Tiffin Project

The Roof at Black+Blue: Emad Yacoub Unwraps Another Stunner

by Tim Pawsey on April 15, 2013

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I’m never really surprised but I am often amazed by what Emad Yacoub gets up to. He’s the dynamo behind Vancouver’s ever-expanding Glowbal Group. Come April 25th, Yacoub will take things at Black & Blue Steakhouse to the next level—literally—when he officially opens  The Roof at Black+Blue.

Even getting a streetside patio permit in Vancouver can be challenging. But talk to anyone in the know about opening a roof deck and you’ll soon find it’s a project from which most shy away.

It’s easy to see why. There was a time when there was no shortage of roof-top dining in Vancouver, including the Hotel Vancouver’s Roof and Sylvia Hotel’s Dine in the Sky. But the reality was that such ventures were the domain of hotels. And they were usually supplied by kitchens on the ground floor (or basement), with little or no guarantee that your Dover Sole would arrive remotely hot. In those days, maybe, few cared. But that’s changed. Over the years almost all of those classic rooftop haunts have disappeared.

In short, today, you can’t open anything in Vancouver unless you do it right. Even a roof! Especially an outside roof!

Yacoub says it took 18 months (and not a few dollars) to get this deck done. Ever since opening Black & Blue he’s talked about a roof deck on the top floor. But a stand-alone, 120 seat restaurant? Indeed. Plus The Roof at Black + Blue has its own, dedicated, state of the art kitchen.

But why not listen to what Yacoub himself has to say about The Roof?

It’s all about the oven…

At the core of The Roof at Black+Blue is a one of a kind (for Canada)  Wood Stone Josper mesquite and charcoal oven. It’s similar to others being made for top tier steakhouses in Chicago, LA and New York.  Yacoub saw it being demo’d last year in Chicago and decided he had to have one.

When we arrived to check things out, Wood Stone corporate chef Frank Milward and Roof at Black+Blue executive chef Jason Labahn were busy putting the stove through its paces. They were gearing up to cook a variety of prime cuts (including Kobe). At temperatures of up to 925 C (1700 F) the Josper can seal and cook a large steak to perfection in just four minutes or so!

^ Done to perfection in just over four minutes

Given the intensity of the heat the results were as impressive as promised. The meat was beautifully lined and evenly cooked through, moist and flavourful with no seasoning other than salt and pepper.

The Roof at Black+Blue Josper stove (which has evolved from an oven originally conceived in Barcelona) has its own damper/flame suppressor to manage air with the door closed. It can reach peak temperature in an impressive 45 minutes. It’s extremely efficient, using about half the charcoal a normal grill would use.

How much did it cost? $20,000 for the appliance—although Yacoub reckons it was $160,000 after jumping through all the hoops and red tape.

^ Not to be overlooked, the 20-layer chocolate espresso cake with brandied cherries …

Raising the Roof!

As for the space, no question it’s a stunner. Guests are whisked to the BOX Interior-designed roof via a private, glass-walled elevator. During the day The Roof at Black+Blue will be bathed in sun during peak hours. But there’s also plenty of moveable shade from state of the art parasols. At night you can be toasty under a small army of heaters, as well as wall to wall enclosed fires on either side and  also fire-tables. Yes, there’s no shortage of flame at this uber steakhouse!

Oh. And as for what’s next? Four more Trattorias, starting with the new Park Royal Village later this year, to be followed by two in Burnbaby and one in Richmond.

~ Tim Pawsey

*Article originally published at HiredBelly.com

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

carlos April 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm

This company has many successful restaurants but I wish just one of them was very good instead of just mediocre. Have eaten at all of them and mediocrity seems to be the common thread. He is a good imitator of other North American restaurants, unfortunately his execution is very poor. I wish Vancouver had more critical diners, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Just bring on more Kegs, Cactus Clubs etc, etc. Vancouver diners are still living in the seventies when it comes to dining.

sean April 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm

It could be worse (for Egyptians). Emad Yacoub has admitted that he would likely have been a cop in Cairo, instead he owns and runs a stable of average restaurants, good for him and no REAL harm is done. It helps sometimes if you look at the bigger picture.

Carlos May 1, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Sean, you are missing the point. That was the big picture. If he had only 1-2 restaurants then that would be the small picture.
I’m sure he is a good guy who employs lots of people. I just don’t accept mediocrity at his prices.

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