I’ve been to Blackstone twice – once during its soft opening phase last year, and once more recently. I can say one thing for sure – the quality of service has been as consistent as the quality of food.
I wasn’t expecting too much going in – to be honest, the place looked like a hole in the wall. If you’ve been to this plaza at Erin Mills, you probably know what I mean, it’s tucked into a corner with such an obscure entrance you might miss it unless you’re actually looking for it. There’s a sign at the front that asks you to enter through the plaza (and you’ll think you’re about to enter the Indian clothing boutique next door, not the steakhouse), then you’ll walk along the hallway until you see a side entrance into the restaurant. There, someone will welcome you in.
Once you’re in, you’ll notice that it’s got a hazy atmosphere. You could almost mistake it for a sheesha lounge… or maybe it’s a bit exaggerated in my memory. Either way, there’s that, and the floors look – dare I say it – dirty. Where is the table cloth? The menu is printouts of paper attached to a clipboard. Steakhouses are supposed to be upscale. Could this place be any more basic?
You’ll understand later.
The first time we went, the owner came over to introduce himself and offered to explain the various menu items along with his recommendations based on our preferences. Given that I’ve never really paid attention to the different qualities of each cut of meat, it was pretty helpful to have him guide us in our decision making process.
In the end, we decided to share nachos ($15) for the appetizer course, and damn that was a gigantic portion.
Jerk sauce, pulled beef, and mm-mm cheesy goodness. We didn’t even get close to finishing these.
My steak is pictured below, and as expected, I have no memory of what cut I ordered. I just know it was good!
So here’s the deal with Blackstone. The steaks are all around the $30 range, and they’ll bring it to you medium-rare. On a lava stone. It’s sizzling hot when it arrives at your table, and it’ll keep cooking until you move it off the stone. So really, if you like your steak medium-rare, you’re good to eat it as it is. But otherwise you’re here to enjoy the experience of cooking your steak precisely to your own taste. The tray comes with a little bit of butter to help you with the cooking process, and as the server explained, it’ll cook faster if you cut it into smaller pieces. You can flip it every minute or so in order to cook it evenly.
We found it pretty amusing to consider – it’s easy to blame the chef if your steak isn’t done the way you like it, but in this case you’d really only have yourself to blame!
Anyway, this explained away the hazy interior, the floors, and the lack of a table cloth. That steak sizzled so much I was worried about it getting on my own clothes! Imagine the maintenance that would come with having fancy table cloths and the like. Just check out the smoke coming off my cousin’s steak (below). Again, I can’t remember what cut of steak she ordered, but look at the size of that monster.
It comes with an in house sauce – chimichurri, I think it’s called? My preference has always been peppercorn, but that’s not on the menu so you take what you get.
P.s. I know it looks like the quantity of sides is laughable, but that’s because you can’t really see the mashed potatoes in these pictures. The next time I visited, I was feeling the fries way more. I tend to ignore my salads, so I have no comment about those.
For dessert, I ordered the creme brulee, and I’m pretty sure it was under the $10 bracket. It was good! I really wish I was less stuffed so I could enjoy it more though.
The second time I went, they had made some changes. They offered bread and butter while we waited, and the nachos were a little bit different (more colourful but still good). We were too stuffed to have dessert though, and unfortunately it was too hazy to take good pictures this time around. (There were more people there this time, with freshly served steaks and I can’t really blame them for the smoke anymore because I’ve already been enlightened, and let’s be honest, it smelled delicious).
Overall, I can say I was happy with my experience both times. It’s not as pricey as other steakhouses, and it’s halal! I loved flipping my own steak and watching it sizzle, and I was quite satisfied with the service. Two thumbs up for Blackstone!