I go to Milestones Grill + Bar from time to time, mostly the location near Parliament Hill. Not too often, as I find the faux-branché atmosphere sometimes a little on the annoying side. Milestones, which was founded in Vancouver in 1989, has grown fast since Cara bought the chain in 2002, and now has 45 locations in British-Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.
I went there for lunch with a bunch of colleagues between two meetings, and hesitated for some time as I studied the menu. Despite the “a little of everything for everyone” approach, I was really undecided. Salads, Sandwiches, Burgers and Wraps, Pasta, Asian-style, Steaks, Chicken and Seafood. They even have a Gluten-Free selection, which I assume is appreciated by those on a Gluten-Free diet.
The food is generally good, if overpriced. Which perhaps leads to the aforementioned hesitation.
After a few minutes, I settled on Milestone’s version of comfort food, from their menu’s urban classics section: The Kobe Style Classic Meatloaf. Apparently, meatloaf were once very popular with the urban scene.
The service was prompt and efficient (if familiar), and my meatloaf arrived promptly.
The meatloaf comes topped with lightly fried onion strings and is served over their garlic mashed potatoes, with a shiitake mushroom au jus and seasoned vegetables, in this case carrots and green beans. Fresh parsley was used as a garnish.
First, let me talk about the meat, which is the key ingredient in a meatloaf. If meat is not the key ingredient, then it is not a meatloaf. In Milestone’s case, do not be fooled by the label. They say Kobe Style. So don’t believe it is actually Kobe beef. It is not, as explained here by Penny and Rusty. Another clue, on top of the “Style” keyword, is that the meatloaf would likely cost more than the $19.99 asked by Milestone’s if it was Kobe, as real Kobe beef would have to be imported from Japan. This would actually be beef coming from a Wagyu crossbreed – a mix of Wagyu and Angus cattle. That said, I do not know if one could really see the difference in a meatloaf anyway.
The dish looked very nice, the presentation appetizing. On the veggie side, the carrots and beans were quite good, crunchy and tasty. The garlic mashed potatoes are very smooth, a tad salty, but not overflowing with garlic. The fried onion strings however did not please me at all. Nothing against lightly fried onions, but you’ve got to make sure there is not too much flour, as the result is unpleasant and powdery, as opposed to buttery and crunchy. A miss.
The Shiitake mushroom au jus is not that at all – it is actually a thick mushroom gravy, quite rich and salty. Lots of mushrooms in it, but it could be lighter, like an actual au jus…. And it certainly could be less salty. The sodium level for the whole dish is actually 1300 mg, and I have no doubt that the gravy is the biggest packed with sodium culprit. Milestones offers only 6 entrées with less than 800 mg of sodium. Chains have a tendency to use a lot sodium, something that is much less of a problem for independent restaurants with actual chefs as opposed to line cooks putting together pre-prepped meals.
That said, this Kobe Style Classic Meatloaf is rather good. The meat is tender, moist; the beefy flavour powerful. The portion is quite reasonable, one does not feel cheated, despite the steep price. Satisfying.