Next Steakout



#50 Chianina - Long Beach

Rating: 4.5 cows


It’s not every day you get to visit a steakhouse with its own herd of cattle, but this was our situation on a Sunday evening in Long Beach as we prepared for Steakout #50. Chianina (pronounced Key-a-nee-na) opened in December 2013, on Naples island in Long Beach’s East end. Owned by local restauranteur Michael Dene, Chianina’s claim to fame is owning their own private herd of cattle from which their most exclusive steaks are cut. Chianina is the name of an Italian breed of cattle, not widely known here in the U.S.

The exterior is unassuming, and the interior is modern and minimalist. Some of us arrived early and partook of the Happy Hour specials—$8 for select cocktails and a tantalizing $32 steak dinner that was half off. Being (hungry) men of science, we ordered the steak to split, along with our cocktails. The meal came with fries and a salad. Three of us split it, and every piece was executed well. The salad was crisp and fresh, the fries were above average, and the steak was tender and well-cooked (but not well-done). It’s hard to imagine a better appetizer for our dinner. The complimentary truffle popcorn was also a nice touch.

The dining room at Chianina is small, with room for only about 15 tables. The bar overlooks the dining area with about 12 stools facing a few television screens. The atmosphere isn’t loud, but neither is it quiet. There is lots of grey here. The walls and much of the furniture are adorned in one or another shade of it.

For our meal, we sampled the very best Chianina has to offer. Four of us split their signature Bisteca alla Fiorentina (porterhouse) which clocked in at a delectable 55oz (MP $290). We ordered the Beef Tasting ($115), featuring 4oz selections of NY Strip from three varieties of beef—the namesake Chianina, Prime Black Angus, and American Wagyu. Rounding out our order was the Piedmontese NY ($48) and the Petite Filet Mignon ($42). For sides we ordered the Brussels sprouts, carrots, gnocchi, and the potatoes au gratin. We also kicked things off with the Caesar salad, which was every bit as good as most steakhouse variations, but failed to really stand out. That’s OK though, we didn’t come here for the salad.

On to the main course. Steaks. In a word, they were fantastic. The Bisteca is no joke, a gargantuan steak closing in on around 2” in thickness. The steak was table-filleted and one of the best cuts of meat we’ve tasted. It was flavorful, juicy, and cooked to perfection. When we ordered, our waitress cautioned our “rare plus” preference, telling us that the steaks are “true to ordering”. This threw us for a bit of a loop, since we’ve yet to have a rare plus steak that felt too raw. She was right however—the rare plus steaks we ordered were cooked exactly right, and they were delicious. Somewhere there may be footage of Geoff gnawing on the porterhouse bone, protecting his “precious”.

The Beef Tasting was excellent as well, though the Chianina cut (which tends to be leaner) wasn’t the favorite. Instead, the Prime Black Angus won the taste test with the Wagyu coming in a close second. That’s not to say the Chianina wasn’t delicious—it was—but it may be our tastes prefer a slightly more marbled variation. 

The NY and Filet were also top notch and both were expertly prepared. The NY gets the edge in this case, the filet was a touch drier than we would have liked. That said, if filet mignon is your steak of choice, ordering it likely won’t disappoint. True to its cut, the NY had rich marbling and a robust flavor, triggered by the nice char on the outside.

The sides were definitely above average, with the Brussels sprouts a standout here. They were crispy and cooked with a basalmic reduction and cracked hazelnuts—probably the best interpretation we’ve yet tried. The gnocchi was tender, but lacked flavor. The au gratin were good, but it’s pretty hard to mess that up. The carrots and greens were pretty good too, and a pleasant departure from the standard steakhouse side dish offering.

Closing out the evening was a banana, caramel and chocolate ganache concoction. None of us were really hungry, but a few bites of that was a great way to close out the night.

It was not hard to rate Chianina. This place is solid on just about every front. The drinks, steaks, sides, service—it’s all really good and we highly recommend it. It’s not always easy for us to agree, but our 4.5 Cow rating was practically unanimous. Thanks Chianina for helping us celebrate our big 5-0!

Chianina Photos


#49 La Boucherie on 71 - Downtown LA

Rating: 3.50 cows


Rising up from LA’s concrete jungle, higher in fact than any building west of the Mississippi, the Wilshire Grand Center is home to one of the newest entrants to the Los Angeles steakhouse scene. Nestled seventy-one floors above ground level, La Boucherie on 71 is a gorgeous restaurant with sweeping views of the surrounding skyline. No space was ignored—even the bathrooms could make you queasy if you’re a bit acrophobic.

First things first. The bar at La Boucherie is elegantly appointed, both by alcohol variety, mixers, and other fixings. The bartenders seemed a little standoffish at first, as if they were trying to be particularly proper, but then didn’t hesitate to casually chime in to our conversation. The old fashioneds were excellent. Of course it helps when you you have a solid base (Buffalo Trace), but a great old fashioned is much more than a bit of bourbon. For $16, this was well worth it, and that’s not even counting the ambiance or the view.

Our party of 6 was seated at around 8pm, and we chose our dinner from LED-backlit menus, which reminded us of our meal at Larsen’s. The wine list was delivered via iPad, which was a nice bit of technology, although the app they were using left a lot to be desired. But we’ll give them a pass for that. The wine list is extensive as you might imagine. The median price for a bottle of red appeared to be around $3-400, with a few options under $100 to consider. We went with a 2006 Syrah from Santa Ynez that was very good at $99.

La Boucherie is French-inspired, which also should come at no big surprise. Most of the French influence is felt in the appetizers, with options such as frog legs and pickled vegetables in lieu of more traditional options such as a Caesar salad. The steak selections are ample, with at least 10 different cuts available. Most are available boneless or bone-in, and they also throw in a few Wagyu options as well (sold by the ounce). Be prepared to throw down at this place though, most steaks are in the $80+ range, with the Wagyu options going between $30-35/oz (minimum 6 oz).

They started us off with a raspberry-flavored amuse-bouche and bread service. The bread was interesting—instead of delivering a basket to the table, each person was served a single piece of bread. Five brioche and one baguette. After that, we were asked to select our cutlery from a knife menu—a definite first in our 48 other steakhouse trips. There were 10 different knives to choose from—all of which we presume were more than capable, so it kind of came down to personal preference, offered with a bit of unstated hubris.

For a proper appetizer, we went with the bison filet. This was our first time trying bison steak, and it seemed like a good way to try out a new flavor without sacrificing our main meal. Fortunately for us we each only got a few ounces. While bison burgers are often more juicy and delicious than a beef burger, we don’t think the same can be said for bison steak. The steak was ok, but tougher than we would have liked. Also, the top of the steak had a pretty thick layer of doneness that affected the flavor of the rest of the meat, which was cooked rare plus as we had asked.

The steak also came out colder than it should have. It tasted like it had been sitting out awhile before it was served to us, which makes sense given that it took a long time for it to come out. The staff were apologetic and offered another one, but given what we knew we had coming, we declined. They later removed the bison from our bill.

Awhile later, the main courses were served. Among us we ordered the bone in and boneless filets, two porterhouses, an Italian rib eye, and a NY strip. Here it was sort of a mixed bag. The filet was very good, and cooked to perfection. It was drier than many other filets we’ve had, and while this is certainly the trick with a filet, we felt that for the $80 price tag, although it was strong, it didn’t quite live up to itself. On the other hand, the bone-in version was exceptional, and easily worth the $15 premium. It was tender as can be, juicy and full of flavor; a truly excellent steak. The porterhouses, strangely enough, were on the cheaper side of things. Sporting both a NY and a filet, this steak usually claims top dollar. When they were delivered, we saw why. Both porterhouses were less than 1” thick, and just did not resemble the cut we expected. The filets and strip portions were barely discernible with hardly a bone separating them. They were both cooked to order and tasty, but just didn’t satisfy. Both the “Piedmontese” rib eye and the NY were very good steaks in both texture and flavor, but really didn’t stand out in the way we’d expect or hoped.

We ordered 4 sides for the table. The asparagus was fine. Cooked well and tasted like asparagus. The Pommes Anna (cooked potato slices with butter) was quite good, but also quite small. The duck fat fries were good, though not great. So the mushrooms were the clear standout (for those of us who like mushrooms), 3-4 different types sautéed with butter and a touch of salt.

Speaking of salt, there was a lot of salt at La Boucherie on 71. At multiple points they offered an array of 8-10 different salts, which we tried with our appetizers and steaks. While they were good, it was easy to overtake the flavor of the meat, and these steaks were good enough that they really didn’t need any extra salt. So it was more of a novelty than anything else, though they were good. They also had a surprising assortment of mustards, which like the salt was interesting on its own, but seemed a touch out of place. Maybe it’s a French thing, but these steaks didn’t need the mustard either. If you like salt and mustard to go with your steak, then you’ll be happy here. Otherwise, don’t be fooled—these steaks don’t need either.

One area where La Boucherie stands above the rest is the prices of their desserts. While we’ve experienced $80+ steaks before (notably at Alexander’s), this is the first place with dessert options averaging $20. While we usually would never shy away from a chocolate sundae, this one was $18 and by the waiter’s own admission the smallest of all the dessert options.  We opted instead for the Mousse au Chocolat, a $22 concoction with a chocolate sphere filled with sorbet and ice cream, set alight with rum and melted into a gooey mess. It was very good, and certainly shareable.

In the end, while we had good food and great views, ultimately we found it hard to recommend this place unequivocally due to the high prices and slow service. That isn’t to say the waiter wasn’t cordial and accommodating, but it took us almost 3 hours to finish our meal, and it was not due to the place being packed (as far as we could tell). It also did not appear that there was a legitimate reason for things taking as long as they did.

If you’re in the area and looking for a steak dining experience near the top of a very tall building with sweeping views, then you could do a lot worse than La Boucherie. But we felt that the prices were reflective of the building, of the views, and less for the actual steaks. Don’t get us wrong—these are very good slabs of meat. But all things considered, we weren’t swept up in the way we were hoping. 

La Boucherie Photos


#48 The Royce - Pasadena

Rating: 4.00 cows


Pasadena’s Langham Hotel is a swanky joint which deserves its own swanky restaurant. The hotel’s signature eatery is The Royce, once specializing in New American fare, the space now features an excellent selection of steaks, sides, appetizers and desserts. The latest incarnation led by chef Dominique Shelton opened in 2013.

We started at The Tap Room, the bar across the way from The Royce inside the Langham. They make a pretty good, if expensive ($16) old fashioned and offer a nice assortment of complimentary bar snacks featuring wasabi peas, spiced candied nuts, and mini toasts.

The dining room at The Royce is bright and light with deep blue accents throughout. It’s not a large dining area, and the atmosphere is calm and quiet but not uncomfortably so.

The steak selection at The Royce is lengthy. With over 10 different options from different farms including Australian and authentic Japanese Wagyu, it was an uncommonly tough decision of what to order. We decided to start things off with an appetizer of steak. The Japanese Wagyu clocks in at $30/oz, and us not wearing gold-lined pants decided a small sample would suffice. We split a 4oz tenderloin which was, as you’d expect, brimming with flavor, succulent and juicy, and just incredible. If only we’d been able to order more. 

We also tried the caesar salad and lobster bisque, which were both adequate but not great. The caesar dressing tasted a bit too much like mayonnaise, which is not a flavor profile best accentuated in that context. The anchovies helped round out the flavor, but they appeared to be offered solely as a garnish and not worked into the dressing itself. The lobster bisque was good, but failed to stand out.

For our main courses we split our orders among 6 different cuts. Two rib eyes (one bone-in, one boneless), two strips (one Australian Wagyu, one domestic), and two filets (from different farms). The stars of the night were the filets, both were spectacular and the wood-fired flavor was very noticeable but not overpowering.  The filets were thick and cooked exactly as they should be (rare plus is the new medium rare). The New York strips were also quite tasty, though the thinner cut zapped the flavor ever so slightly. The rib eyes were also very well prepared, both cooked to perfection. The robust smoky aroma seemed a little less prevalent on these but they were both very good steaks. After trying a cross-section of 7 different steaks we feel confident that there are subtle differences between them, but probably not quite enough to justify the higher-end cuts unless you spring for the Japanese Wagyu. All of the steaks here are good, so get the cut you like best and you will be satisfied.

And not just satisfied with cow meat, we also created a DIY surf-and-turf by ordering a crab cake. It was perfectly acceptable, but in our opinion not up to the level of quality of the meat. 

To accompany our meat, we ordered a slew of side dishes. The standout was the brussels sprouts, which were absolutely fantastic, probably the best vegetable side we’ve had yet at any of the steakhouses we’ve been to. Truly extraordinary. Every steakhouse needs to have truffles on the menu somewhere, and The Royce is no exception with its truffled spinach. Surprisingly tasty and not overly powerful, this was another favorite. The creamed corn and mac & cheese got mixed reviews, the corn because of the unusual spices and the mac and cheese because the noodles tasted boiled rather than baked. Last but not least: the french fries. Against our expectations, these hand-cut beauties are actually quite good. While it still feels wrong to pay $8 for them, we have to admit they were one of the better steakhouse french fries we’ve tried so far.

To round out the night, we finished with an order of beignets. These were excellent: a large fluffy inside surrounded by a crisp outer shell, doused in cinnamon and sugar. The chocolate dipping sauce was a perfect accompaniment to this delicious dessert.

The Royce is a great place to get yourself a delicious steak. The service was good, and the selections here are very extensive across a range of price points from about $46-74, which is certainly on the higher end of things, but not outrageously so. We would definitely recommend giving this place a visit. Overall we really enjoyed our food, the atmosphere, and you probably will too. 

The Royce Photos


#47 Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse - Trabuco Canyon

Rating: 3.50 cows


We don’t typically frequent a steakhouse just because of a gimmick, but this one had tickled our interest for some time, and the timing was finally right to give it a try. Trabuco Canyon is not an area known for steak, in fact it’s not really known for much of anything other than being in the middle of almost nowhere. As you might guess from the name, “rustic” is a good word to describe the place. Lots of wood and canteen lights, friendly staff and not a hint of pretense. You might say it’s a casual place. In fact that might be selling the place short. They don’t want no city folk riding up in their suits and ties, so if they see you wearing a tie, they’ll cut that sucker right off. They even did it to Richard Nixon (he’s the only president whose picture can be found inside).

The bar is small, but the drinks were better than we expected. Honestly that’s not saying terribly much, but the standard drinks used quality alcohols (Tito’s) in lieu of low-quality wells. The Bourbon Sangria was just what you might guess—sangria with bourbon—but was surprisingly good, though it could have used a touch more bourbon. The Mule and Old Fashioned weren’t showstoppers, but adequate. This is not a sophisticated cocktailery, so keep your orders simple and you’ll do better. The bar service was slow, but with just a single bartender doing her very best, our party of 8 was probably the reason.

Inside the diminutive dining room hang the vestiges of neckties long since shorn. They adorn the walls and dangle from the ceiling like strange trophies. The dining room is also very dark. It almost felt like we were dining in a cave. 

Most of us who were drinking opted for beer as opposed to wine. They did serve wine, but you couldn’t really call it a wine menu. The tap selection was slim but there were good quality brews to be had.

This also marked the first time we had jalapeño poppers and onion rings as an appetizer, but it just seemed like the right thing to do here. Two orders were perfect for our group of 8, and while certainly not why we went there, they were quite tasty all the same.

Steaks at Trabuco Oaks come with sides (salad, potato, and beans). They also serve garlic toast with each meal. Prices are slightly on the high end for a place that comes with sides, but the value here is still quite good. There’s only one salad here, and it’s unremarkable and overdressed. The french fries were actually pretty good, and the baked potato was fine, but small. The garlic toast left much to be desired. It was certainly toast, but it lacked a good garlic (or butter) flavor which left us wishing for offerings from North Woods Inn or The Dal Rae. The western beans (served in a large silver pail) were fine, but not quite our cup of tea.

And then there’s the meat. We didn’t know quite what to expect here, and we were all pleasantly surprised. We ordered the small filet, the ribeye, and the NY. Their steaks are mesquite grilled, and this flavor is very evident as you sink your teeth in. The steaks were seasoned reasonably well (some better than others) and they did a great job of cooking to our order (rare +). The quality of the meat was what you’d expect at this more moderately-priced steakhouse, which is to say mediocre, but there was a surprising amount of flavor, helped in no small part by that mesquite grill.

The desserts were also squarely in the “good” category. The sundae was too heavy on the whipped cream and light on the ice cream. Same with the Apple Gizmo, though the ‘gizmo’ part was quite good (apple pie filling wrapped in a tortilla and deep fried). The mud pie looked good but the flavor fell flat unfortunately.

Trabuco Oaks is a tough place to judge. We had a great time, and the people were wonderful. The no tie rule is a fun gimmick and they wear it with good-natured pride. While you’re not going to get the best steak of your life, you’re also not going to pay that much for a hearty meal and a savory slab of meat that’s better than most places at this price. Expectations are probably key to your enjoyment (or lack thereof) here, so if you adjust yours accordingly you’ll walk out with a full and satisfied stomach, and definitely without a tie.

Trabuco Oaks Photos


#46 Ocean Prime - Beverly Hills

Rating: 3.50 cows


Located in Beverly Hills, Ocean Prime neighbors with some stiff competition. Both CUT and Mastro’s are but a stone’s throw away, and both sit at the top of our ratings thus far in our journey.

Operated by Cameron Mitchell, Ocean Prime is part of the rejuvenated eponymous restaurant group with origins in Columbus, Ohio. The bar is divided into two sections which straddle a walkway to the underground parking structure. We started there and partook of the happy hour offerings, which were good despite not including their Old Fashioned. 

The dining room is dark and sleek, packed with business types entertaining clients or their wives or girlfriends. We were seated promptly and well attended to by our waiter.

We started with our usual wedge and caesar salads which were solid across the board. Some places try to fancy things up but we’ve found the best success when they don’t try to do too much. Ocean Prime does well in this regard. The same can be said for the side dishes which all tasted good. We ordered the standard french fries, corn, and truffle mac & cheese. It’s weird to think of truffle mac & cheese as being a standard, but it certainly feels like that nowadays. Once again, we were underwhelmed with the fries.

On to the meat. Ocean Prime’s cuts are generous and this is a place that knows how to cook a slab of meat. We ordered the Rib Eye, Filet, and the NY Strip and they all tasted good. The rare-plus filet was especially decadent and bursting with flavor with a crisp light char on the outside. Our biggest complaint was that while the steaks were certainly above average, they didn’t quite live up to the prices compared to other places we’ve been. That’s unfortunate, but as we’ve mentioned there is some seriously stiff competition just down the road.

The dessert offerings were good, and also featured standard selections (cheesecake, compote, ice cream). We tried a few and they were good, but nothing outstanding.

Overall we felt that Ocean Prime is a nice place to get a very good steak. It’s better than your average steakhouse, but given the location we find it hard to recommend this place over its outstanding neighbors. Still, if you find yourself here you’ll likely enjoy a good meal even if the price is a bit high.

Ocean Prime Photos