Rating: 3.5 cows
Nestled in the heart of south Culver City right next to a Del Taco is the famous yet seemingly unknown George Petrelli Steakhouse. Owned by the Petrelli family since 1931, this landmark has a loyal following of satisfied patrons. Unlike some of the other historic places we've been, it's clear that Petrelli's has been updated over the years. The interior is reminiscent of a hotel restaurant. High-backed booths fill out the dining area, the walls are off-white and the carpet is dark. The bar is adequately stocked and the tender will make you what you want but this is not a place to indulge in cocktail exploration. Stick to the basics and you'll do fine.
Petrelli's prides itself on offering high quality steaks at "family prices". Indeed your wallet will thank you after a visit here, steaks range from about $30-40 and all include a salad, soup, bread, potato, and veggies. Suffice it to say you won't leave here hungry. Among the 4 of us we ordered the NY Strip, the extra big Porterhouse, and the Cowboy bone-in Rib Eye. We all started with the Ceasar salad, which while certainly not in the upper echelon of salads, was more than adequate and would prove to be an early indication of what was to come.
The steaks were generously portioned and came with sauteed vegetables and potato (we all ordered the baked potato). Normally at a mid-range establishment, our experience has found the steaks to be overcooked, if slightly. Not the case at Petrelli's. We all ordered medium-rare, and every one arrived closer to rare than medium. This was a pleasant surprise, since there's just no excuse for an overcooked piece of meat. It would have been nice if the steaks were a bit hotter; while they were cooked just as we liked, they were without the nice char that you get from a really nice searing. So they don't grill their steaks in an 1800 broiler like Peter Luger's, but they were very good, surprisingly so. The baked potato was served piping hot (hotter than the steak) and our server personally topped each potato with our chosen mix of fat and cholestorol. The vegetables were flavored but overcooked and unremarkable.
Another nice surprise at Petrelli's was the hot fudge sundae on the dessert menu. Perhaps the most classic dessert, this gem is not often on the steakhouse menu. We jumped all over this one, and soon after regretted our choice to do so. The fudge was sitting in a pool around the base of the ice cream instead of being poured on top, the ice cream had freezer burn, and they charged $0.50 extra for a tablespoon of peanuts sprinkled on top. Not exactly the experience we hoped for.
But thankfully for Petrelli's, the sundae was but a sidenote. The steaks were good and priced well. Of all the historic Steakhouses we've been so far, George Petrelli's is one of the best if not the best. We were a little disappointed that the decor wasn't original but we can't really blame them for updating their look over the years. And in terms of a budget steakhouse, you'd really be hard-pressed to do much better than Petrelli's. We would certainly eat there again.
Rating: 4.25 cows
Attached to one of Los Angeles' more monolithic shopping malls is the location of Steakout XXX: The Capital Grille. The interior is befitting of an upscale steakhouse with a dark, yet comfortable bar area and personalized wine cubbies for those who just can't afford to store their Veuve Clicquot at home. The dining area is a bit brighter, with white tablecloths and visibility into a part of the kitchen on one side.
We arrived on a Tuesday night with a smaller party than usual — just four of us — and the place was modestly occupied. The service was quite good, with a single knowledgeable waiter attending to us. We began with the Caesar salad and a spinach green salad. The Caesar was excellent, with a tangy homemade dressing complimenting the fresh lettuce, cheese shavings and croutons. The spinach salad was also tasty, though it arrived with ample mushrooms which were not on the description. It was sent back and the replacement was much improved.
We each ordered a different steak: the Delmonico Rib Eye, Filet, Porterhouse, and the Wagyu Filet. All steaks were cooked expertly and plated while still hot. Let's get right down to it though: the Wagyu was in a world unto itself, with uncompromising flavor and texture. It was easily the star of the night, especially with its price compared to similar offerings at CUT, Mastro's, or Larsen's. The Rib Eye (bone-in) showed exceptional marbling and was cooked to perfection, juicy and with lots of flavor. Both the traditional filet and the porterhouse were also excellent.
The side dishes were all good, but as usual there was nothing spectacular. Standards like truffle fries, creamed corn (with bacon, naturally), and sautéed spinach were all pretty much what you'd expect. The scalloped potatoes were done a bit differently with a crumble on top, but otherwise it's your typical dish.
For dessert we were craving some ice cream and chocolate, and asked our waiter if we could order a hot fudge sundae even though it wasn't on the menu. He returned to tell us they did not have any fudge, but they were able to put together a respectable showing (though the off-menu sundae ordered from Larsen's remains our favorite).
During our meal we asked our waiter if we would be able to visit the area where the steaks are aged. At first we were told we wouldn't be able to view the aging room, but that we might be able to see the kitchen. By the time we had finished our food it was late and most of the guests had left, and we were allowed behind the curtain to meet chef Brent Jaeger and get a tour of his domain. Lots of delicious steaks-to-be were stored under refrigeration, waiting 21-28 days for their time to be cut, cooked, and served. No photos allowed, but you can take our word for it that these guys know how to prepare their meat.
Overall, The Capital Grille delivered a great experience with some very worthy cuts of steak. It's not going to be an inexpensive meal when you dine there, but that is often the case with great food. And if you've still yet to try your first Wagyu-style steak, this is probably the best deal you're going to find anywhere. Bon appetit!
Rating: 2.5 cows
Established in 1946, Billingsley’s is a West Los Angeles steak house with a décor and atmosphere exactly as you’d expect from a restaurant of that era. If you’re thinking Musso & Frank’s or The Buggy Whip, you’re in the right frame of reference. At the entrance hangs a signed picture of Barbara Billingsley of “Leave it to Beaver” fame as her sons were the ones who started in the restaurant business in nearby Van Nuys before opening this location.
The setting is old but comfortable and the service friendly and prompt. The clientele: mostly older, mostly regulars. We thought a place with as rich history as Billingsley's would be busier, but the place was rather empty. There’s a bar area where you can grab a very inexpensive drink and watch the game. The drinks won’t be the most amazing but for the price, they're certainly decent.
A glance at the food menu shows that there’s plenty of cuts to choose from, all modestly priced. Most everything is about $30 and that includes a soup or salad, side dish, and garlic cheese toast. As usual we ordered a number of different steaks including the New York, Filet Mignon, and the Porterhouse. All cuts were cooked exactly to order (medium rare) but severely lacked any distinguishable flavor. For an additional $1.95 you can add a bleu cheese crumble or other sauce, but none of us took this option. If this is the only way to get a decent flavor on a steak, perhaps the server should have let us know. We tend to not recommend returning to locations where steak sauce is necessary.
The side dishes were not spectacular, about average or maybe below that depending on what you order. For the same price, North Woods gives you a colossal sized baked potato and unlimited (and much tastier) garlic cheese toast. One of the more disappointing aspects of the meal aside from the flavorless steak, was the Caesar salad. The dressing is clearly bottled and wasn’t even tossed into the salad. The croutons were easily the best part of the salad, which is saying something. Those who chose the split pea soup fared a little better.
When all is said and done and you need a steak to fill your empty stomach, Billingsley’s can do it for not too much money, but the question of flavor comes to mind and there are quite a handful of places that can provide that for the same price. Billingsley’s seems like a place that is resisting change in order to satisfy their older loyal customers, but what it’s clearly not doing is winning over the younger “foodie” generation. With so many choices out there, Billingsley’s needs to try a little harder… especially with their steak. And that Caesar salad.
Rating: 4 cows
The Palm is a fairly large national (plus London) chain restaurant specializing in steak. Sitting at the higher end, The Palm competes with the likes of Morton's in the upscale steakhouse category. Los Angeles has two franchises, one in West Hollywood and the other in Downtown. For Steakout XXVIII we dined at the Downtown location.
This was the first time any of us had been to a Palm Restaurant before. The ambiance is reminiscent of early 20th Century restaurants; the kind where you'd probably wear a suit and a bowler. But of course times have changed, and it was no surprise that the bar was packed with patrons wearing LA Kings jerseys in anticipation of the Western Conference Semifinal game being played just a few hundred yards away at the nearby Staples Center.
The dining area at The Palm is large, and with 20-ft ceilings the room feels even larger. Caricatures of celebrities adorn the walls up and down and the place is bright and airy with tile floors and white tablecloths.
Service by the waiters was adequate and perfectly respectable, but it was not a highlight of the evening. But that's ok, because that's not why we were there. We ordered a mix of filet, NY, and rib eye. Both of the filets were cooked to perfection, though they were a bit drier than we'd like. The New York was certainly above average, but not as flavorful as we would have liked, and it was fattier than it needed to be. The bone-in rib eye was especially delicious, exceeding our expectations in both cut, cooking, and flavor. It was also a healthy size at 24 oz and provided some leftovers for another day.
While the steaks were certainly above average, the side dishes were certainly more modest. We ordered the spinach and the au gratin potatoes along with the "half-and-half' which was a french fry/onion rings combo. All were adequate, with the potatoes being our overall favorite while the half-and-half was too greasy for our tastes. The caesar salad was good, but far from the best we've had.
We ordered a bottle of wine to share for those who weren't drinking cocktails. The wine list at The Palm is both extensive and expensive. They have comparatively few wines under $100, and most are well above that. This is not uncommon by any means, but that doesn't make it any less noticeable.
Overall we enjoyed our steaks at The Palm, though the value wasn't quite where we hoped it would be to give it our heartiest recommendations. That said, if you dine here you are not likely to get a bad meal, and a steak almost certainly should be your entree.