Growing up, The Keg was the fancy restaurant destination of choice - in a city driven by steakhouses, it was consistent and affordable. And I loved the salad bar.
I haven't been for years - our Calgary food scene has evolved beyond the steakhouse and back again - until recently, when I was invited to try out their new winter grill menu. Suddenly, the thought of a steak, double stuffed baked potato with cheese and bacon and a bowl of lobster bisque was exactly what I wanted. It's quintessential wintertime (read: parka season) comfort food.
So we pawned off the kid, bundled up and went downtown one evening, and at first almost drove past it - the Keg that lived on in my memory was dark and brooding, with lots of wood and orange glass - classic, really. Vintage '80s. But the new location we visited was sleek and modern, well designed and mood-lit with fireplaces and booths of various shapes, sizes and heights. It was kid-friendly, but perfect for a grown-up getaway, the booths well separated and quiet enough to have a conversation even though the restaurant was bustling.
We shared a rib steak for two (that between meat and sides provided enough leftovers for another full dinner the next day) and it was one of the best pieces of meat I've ever eaten - offered up on a wood carving board with your choice of chimichurri, whiskey peppercorn sauce, creamy béarnaise or a demi-glace dribbled overtop. I had forgotten how much I love the bright, fresh taste of chimichurri - and how easy it is to make. With a stash of steaks in the freezer left over from my niece's soccer fundraiser last year (beats chocolate covered almonds - or at least it's less dangerous), I decided to attempt to recreate it at home.
I admit it didn't come close to the thick, charred tomahawk we shared by candlelight, with grilled veggies and cheesy potatoes, wine topped up and no dishes to wash. But it's worth a try for date night in, after the kids are in bed, with no need for a sitter. To minimize dishes serve it straight from the board, to slice and dip and eat with your fingers. Fifty shades of steak..?
Grilled Steak with Chimichurri
steaks of your choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
canola or other vegetable oil, for cooking
1 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the steaks, leave them at room temperature until they're no longer fridge-cold, pat them dry with paper towels and sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper.
Set a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat (cast iron is ideal) or preheat your grill. Cook your steak for 4-5 minutes on each side, turning only once, for medium-rare.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well blended. Taste and adjust the seasonings as you like.
Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes before serving topped with chimichurri.