Hy's Steak House - When Two CABs Make Dining Fine
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Hy's Steak House, located in the Holiday Inn Resort, was recently featured in the "Guam Food Guy's Top Picks for Appetizers, Entrees, and Desserts" (Directions Magazine, October 2004), and was listed there based on prior experiences. Although Hy's has gone through some adjustments and has endured what can fairly be called a tarnished reputation, my most recent excursion to Hy's this week was actually much better than I'd expected and had been further enhanced by the meeting of two "CABs". The two "CAB"s to which I'm referring are the "Certified Angus Beef" Steaks we ate and some excellent Cabernet Sauvignons by Beaucanon Estates that were recently introduced to Guam by Quality Distributors and are now available at Hy's.
The restaurant industry on Guam suffered the consequences of both acts of God and acts of men in the years since this millennium started, and any establishment that has managed to keep its doors open is to be commended. Sometimes, the service and quality standards can be affected by survival decisions. This is ragingly apparent in those establishments where the service expectation is highest. Hy's has been positioned in the upper echelon of fine dining for years. Although the menu mis-states that Hy's meat is air flown fresh from Canada, the reality is that they are using Certified Angus Beef, which from where I'm sitting, tastes as good as the best meat from any country.
Let's cut to the chase. Hy's Steak House is a fine dining establishment, where I received attentive service as well as ate a meal I could easily recommend. Take the Escargot a La Hy's ($9.95), which takes some culinary liberties to create a new product. Six sublimely seasoned escargot are immersed in a rich butter bath along with Mozzarella cheese that's melted to a stringy, silky softness, which when placed atop the rye bread slice, inspired me to call it "escargot fondue"! If you're squeamish about buttered snails, then you might consider Hy's Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell ($9.50), which were another appetizer I can recommend. The tangy cocktail sauce was laced with capers, which added a special touch. The Baked Oysters Rockefeller ($9.95) are a Hy's standard, and they are the "cooked" alternative to their raw brethren.
During the appetizer courses, we shared a few glasses of an extraordinary Beaucanon wine that I believe is unique to them called Trifecta. The 2000 vintage from this Napa Valley vineyard combines 3 great grapes to make a superbly drinkable wine (66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc) with intense dark cherry and blackberry fruit characteristics. If you are a wine aficianado and you see this bottle anywhere, give it a try...you won't be disappointed. This wine stands well on its own, and my fascination with it had nothing to do with Hy's special garlic toast I was given prior to our appetizers' arrival!
We had the Pacific Seafood Salad ($9.95) as the next course. This was my first time having this salad as I usually like Hy's Caesar or Warm Spinach Salads that are made tableside. This delicious salad mixed fresh greens with crab meat and prawns, in a light dressing, over which I squeezed an extra lemon slice to marinate the seafood more to my liking. A secret ingredient we worked to identify was anchovy, which providing a provocative intensity.
It was time for the steaks! I ordered the 22 oz. T-Bone ($30.95) and my partner had the 16 oz. Rib Steak ($25.95) both cooked medium rare. My baked potato was traditional, and came with all the fixings (fresh chives, fresh bacon bits, sour cream and butter) which Kristner, my jovial server portioned out into my "split" (you have to "squeeze split" your potato to accommodate the toppings) tuber. My partner opted for the more elegantly presented (I daresay "coiffed") stuffed potato, which blended bacon, sour cream, butter and chives into a creamy rich pile of whipped mashed with bronzed broiler streaks atop a carved out half-potato shell). During this course we paired a 2000 Beaucanon Cabernet Sauvignon, which brought a range of spice and fruit flavors with its deep, rich crimson color, including black cherry, clove, rosemary, and green olive, layered by cedar, tobacco and spice. The steaks were beautifully presented, with criss-crossed grill marks denoting their stature, and they were accompanied by finedene and steak sauce (A-1 I believe). These steaks were so good that they didn't need any sauce or other flavoring, however, we asked for a peppercorn sauce to enhance the wine and the result was a superior total steak experience. It was the caliber of this beef that made this steak exceptional. The steamed vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots) plated with the steak were textured perfectly.
While we were halfway through this steak course we opened the Beaucanon 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon "Jacques de Coninck" Reserve Selection, which has to rank among some of California's finest and possibly the world's top wines. Penetrating, intoxicating, and mesmerizing, this magnificent wine brought hints of almond interacting with black currant, black cherry, spice and tea, with a complex finish born from its sweet oak barrel. This is an impressive blend you could count on, with a deserving price that won't take the blush off a special occasion. As this was a limited Reserve Selection, our bottle's number was 3554 from a total yield of 10,068 bottles. For those who care, these numbers accord some type of pedigree. I noticed our server kept looking at the empty bottle when he thought he had finished pouring. Apparently, the bottle is made with a thicker glass which makes it weigh about half again as much. This is done to maintain temperature and quality.
Somehow, don't ask me how, we were able to find room for dessert. It was recommended we try the Banana Split Flambe ($11 per person, serves 2) which would be prepared tableside. Therese, our charming preparer, capably sauteed the bananas in a rich butter sauce and caramelized sugar. The brandy flame-up always gets attention, but in a place like Hy's, it happens often, since people regularly order the Cherries Jubilee ($9 per person). I guess the concept of a banana split is appealing, however, when the bananas are sauteed and flamed, I would have been happy just to have Haagen-Dazs without the nuts, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup, since you can't taste the chocolate beyond the spiced bananas. Better yet, since they have both Illy Caffe and Hagen-Dazs, they should blend the two to make a crowd-pleasing espresso ice cream dessert. Nevertheless, this had proven to be a suitable way to cap off a deliciously decadent dinner, which must have lasted 2-1/2 hours.
Hy's Steak House is open 7 days a week, with dinner service starting at 6pm. Hy's closes when the last customer leaves. Hy's has several private function rooms, one is in a room affectionately called the "library". It's recommended that you make reservations by calling 647-0077. I recommend you try Hy's for a special dining experience, where two "CAB's" and a whole lot more can make dining fine!