in Vancouver’s Save-On Meats shop, but the horsemeat tartare story, might be just that… a story.
I think it could have been adapted by the French, but I don’t think it originated in France. Some say the Tartar horseman tale is a myth and that the horsemeat was placed under the saddle to cure the horses sores, and/or to make the journey more comfortable. Apparently the meat would have been inedible by the time they reached their destination and there seems to be little mention of it recorded in Chinese history.
According to the New York Times, “The Cambridge Medieval History” of 1924 says the story was started by early chroniclers who witnessed Mongol horseman putting horsemeat under their saddles, but it wasn’t for food purposes. With more research it seems that Steak Tartare could have originated in Germany though. The German sailors could have brought it to Hamburg and this is where the beef patty or Hamburger originated.
The most common thought for Steak Tartare is that the name comes from Steak a la Tartare which brings it back to French origins. The raw beef would be mixed with “Tartare sauce” (mayo and pickles). Nowadays Steak Tartar refers to chopped raw beef mixed with shallots, capers, maybe mustard, mayo, Worcestershire sauce and raw egg yolk, but how it came to be is still a mystery to me.
It might be something I’ll never get down to the root of, and it’s not information that will change my life, but I like knowing fact from fiction and food history is important. None of the arguments really convince me, but this is all I could dig up for now. That being said, I really appreciate hearing the story from Chef Paul Ho because it wouldn’t have inspired me to research any of this or share what I learned.
- Certified Angus Beef New York Steak
- Certified Angus beef centre cut strip loin, full bodied texture
- Lamb Shank
- Slow cooked lamb shank in red zinfandel & spices
- This was my favourite of the three. It would make the Greeks proud.
- It was braised and falling apart tender and the meat was moist and not too gamey.
- Breast of Fraser Valley Duck
- Sun dried figs, bee pollen, honey glaze
- This was my second favourite.
- The fat was well rendered and although I would have liked a crispy skin, it was still tender and moist. It almost seemed sous vide.
- Tart raspberry sauce, almond wafer
- I don’t really get too excited about crème brûlée or chocolate mousse just because they are more ordinary desserts, but this was actually really good.
- It tasted basically like a milk chocolate mousse (maybe 60% chocolate) with a layer of white chocolate mousse on top.
- The mousse was nice and light, not too sweet and it didn’t have a greasy after taste.
- It was a bit semi frozen in the middle too and even if that was not intentional
(it likely wasn’t), I liked it.
- **Added comment August 15, 2012 – Apparently this terrine was supposed to be a French style parfait so that’s why it had a semi-frozen centre. In that case I think it would be appropriate to call it a parfait in the menu name.
- An American style parfait is a layered dessert and different from the traditional French one.
- The almond wafer almost seemed like buckwheat rather than almond and I wish it held its crispness, but I appreciated it for presentation. That was the only part I wasn’t keen on.
- This is available on their regular menu and it seems to be a house favourite.