Rating: 4.00 cows
When it comes to steak, Los Angeles has plenty of delicious options. For the most part, the best slabs of meat are concentrated in two areas: downtown and Beverly Hills. Both of these locations have a reputation for fat wallets and satisfied diners so this comes as no surprise. But way out west of the 405 freeway, (but not as far as Santa Monica) lies the neighborhood of Brentwood, and the site of Steakout XLII: Baltaire.
You'd probably miss it driving by, without any street-facing signage, Baltaire exists not for you to stumble across it, but because you sought it out. Through the oversized wooden doors the airy bar greets you warmly. Off to the left, the dining area extends out from under the roof into an open-air table arrangement in the courtyard. Beams of afternoon light pour in from the large front windows next to the lounge that flanks the bar. Style and comfort are the main themes here.
The bar menu is predictably expansive (yes, Pappy is here), with a generous selection of all your favorite liquors. Our bartender mixed up some excellent drinks for us while we waited for our party to arrive. No worries about maraschino cherries in your Old Fashioneds at this place.
The steak menu at Baltaire is befitting a restaurant that charges $50+ per cut. they have filets (boneless and bone-in), a strip, Kansas City, porterhouse, rib eye, and the ever-so-chic Australian Wagyu for $25/oz as of our seating.
We started off splitting an array of salads including the Caesar and the Bibb. All were well made, though one of our half orders took conspicuously longer to arrive than the rest. That turned out to be a considerably minor hiccup however, since we later learned that the Bibb salad contained candied walnuts, though it wasn’t called out on the menu nor was it mentioned by our waiter. Since one of us his allergic to tree nuts, this was a rather unwelcome surprise. When confronted with the oversight, the staff was very apologetic, and our waiter even claimed he had no knowledge of the walnuts. They comped the salad and offered to bring a replacement. Outside of that, the salads were quite good, but nothing we would describe as best-in-class.
We ordered a bottle of wine for the table to go along with our meat and sides. When the waiter came to bring our wine, he apologized for not having the vintage shown on the menu, and offered the same wine from a few years later. This happens from time to time, but we asked for a comparable replacement from the sommelier, which we later found out did not exist. Not every steakhouse employs one, but we were surprised not to find one here. As the replacement wine was brought, the manager came by to apologize for the incident with the walnuts and offered to comp our first bottle of wine. It was a generous offering which we appreciated.
Ok so let's get to the main course. Between us we ordered the 8-oz filet, the 12-oz filet, the rib eye, and the strip. No Wagyu for us this time. To accompany our slabs of cow we had the Brussels sprouts, asparagus, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and of course the obligatory pomme frites. All sides were $12, so this may be the most expensive order of french fries we've ever had. And, like every other order of fries, while they were tasty enough, they continue to be the biggest sham in the steakhouse sides business.
The Mac and cheese was especially delicious, one of the best we've tried. The vegetables were well-seasoned and tasty too, while the mashers were bland and uninspiring.
The steaks themselves have a nice char on the outside and an excellent texture. We ordered temperatures ranging from medium rare to rare+, with the latter yielding especially flavorful results on the 12-oz filet, which was definitely a highlight. One of the rib eyes came noticeably overcooked, and though we never enjoy sending back a steak, this one went back to the the kitchen. The NY strip was good, but not what we'd consider great unfortunately. It was drier than we'd like and just didn't have the flavor we've been accustomed to at place of this caliber. The replacement rib eye was a huge improvement over the first one and immensely satisfying. This is how you do a rib eye ladies and gentlemen. Bummer it took them two tries, but it was worth the wait.
To finish our meal, we ordered the key lime pie and peach crumble which was their special of the night. We wanted one each for us all to share, but somehow our order was misinterpreted and they brought out two of each. I think the waiter could tell by the confounded looks on our faces that something was amiss, and he offered immediately to not charge us for the extras. So what's a few hundred extra calories when you've already stuffed your face with steak and sides? We couldn't let that food go to waste. The verdict was clear this time: the key lime pie was just fantastic while the crumble was good, but not great. Maybe it was still a bit too early in peach season.
It's hard to summarize this place. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, the service had a few hiccups, and the steaks were mostly very good, occasionally great and sometimes missing expectations. Even the dessert and sides seem to be split. We feel there's a really great end-to-end experience just waiting in there, but it didn't quite come together for us this time.