Last night I had occasion to eat at a steakhouse, but felt I had to switch it up a little — it can’t be Jacobs & Co every time, right? And so, I made my first visit to one of Toronto’s quintessential old-man steakhouses: Barberian’s.

Barberians doesn’t seem like it’s changed in fifty years. Even the font on the menu has remained the same. It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to stay the course like that for so long, but it also takes good execution. And the execution was good: I ate only a tiny bit of the seafood starter, and didn’t really order a side: I just wanted to focus on my 10oz New York sirloin, cooked rare. My knife sliced through it like it was barely there, and it tasted fantastic. Nothing fancy…just a bad-ass steak.

Also, since the meal was on someone else’s dime, I was on the hunt for bargain red wines to have with the steak, and found a couple: first, the 2005 Catena Zapata Nicolas. Now, $305 might not seem like a bargain for one bottle, but that’s half of what we would have paid for a good Napa cab, and a fraction of what a comparable Bordeaux would have cost. And it was tremendous. After a few bottles of that  (plus cocktails before dinner) we’d had enough to drink that another such bottle might have been wasted on us, so we hunted down another bargain: the 2012 Thirty Bench Red. At $75 it was one of the cheapest bottles on the entire list, but a solid red blend from a great Ontario vintage.

After dinner the staff took us downstairs for a quick look at the wine cellar, and I almost committed grand larceny. I can’t talk about it. I’ll get emotional.


Cover photo from the Barberian’s website

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