Onyx Steakhouse and Lounge (White Rock)

Restaurant: Onyx Steakhouse and Lounge
Cuisine: American/Steakhouse
Last visited: March 15, 2012
Location: White Rock, BC (White Rock)
Address: 1225 Johnston Road
Bus: SB Johnston Rd NS Buena Vista Av
Price Range: $30-50+

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!

Food: 3
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 3.5
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • 2 locations
  • Modern steakhouse
  • Casual dining
  • Moderately priced
  • 36 day dry aged steaks
  • Bar Lounge 4:30 – 10:00 Sunday
  • Bar Lounge 4:30 – 11:00 Monday – Thursday
  • Bar Lounge 4:30 – Midnight Friday & Saturday
  • Dining Room 5:00 – 9:30 Sunday
  • Dining Room 5:00 – 10:00 Monday – Thursday
  • Dining Room 5:00 – 10:30 Friday & Saturday

**Recommendations: Filet Mignon, Bacon Creamed Corn, Panko Almond Creamed Spinach, Cheese Bread with side of demi-glace as dipping sauce

It was a visit to the Onyx Hotel, but instead of Britney Spears it was Sherman, and instead of the hotel it was the steakhouse & lounge. Every time I drive by here, which isn’t too often, I think of the Britney Spears Onyx Hotel concert… anyways it’s actually a steakhouse in White Rock and it has another location in Port Moody and a sister restaurant Pearl Urban Bistro also in White Rock.

I’ve known about it for a while, but was never too eager to check it out just because I always thought of it as a chain restaurant. There is nothing wrong with chains, but as a “foodie” if I’m driving out to the area then I would normally go for something a bit more unique. Regardless, it’s not a chain and I was happy to tag along on behalf of Sherman’s invite. He needed someone to help him dent the menu and I’ve never failed him before, and this time we almost destroyed it. Thanks to him here are the pictures to prove it too!

It does have that “chain-like” atmosphere, but it was comfortable and not far from Milestones or Earls (just in reference to atmosphere). The menu was more like The Keg and it’s casual dining and a modern take on a steakhouse. They actually dry age the steaks for 36 days in house and they have all the expected steakhouse items with a few West Coast twists.

The prices and portions were fair for what they were offering, but the execution on some of the dishes were a tad questionable or just a bit ordinary. I didn’t have any expectations going in and besides a few things on the menu that I think should be renamed, everything was generally good. There wasn’t really anything to rave about or to complain about, and it caters to a non-fussy clientele looking for a good vibe and somewhat of an upscale yet approachable ambiance.

On the table:

White Grape Martini – It was their special for the day, but it was very light on the vodka and more like juice, but not as sweet.

Complimentary Bread & Butter – They were standard buns, but oven baked, crunchy outside, soft and fluffy inside, and served warm with a garlicky whipped herb butter that was actually quite good.

Onyx Famous Cheese Toast2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • Grana Padano, asiago, swiss provolone, white cheddar $7.65
  • I know cheese toast is cheese toast, but it’s one of those items that a steakhouse should nail.
  • This was good, but could have been much better because it just tasted like cheddar and mozzarella cheese instead of all the cheeses listed.
  • It was ooey, gooey and stringy, and the bread was crunchy and soft inside but I was hoping for either some added garlic or an alfredo sauce spread underneath.
  • The bread part was actually better than the cheese part which is unusual
  • I just wanted the cheese to absorb into the bread rather than sitting on top and it just kind of seemed like something I could make at home.
  • If you’re going to order this, pay extra for a side of demi-glace and use it as a dipping sauce. I randomly started doing that and it was great.
  • The best cheese toast from a steakhouse I’ve had so far is at Hy’s Steakhouse, and I enjoyed the one at Ensemble Tap, but found it overpriced – see their Heart Attack Bread.

Escargot3/6 (Good without the gnocchi)

  • House made gnocchi, mushroom duo, demi glace $10.65
  • It was really unexpected to see the escargot served with gnocchi as an appetizer.
  • The 7-10 escargot were good and not overcooked and chewy, but they were quite bland and we needed to reach for the salt shaker.
  • The gnocchi is offered as a side too, but I wasn’t keen on it. I would have rather had double the sauteed mushrooms which were great.
  • The large gnocchi was just very doughy, firm and dense and quite bland.
  • The sauce was the best part and I was wiping it up with the cheese bread which made the cheese bread even better too.
  • The sauce was a thick, syrupy and rich buttery demi glace that was sweet and salty and delicious. It had tons of meaty beefy flavour on its own, but it still wasn’t enough to flavour the escargot or gnocchi for some reason.
  • The mushrooms were button and brown with a few enoki mushrooms and I probably would have preferred parsley as a garnish rather than green onions, but that wasn’t a big deal.

Crab Cake3/6 (Good)

  • Avocado creme fraiche, celeriac cole slaw $12.95
  • It didn’t taste bad, but it just wasn’t a crab cake and if they called it a crab salad or crab dip and served it with some crostini or chips I think that would have been better.
  • The salad on the side was a bit dull and was made of raw carrots, celeriac root and parsley. It was lightly dressed in a lemony aioli dressing, but it seemed more like a garnish salad than one I would want to eat.
  • Some broccolini instead of celeriac or some added cucumber for moisture would have made it seem a bit less “raw” tasting and just more vibrant and moist.

  • The crab cake was not a crab cake, but a tower of ingredients used to make a crab cake. It was served chilled.
  • There was an avocado puree that was quite smoky and tangy from the creme fraiche like a guacamole, and then a layer of flaky moist plain crab meat and then toasted panko crumbs on top.
  • It just felt more like a dip than an appetizer and although there was a decent amount of crab, it was just a bit odd for me as a “crab cake”.
  • Again it didn’t taste bad and there was a bright acidity in the puree, but it was a bit ordinary.

Baby Back Pork Ribs2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • Chipotle blueberry BBQ sauce $25.95
  • I’m a fan of ribs and when I saw “chipotle blueberry BBQ sauce” I just had to try it. I’ve had the Carmen Creek Bison Ribs with Wild Blackberry BBQ Sauce from Pair Bistro so the idea wasn’t necessarily foreign, but creative and unexpected.
  • I also asked for a side of Bourbon Peach BBQ sauce on the side for curiosity’s sake.
  • The onion ring was actually very good and it had a very thin and crispy light batter and a thick sweet onion inside. It was well seasoned too and there was some dill in the batter, but I couldn’t taste it.
  • The ribs had a beautiful charred exterior and a nice caramelized bark from the sauce which was slightly sweet with some real smashed pre-frozen, but thawed blueberries.
  • The sauce wasn’t too sweet though and the blueberry flavour wasn’t obvious unless you knew, but even then it was a bit subtle.
  • The BBQ sauce actually tasted quite traditional and it had a mild after kick and heat of chipotle spice.
  • I found the Bourbon Peach BBQ sauce even sweeter and it was even tangier and almost like sweet and sour plum sauce.
  • It didn’t really taste like peach and it was smooth in texture, but I could taste the Bourbon in it. Overall I preferred the Chipotle Blueberry sauce.
  • The ribs I found a tad dry, but the middle portion was okay.
  • They weren’t pre-boiled so the meat didn’t fall off the bone, but they weren’t particularly smoky or very tender and was sticking to the membrane and it was hard to get the meat off at all.
  • I actually enjoy the “fall off the bone rib” though so I’m perhaps biased. I don’t find it loses flavour either if you braise them for a bit beforehand to get them to that point.
  • Personally I would prefer the ribs from The Keg if I was comparing it to something of the same caliber.

**Filet Mignon4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Bacon mushroom demi glace $33.95
  • Well what I consider the most important part of a steakhouse, they nailed!
  • The filet mignon was pretty perfect for a restaurant of this style and I was more than impressed with it.
  • The filet mignon is my favourite cut and I never order steak unless I’m at a steakhouse.
  • Here it is dry aged in house for 36 days and it did the meat justice.
  • Again the onion ring was really good and I wouldn’t mind a side dish of them.
  • Besides being well seasoned, the onion ring had a very thin and crispy light batter and a thick sweet onion inside. There was some dill in the batter, but I couldn’t taste it.
  • The steak had just the right amount of sweet, syrupy, thick, rich, meaty and buttery demi glace, but the mushrooms were a tad shy.
  • I actually think their demi-glace is very good here and well reduced.

  • I could slice the filet mignon in a super thin slice without pulling at the meat and the cut was clean, the meat was juicy, tender and flavourful.
  • The steak was cooked perfectly and it cut like butter.
  • There was a great crust on the outside that was a bit crispy and charred and it was well seasoned with a dry rub and I could taste the pepper, but it wasn’t spicy.
  • Although it wasn’t fine dining steakhouse quality, which is expected and fair for the price, I actually enjoyed it better than the filet mignon at The Keg. The quality of meat and how it was aged was just better (in regards to the filet mignon only, since I didn’t try their other cuts).

Atlantic Lobster Tail4/6 (Very good)

  • $19.95
  • I added the lobster tail to the filet mignon and it was cooked perfectly, juicy, not chewy and a fair size.
  • It was served with some melted butter and a lemon, and it was very good for what it was.
  • A simple and pricey addition, but it was executed well.

Truffle Lobster Mac & Cheese3/6 (Good)

  • $13.95
  • There was a ton of lobster in it, but it actually would have been better without any lobster because it was all lobster claw meat which I’m not a fan of.
  • The lobster claw meat is very mushy and pasty so it never works well in mac and cheese, or even alone.
  • If this is always served with lobster claw meat, than I would rather have it without any.
  • The mac noodles weren’t salted and they were a bit overcooked too, but they didn’t taste bad.
  • Everything was just a bit on the mushy and soft side and I just wanted some more texture and the panko crust wasn’t really doing anything.
  • On the other hand, the flavour of the mac and cheese was good and I could taste truffle throughout.
  • The sauce was more like a rue (butter + flour + cream) than it was cheesy, but there was still a decent amount of cheese flavour.
  • It was still very rich, creamy, saucy and thick, but it had more potential.
  • I’m being a bit picky now, but I think it would be great to cook this in a sauce made with lobster shells like a mac and cheese lobster bisque. I would settle for lobster tail meat and firmer noodles though.

**Bacon Creamed Corn4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • $5.95
  • This was very good, but it wasn’t a “creamed corn”, but a corn sautee with bacon and some cream.
  • This was my favourite side. I do really love corn, but I also love the vegetables in the other sides I ordered.
  • I know it’s not in season, but even for frozen corn it was delicious. Sure it was a bit “make it at home”, but I still enjoyed it for what it was and it was priced fine.
  • The corn was noticeably sweet so I’m not sure if it was enhanced with sugar, but even so it didn’t taste sugary, it was just very sweet.
  • The corn was crunchy and the bacon was good quality and crispy giving it that salty sweet balance.
  • The cream was quite thin and watery and maybe added last minute and it probably didn’t even need it.
  • I would still order this again, but think they should rename it because it’s not a traditional “creamed corn”.

**Panko Almond Creamed Spinach3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • $5.95
  • The spinach wasn’t overcooked or watery and it wasn’t as rich as it sounded or looked.
  • The toasted almonds were just on top which gave it a nice nutty crunch so it made for good texture.
  • It tasted like spinach and artichoke dip to me, but without the artichokes.
  • There was a good amount of cheese and it was well seasoned.

Organic Yam Gratin2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • $7.65
  • I was hoping for more of a gratin, but the topping was just of melted cheese so it didn’t have that crispy layer I love.
  • It was almost like a baked scalloped potato casserole.
  • I think I was expecting a yam puree with a gratin topping made with Parmesan and panko instead of melted mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
  • It wasn’t all yams, but alternating layers of very thinly sliced russet potatoes and yams.
  • The potatoes cooked at different times so the yams were firmer and then the Russets were ultra soft and almost like mashed potatoes.
  • There was a nice sweetness and perhaps a bit of maple and the salty cheese was a nice balance.
  • It ended up being a tad mushy, and I think I was expecting something else, but it was still pretty good.

Bacon Almond Brussel Sprouts1.5/6 (Poor-Okay)

  • $5.95
  • I love brussel sprouts, but I really wasn’t a fan of this one and I just ended up eating the bacon and almonds.
  • The brussel sprouts were very tiny and I’m pretty sure frozen because they were quite mushy and overcooked and lost their flavour.
  • The bacon was good quality, crispy thick bacon and the almonds were a nice addition, but the brussel sprouts just didn’t pull through as the main ingredient.

Apple Berry Crisp3/6 (Good)

  • Seasonal berries, French vanilla ice cream $7.75
  • I’m a fan of hot and cold desserts and for me the best part of a crisp is the crisp, but this one didn’t have it so I wish they called it something else.
  • It was basically an upside down “crisp” and the bottom layer tasted like a butter tart meets an oatmeal bar.
  • It had lots of oats, brown sugar and a hint of cinnamon, but I which it was crispy or crunchy and it was all a bit soft and mushy.
  • The fruit layer was great though and the apple held its shape, but they weren’t actually tart.
  • The seasonal berries were some cranberries and it wasn’t too sweet which was good.
  • I really wasn’t a fan of the ice cream, but I am a bit of an ice cream snob.
  • It was just very soft and had no vanilla bean seeds and it was just not a good quality ice cream.
  • There was a drizzle of caramel or butterscotch on top, but I don’t think it was home made or anything, which is okay with me here.

Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding2/6 (Okay)

  • Chocolate toffee sauce, French vanilla ice cream $7.75
  • Again, I love hot and cold desserts and almost anything with ice cream, but in this case the ice cream wasn’t great quality and it was really soft without the vanilla bean seeds too.
  • The sticky toffee pudding was warm, soft, gooey, moist and tender and the texture was great, but it was hurt your teeth sweet for me. I have a sweet tooth, but I’m not a fan of too sweet.
  • The extra chocolate toffee sauce made it even sweeter and it was just too much for me.

Trio of Crème Brûlée 3/6 (Good)

  • Bailey’s, Tahitian vanilla bean, dark chocolate $7.75
  • I never really order crème brûlée, but I know people seem to love it. I don’t mind it, but it’s just not something I crave.
  • I liked the trio/sampler idea and it gave me just enough of each.
  • Due to the presentation and deep cups they were served in, the sugar topping was really thick and hard to break through.
  • The custard part in all of them were also thicker than your normal crème brûlée. It was a bit thinner than ganache.
  • The custard was smooth and not too sweet, and out of all of them the Bailey’s had the best texture because it was a bit thinner.

The Tahitian vanilla bean had very little vanilla bean seeds so it didn’t make too much of a difference in flavour.

The Bailey’s was actually very apparent and boozy and it had the best texture, but still on the thick side.

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  • David Chow says:

    I’d prefer Giraffe Restaurant 🙂

  • Bow says:

    The problem of the Onyx is that the food caters to the ” hotel buffet crowd”, people who are blissfully unaware that better food is elsewhere ! The problem with the cheese toasts is the cheese chosen…a more pronounced taste would by pecorino Romano, Le Gruyere, Italian aged provolone and a sharper cheddar. Frozen brussel sprouts, well too bad…I too love them(split in 1/2, stir fried with Xtra virgin in which you flavoured with some julienned ginger, glaze with a little brown sucre and good soy sauce, cook by tossing rapidly; keep it crunchy). The Lobster Truffle Mac ‘n’ cheese is a little over the top ? Truffle oil mates beautifully with great mushrooms…perhaps porcini. You sure put a dent in the menu(didn’t miss desserts, huh ?).

  • Mijune says:

    @David Chow – is that so? I like that place too! Consistent. 🙂

    @Bow – Simple and delicious brussel spout recipe! Lobster Mac and Cheese I think is fine to be over the top, but when it’s not executed well it’s such a waste… otherwise it is delicious. I never miss the desserts 🙂 … almost never at least!

  • Shelby says:

    I think it is a great place to eat…you should try them out again, they just released a brand new summer menu and all the things you reviewed as average no longer have a place on the existing menu! They also have 4 new desserts, including a banana split with home made marshmallows….and better ice cream! Lol…

  • Mijune says:

    @shelby – fantastic!! thank you for the re-recommendation! Love seasonal menus! And yum! banana splits!

  • Elsie says:

    Definitely would rate this place higher! we went for dinner the other night and it was AWESOME. all we did was starters in there little “lounge” area, and it was great! really felt like the server cared, she was actually the bartender too and she just took such great care of us, it was so comfortable, and delicious 🙂 worth every penny

  • Mijune says:

    @Eisle – great! Glad the appies worked out for you!

  • KS says:

    Just a note RE: Mac and Cheese sauce. A “rOUX” is equal parts fat and flour and is the thickening agent for a Bechamel sauce, it is also the thickening agent for many other sauces and soups, for example a Veloute which is created when you add stock to the roux. To make a Bechamel you then add the milk or cream. The base of a Macaroni and Cheese is a Mornay sauce, which is created when you add cheese to a béchamel. So it sounds like the macaroni and cheese was actually made correctly.

  • Mijune says:

    @KS – sorry! I meant roux, not rue. Thanks for that. And yes, I realize it is the thickening agent and base sauce for mac n’ cheese, but I still expected more cheese and it just tasted like a béchamel without the cheese. You are right though and I should have been more clear, so thanks for bringing that up.

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