Next Steakout

5 Sept 2017

La Boucherie on 71


#4 Fleming's - LA Live

Rating: 3.5 cows


Flemings is a fairly well-known steakhouse chain with locations across the country. Firmly ensconced in the "cheaper-than-Morton's-yet-more-pricey-than-Outback" category, the restaurant has the potential to hit the sweet spot of value and flavor. For the most part, Flemings delivered on this promise, but it wasn't a perfect experience.

We arrived at our reservation time and were seated promptly, even though the restaurant was quite crowded. This newest Flemings location is situated in the much-ballyhooed new LA Live entertainment complex right next door to the Staples Center. The decor was nice, but nothing really stood out. It didn't have the same vibe as a super high end place but it didn't feel kitschy either. The waiter was attentive, but perhaps showed a little too much interest in the hostess as compared with our table. His spirits were visibly dashed when he learned that many of us would be taking advantage of the "filet trio" special. It was clear he'd rather we order everything a la carte, and it showed.

When he realized that we weren't going to back down, he redoubled his efforts and things were better from then on out. The filet trio included a tasting of 3 wines to go with 3 petite filets, each with a different preparation. Each of the filets was cooked to perfection, although the problem with multiple steaks is that they cool much quicker so the overall experience is lacking a bit. The other steaks were cooked well, and while we all found the steaks to be very tasty, they didn't leave an exceptional impression with us.

It was a largely enjoyable experience, and definitely a very "good" place that will serve you a very good steak at a good price. You probably won't have the steak of your life here, but you're also not going to pay for it like it's your last meal.

Flemings Photos


#3 Outback - Burbank

Rating: 3.75 cows


Everyone has heard the commercials. "No rules, just right!" Yes, they're annoying and give us flashbacks of Paul Hogan brandishing a Bowie knife. But there's some truth in that statement. Outback isn't trying to outclass the competition ("no rules"); they're just trying to make a great steak ("just right"). But while much maligned among serious steak connoisseurs, we found that Outback is very deserving of their place on the list of great restaurants.

We know what you're thinking, and trust us when we tell you this was one of the best experiences we've had. We arrived on a Sunday to find it was all-day happy hour, not a bad way to start things off. Outback is casual. Really casual. The notion of a dress code probably extends only as far as the "no shirt, no shoes, no service" rule will take you, and even then we're not sure it would be enforced too strictly.

Of course we loaded up with beer and appetizers to get things going, and when a giant deep-fried and sliced onion is staring you in the face, you know you're in for tasty treat. The service was brisk and friendly, pretty much what you'd expect at a joint like this. Also as you'd expect from a casual steakhouse, the steaks all come with sides, and the prices are very reasonable. None of the steaks on the menu was over $30.

The steaks themselves were prepared quite well, with a nice dry rub to enhance the natural flavor of the meat. The cuts were well-sized and were of good, if not excellent quality. Everyone enjoyed his steak, the taste was better than any of us really expected. One thing that was lacking was the cooking however. If there's one element to steak that seems to vary the most, it's the cooking. Outback's steaks were all more or less medium, they didn't seem to differentiate between the nuances of the medium-rare. And I'd hate to take a chance on what a 'rare' steak might come out looking like.

That said, the experience was overwhelmingly positive for everyone. Perhaps it was our low expectations, perhaps it was the Happy Hour beers, but we all left satisfied and for much less than at either of our previous stakeouts. It was truly a pleasant surprise, and without question the best value we could have hoped for. If you're in the market for a budget steakhouse, Outback is currently our choice. We haven't been to Black Angus yet, but for us Outback really was just right.

Outback Photos


#2 Morton's - Beverly Hills

Rating: 4 cows


Perhaps one of the most widely-known of the upper-class steakhouses, it seems that many people say that the best steak they've ever had was at a Morton's. Not taking this endeavor lightly, Morton's was our second stakeout. There is certainly a lot of expectations at a place like this, but for the most part Morton's was a really excellent experience.

The decor of the place is very much that of a place where lots of people in business suits go to talk about how much money they're making. The wait staff even treats you like that even if you're clearly not. There's certainly no bones made about how much you're likely to spend here, but they do have prices on their menus which is nice.

The waiter presented us with the visual menu, displaying saran-wrapped choice cuts of steak and seafood, including a live lobster. It was a nice gimmick, but we weren't there for the lobster. The wine list is expansive and expensive, we opted for a single magnum against our waiter's wishes who would rather have had us ordered two. This was definitely the right choice for us, if not for our palates than for our wallets.

The steaks were all expertly cooked and seasoned. They were absolutely delicious and it was obvious that these cows did not die in vain. Perhaps the only knock against the steaks themselves was with the double porterhouse ($104). Split between two people, this monster cut is sliced at the table, which is really a nice little gimmick. While the steak was still cooked to perfection, it was divided vertically through the cut instead of horizontally within the cut. Thus the two porterhouses were not quite the same.

While the steak was unquestionably outstanding, the price tag was equally so. This is certainly not a place to go for any sort of value, but if money is truly no option then you will not be disappointed, and it just might be the best steak you ever eat. However, most of us do have to consider price when we dine out, and it was difficult for us to justify the price over a place like Ruth's Chris which is very good in its own right and will leave your wallet a little heavier. But there are many more places to try.

Morton's Photos


#1 Ruth's Chris - Pasadena

Rating: 3.5 cows


Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. An absolute classic. This was the perfect beginning to our journey in search of great steak. One of the great things about Ruth's Chris is that you pretty much know you're going to get a great steak. And so it was on this Monday evening, although everything was not quite as we expected.

One problem with a well-known place like Ruth's Chris is with such high expectations, it's much easier to disappoint. The restaurant was empty on this Monday evening, and the service was prompt an attentive. The ambiance definitely had a "business" feel to it but perhaps that was exacerbated by the fact that most of the other people there were in business attire. Nonetheless, it was a quiet and pleasant atmosphere in which to dine.

There were seven of us, and six different steaks of which to keep track. The waiter handled everything perfectly, and had some assistance in serving them all at once. Ruth's Chris is known for serving their steaks on a sizzling platter, so not only do you see the steaks as they're brought out, but you can hear and smell them too. Not a bad idea.

While the order was correct and the cuts were superb, the one thing lacking was the cooking. While one person's filet was cooked to absolute perfection, all the others were overcooked. Not by much, but but by more than we felt was appropriate at a place like Ruth's Chris. They're also known for their butter baths, and this should be taken into consideration when eating there. Most of us found the seasoning quite delectable but if you're not a fan of butter then you should be careful here.

The value here is hit or miss. We took advantage of a $39 special which included a full-sized steak, side dish, salad, and dessert. Given that some of the steaks alone cost this much, the deal was really quite good. Ruth's Chris is not a place we thought would measure highly on the value scale, but this seems like it's going to be a tough one to beat, at least for other steakhouses of this calibre.

The experience at Ruth's Chris was certainly enjoyable, even if most of the steaks weren't cooked properly. Again, this isn't to say that they weren't good, but just that we expected more from a place like Ruth's and on a night when they really weren't that busy.

Ruth's Chris Photos

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