In the Vancouver restaurant scene, 50 years is an eternity. Even phenomenal, palate-thrilling eateries seem to have a lifespan of just a few years (R.I.P. Lumiere, Refuel). For a restaurant to survive and thrive for half a century is no small accomplishment.
That’s exactly what Hy’s Encore steakhouse has done this year. And it’s marking its long reign over Vancouver’s steak-and-potatoes scene with a retro menu that’s a throwback to its early days.
Remember Steak Diane? I don’t. But apparently it was big back in the early 1960s, when Hy’s first opened its doors on Hornby Street. You take a filet mignon, then finish it table-side with sauteed mushrooms, Dijon mustard, veal demi-glace and – to top it all off – a brandy flambe. Hmm . . . guess they weren’t exactly counting calories back in the day. And that’s just one of the retro dishes on Hy’s 50th anniversary menu, offered throughout October.
Purists might also consider a classic Beef Wellington. Hy’s description is especially poetic:
This rich and famous combination, a variation of the French dish, filet de boeuf en croute, has a vague history but endures as a classic. We offer this regal combination of Canadian Prime Filet Mignon, foie gras pate and mushroom duxelles wrapped in buttery puff pastry, baked to a golden brown and finished with peppercorn sauce.
Other retro dishes include Dover Sole Meuniere (a whole Dover sole is roasted, then deboned and finished table-side with a white wine, lemon and butter sauce) and Tournedos Rossini (char-grilled filet mignon topped with seared foie gras and shaved truffles, then finished with Madeira wine jus).
A little background is in order on Hy’s, which is still going strong after all these years, taking home the 2012 Gold Medal for Best Steakhouse in the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. It was opened at the same address it occupies today by Hy Aisenstat, whose children continue to run the restaurant. Hy, judging from anecdotes and photos, appears to have been something of a character, smoking 10 Havana cigars daily until he passed away in 1988.
From the beginning, Hy’s specialized in top-quality aged Alberta beef, something that hasn’t changed over the years. Martinis and char-grilled steaks remain its calling cards today.
Anyone remember Steak Diane? Any Hy’s fans out there? Let us know below.