When I was growing up In Vancouver, we often went out as a family for dinner. Usually it was for some special occasion, a Birthday, anniversary or something along those lines. There were a variety of different places that we'd go to, often depending on what everyone was in the mood for.
One of our more regular spots was the Keg Steak House In North Vancouver. There was no special reason that I can remember going there, aside from the fact that all of us liked steak. That and of course it was probably easy on my Dad's wallet.
There's not a lot of traditions in my family, however we do try. When my sister was planning a surprise dinner party for my parents for their fortieth anniversary, she had to decide where to hold it. Lucky me, I was a thousand miles away, and as far as my parents were concerned would be a no show. That was the surprise part. With literally dozens of choices to choose from in Halifax where the dinner was to be held, she chose the Keg there.
I guess she thought it would be like those dinners we had when we were growing up, and as it turned out it was. We don't all get together a lot now, and it was nice to do so in a familiar place. They treated us rather nicely there too, even giving us a small private dining room. Mind maybe they've seen our table manners and didn't want to frighten off the other diners.
There are fifteen Kegs in the Greater Toronto Area, two of which are located downtown. Both I and my better half are known to frequent. As I've noted before here there is a hierarchy of where to get a good steak in this city.
Both the Keg Mansion on Jarvis Street and the one at Church and the Esplanade are somewhere in the middle of this. Not among the high priced, mortgage your house places, but then again, not at the low end either. Most importantly they do serve a good steak.
Both places are similar if not identical in regards to menu selection and price. Where they differ is in atmosphere. The Keg Mansion as the name implies is in a magnificent old mansion. Jarvis Street was where the high and mighty once built their homes when Toronto was founded. Quite a number of these are still standing and have been converted into a variety of uses.
The mansion itself is spectacular with an immense entrance way. The dining areas are all on the main floor, in several large high ceiling rooms all elaborately decorated. Diners are invited and even encouraged to wander about and admire the place, before during or after your meal. The second floor contains a large bar area complete with several nooks with working fireplaces.
You can either wait for your downstairs table here or take advantage of the full menu offered and eat upstairs. Pagers are issued as you arrive to let you know when your table is ready. As a convenience your bill can be transferred downstairs when you've finished your drinks and/or aperitifs.
The one drawback if you can call it that with the Mansion is that it seems to be crowded and noisy. The high ceilings and large dining rooms do remove a degree of intimacy if that's what you're looking for. Then again the last time we ate there it was Valentines Day and the place was understandably packed.
The other Keg on Church Street is a little smaller. While it lacks the grandeur of the Mansion, both I and my girlfriend prefer it. Maybe that's because it is a smaller more intimate setting. There are several fireplaces here too and a few banquets and booths that provide a degree of privacy that is lacking in the one "up the road."
Menu wise both are the same. Naturally steak is king here and the quality is well above average. I have yet to have a bad cut here and I'm picky. There are other items on the menu, naturally although why someone would chose seafood at a steak place is beyond me. I don't order prime rib at Red Lobster.
There is a carefully selected wine list available with a variety of suggestions to compliment your meal. Apertifs are also on the menu. I personally recommend the jumbo shrimp cocktail. The desert menu looks enticing although I've never had room to find out first hand how good it really is.
Last good item is the price. The Keg is more than reasonable. Dinner for two depending on entrees and even with wine runs under $100.00 Canadian ($65.00 US) and that includes a well deserved tip.
My only complaint is neither of the places allows reservations on weekends. Any time after 7:00 p.m. count on a half hour wait at the Church Street location, and even longer at the Mansion. Of course the wait is made is made bearable there by the upstairs bar. All in all this one minor flaw doesn't really detract from the place.
The Keg Mansion 515 Jarvis Street Toronto (416) 964-6609
The Keg Restaurant 12 Church Street Toronto (416) 367-0685
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Kid Friendliness: Yes
Vegetarian Friendly: No
Best Suited For: Friends