Sunday-dinner classics, served with a side of extravagance
By Steven Sandor | March 15, 2022
In a time of hectic schedules, working through the weekends and online distractions, the idea of the Sunday dinner is becoming lost. A grand occasion where a couple — or a family — gets together, with many of the classics on the table.
Hayloft Steak + Fish, the new concept from the Robert Spencer Hospitality Group, headed by chef Paul Shufelt, is all about the Sunday dinner — except, with a massive dose of largesse. The interior is sleek, with wood panels on one wall, and a glass chandelier in the middle that looks as if it was made from shattered ice. After you sit down, the server comes with a card that shows off what cuts of meat are available on the day. The steaks are aged, and there are choices between the prime cuts we all know, and a few that might not be the first to pop into our heads when we think of a big night out.
After sipping on the OG Old Fashioned, with a splash of soda and grapefruit to liven up the drink, my wife and I choose the tenderloin, with a lobster béarnaise sauce. It is what our parents would have ordered in 1978. But, we live in a time when we’re fleeing back to the foods that give us comfort, and steak slathered in seafood sauce is a nod to a time when the steak house was the epitome of a night out. It is the steak Sinatra would have ordered, and chased down with a half-bottle of whiskey. It is served without sides — those are ordered separately. We order it medium-rare, and it is gloriously pink inside, with just the right hint of salt. It really is glorious.
Because it is “steak and fish” and not just “steak” we also order the steelhead trout. It’s sourced from British Columbia’s Lois Lake. Like the steak, the preparation is spot on — the skin has crisped slightly, but the pink meat is buttery soft. Two additions make this truly memorable; the smoked tomatoes add gentle sweetness, while the dill sauce is a clever way to reintroduce one of the most-loved ways to add herbs to fish. The green dill sauce balances the salt to take the sharpness of the dill away; the result is something that’s far more subtle and luxurious than what I expected.
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The brussels sprouts, served crispy, come in a serving large enough to take home and enjoy with a beer, afterwards.
Dessert; the apple tatin is flaky and comes with a healthy scoop of Pinocchio ice cream. The lemon meringue semifreddo was a pie, deconstructed into a tart, a refreshing collection of delicious bits. Now, at a lot of fine-dining spots, dessert is something served in tiny portions, meant to be eaten with dainty, tiny spoons. But, here, dessert is something for which you need to save room. The tatin required a knife and fork.
Located just off the Cameron Heights exit on the Henday, Shufelt is showing us that memorable dining experiences don’t have to be limited to High Street or downtown or Whyte Avenue. Since we just learned that we will have a baseball season in 2022, let’s put it in simple terms — Hayloft is a home run.