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#35 Spear - Downtown

Rating: 4 cows


Taking over the space previously occupied by Le Ka, Spear is a relative newcomer to the Los Angeles steakhouse scene. Situated in the heart of Downtown LA, Spear features a semi-open bar area lined with a row of fire offset against the evening sky. The dining area features a mix of large communal tables, some smaller personal tables and even a private dining area. The ambiance can sort of be described as business modern with a touch of classic flair. It certainly feels very much at home amidst the tall buildings and suits, but some touches like the vintage light bulbs give it a slightly more comfortable feel. And while this isn’t something we usually remark about, the music selection was absolutely on point. With selections by Thom Yorke, Muse, Broken Bells, among others, the soundtrack was exactly up our alley. The dining room was rather loud even though it was relatively empty, so be warned this is not the place to go for a quiet romantic meal.

The bar has a fair selection of homemade cocktails, and the tenders definitely know what they’re doing. The Old Fashioneds we ordered were expertly prepared, and one of the house specials “Root to your Rye” was different, but very complex and enjoyable.

On to the food. The Caesar salad (which masquerades as the “grilled romaine”) is not your typical dish. A grilled salad is unusual to say the least. The taste of wilt and char on lettuce definitely takes some getting used to, and the inclusion of copious amounts of radiccho further complicates this dish. The dressing was good, but was barely noticeable amongs the other flavors. The pea soup and clam chowder were both good in their own right, but nothing overly impressive.

But we haven’t gotten to the real meat yet, and I mean that literally. Between the four of us we ordered two filets, a rib eye, and a porterhouse. Both filets (one medium-rare and the other rare-plus) were cooked to absolute perfection (though they were delivered on the wrong plates, which was a forgivable mistake), and both were delectable and bursting with flavor. The outside char was done well and the steaks were subtly seasoned with just enough salt to really enhance the flavor, which was incredible. The porterhouse was outstanding, cooked again to perfection and everything a great porterhouse should be. It was was well-sized, perfectly-seasoned and eminently satisfying. The rib-eye was also good, though perhaps not quite as good as the others. The char on the rib-eye was overdone and overpowered the flavor of the meat. Oh, and did we mention that all the steaks come with a side of bone marrow? Yeah, that doesn’t suck.

Spear has a very good accompaniment of side dishes, and we availed ourselves of the double-cooked fries, garlic mashers, uni risotto, duck confit mac & cheese, and the creamed spinach. The clear winners were the mac & cheese and the uni risotto, though truth be told the risotto could have used a bit more uni. Mac & cheese is a steakhouse staple, but this offering goes above and beyond. The fries, as has been the case in every single steakhouse we’ve been to, were adequate but ultimately underwhelming given the fine alternatives. The creamed spinach was creamed spinach. Nothing special, and pretty much the same as all the other creamed spinach you’ve had before. And then there's the garlic mashed potatoes, which we'll just leave at that.

Spear doesn't offer an extensive dessert menu (only 3 items), but what they do offer is completely house-made, which is very admirable. We split the key lime pie and chocolate mousse. Both were quite good, but didn't knock our socks off. You know, we come for the steak, but they still have to offer dessert. All in all these were fine choices, so no complaints here.

In summary, Spear surprised us all with the quality of their meat. The prices are in the upper echelon but not at the super high-end. Thirty-six dollars for a 7-oz filet and $52 for a 14-oz bone-in rib eye is what you should expect (the porterhouse was $68 for 20 ounces), but chef Greg Paul runs a fine kitchen and you won’t be disappointed. The ambiance is appealing, probably a bit moreso than Nick & Stef’s if you’re eating downtown, and it’s hard to beat an open-air (almost) bar with fire. We’d definitely go back here again, and give it a hearty recommendation.

Spear LA Photos

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