When our favorite steakhouse in Kensington Village announced a new partnership with an Alberta hormone-free beef producer, they decided a press release wouldn’t cut it. Instead, Premium, the top bull in Canada, along with his lovely four-legged escort, rolled up up in prime style. Soon that name tag on his ear will be upgraded to match his new moniker: Benchmark Modern Steak.Inside the VIP dining room at Modern Steak, third-generation cattle farmer Michael Munton explained why his business tagline is “Engineering Superior Beef.” Much of it is the marbling…Michael whipped out his smartphone to show me Premium’s fat stats. Seen in the blue, the average bull in Canada has .39% fat, while Premium’s marbling (in the white) is a whopping 1.86%, making him worth every cent of the $75,000 Modern Steak paid for him. His value as a prime papa will turn a profit pretty darn quick. Mike tells me his stud fees are $30-55 bucks a straw. And Premium is prolific. He can produce 2700 of those units in a week.But enough of the numbers… Modern Steak had a table of hungry media to feed.The first course of the four-course menu was steak tartare, made with – you guessed it – Benchmark beef. And a surprising white wine pairing: Four Star Chardonnay, a delicious vanilla-scented offering from California’s central coast. Of course, no self-respecting food blogger would take a bite before taking a pic, like Irene Seto on the right. On the left, Avenue Editor Kathe Lemon politely waits to dive in.The next course was ravioli, filled with Benchmark dry aged braised short ribs, ladled with mushroom consome, topped with adorable pickled himeji mushrooms and bubbling grand padano foam. The server tried in vain to get us to eat at peak foam, without pausing to take photos.Overheard kitchen drama just before delivery of the third course: “These plates look like sh*t!” No, Gordon Ramsay was not in the kitchen. But yes, Modern Steak’s chef cares just as much.However, the plates looked fantastic to Mr. Fab and the rest of the reporters. The Benchmark Angus prime grade ribeye was cooked to rare perfection.Dessert was beef-free but equally delicious. Pavlova, a tonic bean meringue with fruit salad, lemon curd and dotted with basil mint gel, went well with the paired moscato, but I always enjoy a fine wine lineup to aid my consumption. Which was why I denied the server trying to take them away from me.While the prized bovines relaxed before their trip back to Benchmark HQ in Warner, AB, Modern Steak owner Stephen Deere hinted at a new venture: Modern Burger. He was mum on the details, but perhaps a little bourbon will loosen his lips. Modern Steak and Benchmark will partner up again for the Official Jack Daniels Stampede Dinner on Tuesday, July 11.
Tucked away on 10a, a side street off the main drag in Kensington (that would be Kensington Road), is a new take on the slabs of beef we’re so fond of stuffing ourselves with in Calgary. In possibly the softest launch ever held, Modern Steak’s media showcase on Monday night took place a month after its official opening. But working out the kinks meant the soiree was a smooth, well-oiled machine of excellent service, libations and food.