Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca can get my vote next week.
All he needs to do is take me to the Keg. That’s not a big ask. Based on an investigation by Global News, it seems the man really loves the Keg.
As Colin D’Mello reported, Del Duca’s Vaughan-Woodbridge riding racked up more than $50,000 in hospitality expenses between 2013 and 2018. This is when Mr. Del Duca — or Mr. Filet Mignon, as I now lovingly call him — served as parliamentary assistant to the minister of finance, minister of transportation and minister of economic development and growth.
During this five-year period, this included $14,437 spent at the Keg.
OK. I have never had an expense account. I’ve taken celebrities out for drinks for stories and picked up the tab, don’t tell my wife. I am also not here to defend boondoggles or Liberal entitlement or any splurging on the taxpayer dime. But wasteful government spending in Canada is like Pho to Vietnam: it’s our national cuisine. If someone told me Justin Trudeau was expensing $1,500 a week in merino argyle hosiery, I would not need smelling salts. Politicians love to spend our money. It’s what they do best.
What I will not tolerate is any slander of the Keg.
The chain was trending on social media this week after snarky tweeters mocked Global for suggesting it might qualify as an “upscale restaurant” or “ritzy steak house.” The Daily Hive published a story — “Hilarious reactions to The Keg being called high-end by Canadian broadcaster” — that included pushback tweets such as, “Nothing against The Keg but it’s about as ‘high-end’ as The Olive Garden” and “Damn with The Keg trending I’m craving a chewy overdone steak.”
This is bonkers. Anyone who says the Keg is roughly equivalent to the Olive Garden must also believe Walmart is in the same league as Hermès. Sorry, performative liars on Twitter. I have consumed many steaks at the Keg and not one was chewy or overdone.
You order medium rare, you get medium rare. End of story.
The Keg has red meat down to a gustatory science.
Behind only my family and friends, there is nothing I love more in this world than the Keg. Oh, laugh all you want. But the Keg is an ambient oasis, a balm for the soul. If you were to hack me — please don’t — and scrutinize my calendar, you’d find “Keg Boys” entered dozens of times.
If I tell my wife and daughters I’ll be out Thursday with the “Keg Boys,” there is no confusion. They know this means I’ll be having martinis with the Star’s resident geniuses Raju Mudhar and Kevin McGran, the Globe’s dazzling Cathal Kelly and the mighty Liam Casey of The Canadian Press. These are my Keg Boys. They are my superheroes.
And the Keg on the Esplanade is our Wakanda.
If you want to criticize Liberal Leader Mr. Filet Mignon for chewing up tax dollars, fine. But do not question his favourite restaurant.
You know how some people dream of visiting the Seven Wonders of the World? My bucket list is to visit every Keg until I’m sick of the tuna tartare, escargot, baked brie, calamari, shrimp cocktail …
Spoiler alert: I will never get sick of those magnificent appetizers.
I’ve been to most Kegs in this province and every sip, every morsel, was perfecto. I know this reads as a paid ad. It’s not. It’s from the heart. What can I tell you, I’ve never had a bad meal at the Keg. I’ve never had bad service. I’ve never had a bad experience. I can reserve a table, regardless of the event or company, knowing there will be no disappointment.
This is not true for some quote-unquote ritzy steak houses in this city. I have had bad meals and bad experiences at some of those swish joints. I have glanced at the astronomical bill and winced with regret. Many “high-end” restaurants oversell reputation while underdelivering on quality and value.
But at the Keg, you know exactly what you’re going to get. You’re going to get charming servers who know the menu inside out. You’re going to get atmosphere. You’re going to get complimentary bread that is so hot you need oven mitts to tear it apart. You’re going to get daily Happy Hour specials second to none and a deceptively sophisticated wine list that should be required reading for the sommeliers at the snooty bistros in our midst. You’re going to get flawless steaks cooked to your desire.
You’re going to get a great night out.
And that is why I refuse to pile on Ontario Liberal Leader Mr. Filet Mignon. If nothing else, the man has great taste. If he spent $14,437 at Tim Hortons, that would be disqualifying at next week’s election. But any dollar that goes to the Keg is a dollar well spent, even if by taxpayers.
Mr. Filet Mignon’s campaign told Global these expenses were “legitimate.”
He’s right. There is nothing more legitimate than the Keg.
What say you, Steven Del Duca? Take me to the Keg and get my vote. Doug Ford? Andrea Horwath? I will extend the same deal to both of you. Take me to the Keg and you can have my vote. I’m going to leave the Green Party’s Mike Schreiner out of this, only because I fear he might insist we both order the Crispy Fried Cauliflower.
Steven Del Duca loves the Keg.
And now, quite unexpectedly, I love him.
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