Restaurant Review: BlueBlood's lavish castle backdrop can't save the steakhouse from mediocrity


Prince oversees the oak room

If Sir Henry Pellatt were alive today, I’m guessing he’d be thrilled about the fancy steakhouse in his castle. Okay, maybe not thrilled. Maybe the guy would still be bitter about losing his castle. But if he had to lose it, what better tenant for a wannabe aristocrat than (they said it, we didn’t) BlueBlood Steakhouse from Liberty Entertainment Group?

However we feel about the food or the tab (more on that later), going for dinner in a castle is super cool. The restaurant’s main room, the oak room, is a Gothic splendour of dark oak columns and panelling, ornate carving garnishing floor to coffered ceiling. It looks exactly as a steakhouse in a castle ought to. With a portrait of Prince over the fireplace!

Too bad we didn’t have dinner in the oak room.

We were seated in a small side parlour, a pleasantly nondescript room. When we checked out the oak room after dinner and wondered aloud why we hadn’t been seated there, a waiter said: “Ask to be seated here next time.”

Next time? Fat chance. Dinner for two: $465 (including tax, tip and three glasses of wine plus one cocktail — not exactly alcoholic debauchery) did not buy a dinner even vaguely fit for an aristocrat. 

The sole wonderful pre-dessert item we ate was ricotta porcini ravioli — deep complex savour — topped with rich braised short rib. Our other app — wagyu beef carpaccio — was splendidly marbled buttery beef, but its topping — truffle crumb — reminded me of what comes out of a ramen spice packet on a lazy day. I ask the waiter how they make it. He says they don’t; they buy it; and you can get it at a supermarket.

Then there are the fixings. The $14 fries are big, fat and mealy. They come with meh house-made ketchup. I’d prefer Heinz. Asparagus with lemon beurre blanc also meh. Too little beurre blanc, not buttery enough.

Same mouth feel to Béarnaise sauce — not buttery enough.

Also less than exciting is the $64 Australian lamb rack. I find the maple addition to the pistachio crust off-puttingly sweet, and my feelings about Australian lamb can be summed up in one word: Loblaws.

But steak is really the point here. Our 18 oz. $90 PEI strip loin is perfectly cooked, warm ruby heart and strong char. But I don’t  love it. The waiter warned us that they season their steaks less than other steakhouses, and he proffered three different boutique salts. But large crystal fancy shmancy salt doesn’t season a steak.

It’s a great show, from drinks to dessert. The $20 old fashioned (a.k.a. Once Upon a Time) comes covered in a bell jar, wreathed in smoke that escapes when they lift the jar. Shazam! The profiterole dessert arrives, a shiny dark chocolate dome. The waiter pours warm salted caramel sauce over it, and the chocolate melts into a river, exposing house-made hazelnut ice cream (one of the best things they do) topped with choux pastry.

All show, no go. Perhaps perfectly in the tradition of Sir Henry.

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Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cordon Bleu de Cuisine in Paris. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Maclean’s and Chatelaine. Follow her on Twitter @JoanneKates.

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