Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hot Stove Club at the Air Canada Centre

I'm willing to bet that not many of you have been to (or have heard of) the Hot Stove Club. I don't blame you because up until last year I haven't heard of it either. The fact that the restaurant is located inside the Air Canada Centre ("ACC") is probably the number one reason why (I don't frequent sports games or concerts so I'm really never there). Another reason is because for the longest time the Hot Stove Club was a members-only establishment (this is no longer the case). So armed with this new found knowledge, you should really consider grabbing a bite at the Hot Stove Club before a game or a show. Let's face it - whether it be a Raptors game next season (sorry I had to!) or the U2 concert in July, there is only so much concession food that one can tolerate. I mean, you already splurged on those tickets, right? So might as well treat yourself to some good food. Your tummy deserves much more than overpriced popcorn, nachos and hot dogs!

Established in 1963, the Hot Stove Club is a place where guests can enjoy modern steakhouse cuisine. The restaurant has three bars, a lounge area, and a decor that's warm with earth-tone leathers, dark wood, and cozy plush seating.

A fireplace warms the communal dining area that comfortably seats parties of eight. The middle of those tables can convert into a raw bar.

At the restaurant's entrance is a custom built meat locker showcasing dry-aged premium cut meats. The Hot Stove Club offers nine different steak options with a meat program that is one of the most unique in the province. Every five weeks, chefs from the Hot Stove Club hand pick their cattle straight from the slaughterhouse for their in-house aging program and al their steaks are cooked on a 1500°F broiler which seals in all the amazing flavours and juices.

The Hot Stove Club's raw bar offers fresh seafood from local markets everyday.

Chef de Cuisine Kellen Crumb (@ChefCreezle) of the Hot Stove Club decided to feed me a lot food...and I mean A LOT OF FOOD:

This is a secret menu drink so even I don't know the ingredients!
Kettle One Vodka, HP, Sriracha, Fried Soppressata, Hot Stove Prime Rib Spice Rim

Caramelized Onion Stellina made by Ace Bakery

OYSTERS (Market Price)
Fanny Bay and Kusshi from BC, St. Simon from NB
Served with roasted black pepper and sherry mignonette, lemon wedges and Tabasco.

5-Spice Rice Flour, Sambal Mayo, Sweet Chili Sauce, Finger Chilies, Scallions, Coriander

To complement our dishes, Sommelier Jerome Jung opened a bottle of Two Hands Sophie's Garden Padthaway Shiraz. The Hot Stove Club has over 300 labels from various regions around the world.

BURGER ($25)
6 oz Canadian Ground Prime Patty, “Hot Stove Sauce” (House Made Mayo, Ketchup, White Wine Vin, Dijon, Shallots, Pickles, Capers, Parsley, Dill, Chives), Boston Lettuce, Sliced Red Onion, Dill Pickles, Yukon Gold Fries, Ace Bakery Bun.

Seared U-10 Scallops, Cauliflower Three-Ways (Pureed, Raw Shaved and Whole Roasted), Black Garlic Puree, Scallion-Chive Pearls, Nduja Vinaigrette, Brown Butter Powder, Wild Onion Flowers.

Crispy Garlic Potato Gnocchi, Brined Young Carrot, Puffed Beef Tendon, Root Beer Sauce, Fried Parsley, Sorrel


Three Sauces: Jus, Bearnaise, and Peppercorn (green peppercorns, pink peppercorns, black peppercorns)

Three Mushrooms (Oysters, Honey, Cremini), Salsify, Parmigiana, Truffles, Foie Gras Sauce

Garlic Sauteed Broccolini, Cured Egg Yolks

Creemore Battered Onion Rings. Dip is comprised of Triple Crunch Mayo, Kozliks and House-made Mayo

I couldn't resist...

Brule’d Bananas, Banana Ice Cream, House Made Banana Bread, Fried Banana Chips, House Made ‘Aero’ Chocolate, Whipped Cream, Chocolate Sauce.

Salted Caramel, Aerated Cheesecake

Smoked Icing Sugar, Raspberry Gel, Brown Butter White Chocolate Ganache, Coffee Caramel

A quick visit to the  Hot Stove Club kitchen after dinner. That's Chef de Cuisine Kellen Crumb at the pass.

The Hot Stove Club is not your everyday, run-of-the-mill steakhouse; its menu offers a variety of traditional steakhouse classics with refined twists. Whether it is in the preparation of ingredients or the ingredients themselves, the Hot Stove Club applies an elevated, modernized approach to most of their plates (I will note a couple of exceptions later). The calamari, for example, comes with sambal mayo, sweet chilies, and a coriander and scallions garnish. This is not your average calamari starter - the boost of vibrant Asian flavours here immediately wakes up your palette. Very appetizing. Next, the daily fish special with seared scallops was excellent. The mild briney-ness of the scallops, the earthiness of the black garlic puree, the slight heat from the nduja together with the contrasting textures from the puree and the scallion-chive pearls all work together to create one beautiful cohesive dish. I also applaud the variety of different cooking techniques used at the restaurant. Take the root beer braised short ribs, for example. Those tender short ribs were braised in a combination of veal stock, root beer and jalapenos for four hours, the carrot was brined for two days in a fennel / coriander / black pepper brine before it is roasted to order, and the puffed beef tendon is cooked sous vide for 18 hours at 80°F, shocked, sliced thin, let dry over night and fried to order at 350°F. All that for one dish! Technical jargon aside, those mushroom arancinis with foie gras sauce and shaved truffle were friggin' delicious! Moving on to desserts, all three were amazing but the sticky toffee pudding was by far my favourite. The sweet, but not too sweet, sticky toffee pudding was moist, decadent, and rich, absolutely fantastic with that salted caramel. But what made this sticky toffee pudding extra special is the aerated cheesecake. It was so delicate and almost as light as a mousse. A very nice touch to an either wise heavy dessert.

So, what did I miss? Oh yes, the burger and the steak, two things that the Hot Stove Club kept in their classic form. Good call on their part 'cause why mess with top quality meat? I personally don't like a lot of toppings on my burger, just the bare essentials is sufficient. A great burger to me is one where I can actually taste the patty and experience everything from the texture of the grind, the flavour of the meat to its natural juices. The other toppings should only exist to enhance the flavour of the burger, not overpower it or mask it. The same philosophy goes for steaks too. No frills. Just let the meat speak for itself!

In conclusion, yes there is always a place and time to stuff your face with popcorn. I get it. But if you ever find yourself in the mood for a nice sit-down meal at the ACC then make sure you give Hot Stove Club a try.

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

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