Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse
Jacobs & Co. is one of Toronto's most distinguished steakhouses. It's the type of powerhouse restaurant where pro hockey players, celebrities and suits hold court and celebratory crowds gather to splash out.
While top cuts of meat served with unerring consistency are the main attraction, the recipe for its popularity also includes first-rate service and a dash of ceremony that diners expect when dropping a couple bills on a single dinner.
The 180-seat restaurant is spread over two floors and comprises a main dining room, piano bar, private rooms, show cellars and walk-in aging room. In contrast to old-guard chophouses like the dark, brooding but kitsched-out Barberian's , this restaurant - bearing the same pedigree as the Buca empire of restaurants - is airy and modern, turning convention on its head by employing a light, muted, colour scheme accented by dark woods.
The Caesar salad ($18) tops our list of best caesar salad in Toronto for good reason. Rolled over on a cart, it's prepared from scratch tableside with plenty of theatrics as ingredients are emulsified, cheese sprinkled and lettuce flipped.
The result is, as anticipated, excellent, plenty garlicky and a little zippy from anchovies. It's not creamy, but the classic addition of an egg yolk adds richness, though they'll replace that with an avocado for a similar effect if requested.
Chilled seafoods are popular at the back bar, and the menu offers a few token mains for non-meat eaters, but meat is of course the main event.
The list of farm-specific steaks changes daily depending on what feels right in the aging locker, but if price is no concern, skip the printed version entirely and have the waitrons parade out a tray of raw choice cuts and just marvel at the marbling.
When a thick, 14-ounce Canadian Piedmont Angus ribeye ($50) is set on the table sizzling, I kind of want to bow my head and observed a moment of silent appreciation.
Then there's the sides - almost a dozen familiar steakhouse favourites to choose from. Vegetables like sautéed spinach ($12), mixed mushrooms ($16), or slow roasted beefsteak tomatoes finished with crumbled feta cheese.
There's also spectacular spuds like thick duck fat-fried potatoes ($14), mashed potatoes ($12), stuffed and baked potatoes ($13), au gratin ($14) or poutine ($17).
The vanilla cheesecake ($14) makes for a suitably decadent finish. The rich, creamy dome over a graham cracker base is paired with bright, tart counterpoints like lemon curd, blueberry coulis and lemon tuile.
The wine list is as thick as a book listing 850-plus labels, but the organizational system - by growing region - makes it hard to navigate. There is something for everyone at a wide range of price points but the price of bottles darts from $45 into the thousands.
Jacob's & Co. is the classic steakhouse experience, complete with stellar service, premium wine list and unabashedly massive portions of meat. The only thing it doesn't have is a stuffy, dated room.
Photos by Jesse Milns