Vintage Chophouse and Tavern
By Ellis Choe

Recipe for Success

The operating manager quit the week Vintage Chophouse opened its doors, leaving owner Lance Hurtubise to take his place. It was a rough start for the steakhouse, but with patience and hard work, Lance built Vintage Chophouse into an award-winning, go-to spot for premium steak and wine. The Beltline establishment has earned the prestigious Birks Silver Spoon award twice since it opened on the corner of 11th Avenue and Second Street Southwest in 2003. It also won Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence six years in a row.

Perhaps these accolades are due to Lance's more than 40 years experience in the restaurant industry. He began as a humble dishwasher at the age of 12. He then graduated to bussing tables, waitering and later became a manager at The Keg. He created the Moxie’s chain and now sits as owner and CEO of Vintage Group, a company that owns and oversees seven Calgary restaurants with more on the way. Through it all, his love for the industry has only grown.

“I enjoy coming to work,” says Lance. “I like pleasing people. I like to have a good time, and I like to see other people have a good time. We’re in the pleasure business. We don’t get tire kickers. People come in for a good time, so it’s a happy place.”

Vintage Chophouse is owned by restaurateur Lance Hurtubise.
Vintage Group owner and CEO Lance Hurtubise says Vintage Chophouse customers visit for a good time, so the restaurant delivers just that. Photo courtesy of Vintage Group.

Prime Time

For steak lovers, Vintage Chophouse is that happy place. It serves up only the best – Canadian prime all the time. “It’s all about the ingredient and respecting the ingredient,” says executive chef Kaede Hirooka. This means handling ingredients from start to finish with TLC, doing all the butchering in-house in a fastidiously clean kitchen.

Beef can even be custom-cut to a customer’s liking. But not before it's wet-aged for 60 days to maximize tenderness and deepen its flavour. “If someone calls ahead and wants a 20-ounce cut to impress someone, we’ll do it,” says Kaede. “We do what we need to do to make the customer happy. We’ve even done halal beef for customers. I would say we are one of the few steak houses in town that would bring in a grass-fed whole tenderloin for one customer and cut a 14-ounce tenderloin and 14-ounce ribeye for them.”

Although beef tends to be the star of the menu, Kaede proudly ensures his fish options and side dishes are just as exemplary. As much as possible, dishes are prepared with fresh, Western-Canadian ingredients.

Vintage Chophouse serves fish as well as beef.
Vintage Chophouse chef Kaede Hirooka prepares fish dishes as well as premium beef. Photo courtesy of Vintage Group.

Award-Winning Wine List

Accompanying those premium cuts of tenderloin and tuna is a wine list that is rivalled by very few in the city.  With a deep and varied selection, Vintage carries more than 600 wines from around the world. California labels are very popular, with Napa Valley’s award-winning Caymus, for example, being a top seller. French wines are in high demand as well.

“We have a pretty deep Bordeaux selection,” explains manager Jason Cameron. “We probably have close to 80 French labels. We have all the five First Worlds. We have Chateau d’Yquem and we have several different Grand Cru from Burgundy.” Ultimately, Vintage Chophouse's attention to customer preference explains its loyal following over 15 years.

“It’s a no brainer for us,” says Jason. “Give people what they want, do it well, and they’re always going to come back.”

Vintage Chophouse serves an award-winning wine selection.
With a deep and varied selection, Vintage carries more than 300 wines from around the world. Photo courtesy of Vintage Group.
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