This modern steakhouse, which stands for New and Old, is brought to us by Hanif Harji’s Icon Legacy Hospitality, Charles Khabouth’s Ink Entertainment and their Executive Chef Stuart Cameron (@). They’ve got an excellent track record with Patria, Byblos and Weslodge. NAO Steakhouse (@) is another wonderful addition to their growing empire.
As we’d expect from any of their restaurants, the space is stunning. With soaring ceilings over two floors, walnut paneling on the walls, African oak herringbone floors and an impressive custom chandelier made with clear acrylic tubing, it really does have the ambiance of a modern steakhouse.
To come up with the menu, Executive Chef Stuart Cameron went on several research trips to Asian-Pacific countries. With inspiration from his trips, he’s re-interpreted regional ingredients to create a contemporary Asian-American steakhouse experience.
NAO offers carefully-sourced premium cuts of meat including A5 Kobe beef (Japan), single-pasture US Wagyu (Iowa), David Blackmore’s famous full-blood Wagyu (Australia) and grass-fed USDA prime dry-aged a minimum of 40 days. They also feature a selection of larger cuts of meat carved tableside which includes a bone-in USDA prime Chateaubriand for two.
Asian-pacific flavours are evident while going through the menu which includes shiitake mushrooms barrel-aged in soy sauce and crispy homemade tofu coated in ground chorizo and red bean paste.
Oh, and we can’t forget about the mixology program at NAO led by Michael Garrett previously of Weslodge, Bar Isabel and Origin. He’s developed a fantastic cocktail list – I wanted to try them all!
Last week I attended a media dinner at NAO and was impressed with their offerings. Here’s a look:
Orange Spiced Old Fashioned – Bulleit bourbon, orange spiced simple syrup, Angostura bitters, Bitterman’s chocolate mole bitters ($15)
Basho Sour – pineapple infused sake, fresh lemon juice, hibiscus syrup, egg white ($15)
The Arsonist’s Escape – Tromba tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, chipotle coriander syrup ($18)
Tuna Tartar – with Bibb lettuce, avocado, puffed rice, wasabi ($22)
Lao Raw Beef Tartar – squid ink chips, kaffir lime, chili ($17)
Whole Branzino – Red Yuzukoshō marinade, ponzo brown butter ($45)
Canadian Black Hide Angus (Guelph, Ontario) - 20oz bone-in Chateaubriand
Crispy Vidalia Onion – white soy sour cream ($12)
Seasonal Mushrooms – pickled, crispy, roasted, Rayu ($14)
Shredded Kale Salad – pickled shiitake, spicy sesame dressing, fried shallots ($13)
Baked Alaska – white chocolate parfait, strawberry sorbet, pickled strawberry ($18)
Raspberry Sorbet – Chianti wine, anglaise crème, mint, candied lemon ($10)
We had such a satisfying meal at NAO! My personal favourites were the tuna tartar, whole branzino, Chateaubriand and both desserts. The tuna tartar was served in a platter with the various components of the dish which our server subsequently began to prepare table-side. I normally prefer beef tartar but the tuna really did it for me this time – creamy avocado, a nice kick from the wasabi and puffed rice for some crunch. Delish!
A big surprise for everyone was the whole branzino. When you come to a steakhouse, you expect the steak to be amazing and other proteins to play second fiddle. Not at NAO. Not only was it a gorgeous dish but the branzino was cooked impeccably and the flavours from the marinade and ponzu brown butter married together wonderfully. If you come with a group, I highly recommend trying the fish in addition to some steak. The bone-in chateaubriand would be an excellent choice.
They really pay attention to the details here. From the hand-made custom steak knives by local blacksmith Frederick Scanlen to the table-side service including the preparation of their house steak sauce. They make a killer steak sauce here and it was fun watching them prepare it with all the various ingredients.
Both desserts we tried were a wonderful end to the meal. It’s been a while since I’ve seen baked Alaska on a menu and NAO’s version (which serves 2) was a real winner. The strawberry sorbet in the centre of the dessert made it very light and refreshing as was the raspberry sorbet dessert. They’re both great choices to end off a heavy meal with.
NAO certainly isn’t your typical old-school stuffy steakhouse. With great cocktail offerings and seafood options, they’re more than just great steaks!
*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post, as always, are my own.*