Next Steakout

5 Sept 2017

La Boucherie on 71

Monday
Oct102011

#19 Pacific Dining Car - Downtown

Rating: 3.5 cows

 

Buried in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles is one of the older steakhouses around: Pacific Dining Car, since 1921.  The exterior doesn't look like much but the inside is furnished and decorated with the finer touches of an old train, complete with luggage.  The ambiance is rather nice and comfortable with warm hues, roomy booths, and plenty of tables.  For a restaurant that is open 24 hours a day, it has certainly aged well (though many rooms may be recent extensions).  There is a small bar tucked all the way in the back with a decent variety of spirits and there are plenty more private areas for parties or filming as well.  There's even a room that Johnny Depp dines in when he frequents this location, so they say.  

For a large party of eleven on a Monday night, we pretty much had an entire room to ourselves and service was pleasant and attentive enough but leaning on the slower side.  The wait staffare dressed in tuxedos, which essentially translates into higher prices.  You wouldn't want the typical Denny's patrons here so classing up the joint is almost a necessity. We sat down in what were without question the most comfortable chairs of any steakhouse we've dined at so far. Seriously, these chairs are amazing—comfy, with ample padding and sized just right. It was an auspicious beginning for sure, but we're not here to critique the furniture, now are we?

Overall, the steaks (including their specialty Cowboy Steak) were cooked properly and tasted good.  But these weren't the largest steaks you'd expect to get for the price you pay.  There is also a selection of sauces available but most steaks were better without them. The biggest disappointment in the meal, however, were the sides and the desserts.  Again, bringing up the value, the sides just didn't taste like anything special and the portions were extremely small.  This was the first time we had to order additional side dishes for the table.  The desserts were actually an even bigger disappointment than the sides.  I didn't think it was possible to ruin a sundae but they managed to do just that.

It's a shame about the sides and desserts because everyone wanted to really love Pacific Dining Car.  The quality of the steak here was more than acceptable, but not exceptional and not quite what we all expected for the price paid. We would gladly return here if we needed a steak at 3am, but a meal is more than just steak, and the quality of the sides and desserts leaves too much to be desired. Then again, maybe that's what you should expect if dining at 3am?

Pacific Dining Car Photos

Friday
Aug122011

#18 Arroyo Chop House - Pasadena

Rating: 4 cows

 

Although the Arroyo Chop House is a relatively new addition to the Los Angeles steakhouse scene, having opened just 14 years ago, the ambiance evokes that of an establishment which has been thriving for at least twice that long. With the traditional dark woods and accents, walking inside not only smells like steak, it looks like it too.

The Chop House sports a small bar area which is divided from the kitchen by a row of tables. They have full bar service with a good selection of liquors. There are some smaller dining rooms and a patio area as well which can be closed in when the weather isn't agreeable. We were seated in one of these rooms, and the service started off well, with bread and drink orders. The menu at Arroyo doesn't mince words. Vegetarians need not apply; this is a place where animals go to die, and for that we should all give thanks. There are ten different cuts of steak to be had here, and the prices are moderately high but certainly not unreasonable.

Overall we were impressed with the quality of steaks. This was not the first time that many of us had been here, though it was the first time we had gone together as a group. The size and cut of the steaks was excellent, and though they offer a selection of sauces, chances are your steak will taste better without them. Together we had the NY Strip, Filet, Ribeye and Porterhouse. All were impressively cooked and very flavorful. The side dishes were adequate, but certainly nothing exceptional. Not that we went there for the sides, but it's still an important part of the overall experience.

Now that we've been to a number of steakhouses around this mid-upper price range, it's becoming clear that the major differentiator is the quality and aging of the steaks rather than the cuts, cooking, or seasoning. Those latter elements are crucially important to a great steak experience, but most places seem to get them just about right. However Arroyo does well with steak cuts that seem just a bit higher grade than their prices suggest. The steaks were excellent, though they lacked the exquisite taste and delicacy of places like Mastro's and Cut.

Finally, though we usually get at least one dessert to share, sometimes we need to go a little further. This was one of those times, as Arroyo is renowned for their soufflés, especially the chocolate. We ordered 3 in total—two chocolate and one creme brûlée. All were delicious but the chocolate is the clear winner here. Easily the best dessert of any of the place we've been to, this one is not to be missed if you have room after your juicy steak.

Arroyo Chop House Photos

Sunday
May222011

#17 Boa - Hollywood

Rating: 3.75 cows

 

Boa has been located on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood for many years but recently moved further West on Sunset. We decided to make a visit to their new location for our continued adventure to find the best steakhouses in Los Angeles. We chose a Sunday night to attend Boa because Boa has a long standing special of ½ off wine bottles on Sunday. Given that the majority of our group are big wine drinkers we thought this was an excellent deal.

The restaurant is very nicely decorated but a large portion of the seating is outside. Most of that area is covered but on the night we decided to visit it was quite chilly outside and sitting outside proved to be too chilly for some of our guests. Fortunately, the staff at Boa were able to move us to a large table inside. The downside was that the waiter serving our table was already overwhelmed with many other tables. This obviously caused our dining experience to be a very lengthy one. Fortunately we had a few ½ bottles of wine to help keep us entertained during that time. In addition one of our guests ended up with gum stuck on her dress from gum that was stuck to the bottom of the table. This would be perhaps one of the last things we would expect to have happen at a nice restaurant.

If you aren't aware of it already, Boa is another steakhouse whose specialty is in dry aging. Their signature cut is a 40 Day Dry Aged New York Strip. However, the rest of their steak menu is made up with a decent selection of New York Strips, Rib Eyes, Filet Mignons, Kobe Beef and a Porterhouse.

Between the members of our group we selected two 21 Day Aged Rib-Eyes, two Porterhouses, a 40 Day Dry Aged New York Strip, and a Petit Filet. When the steaks started to arrive, we discovered that the Petit Filet was delivered to our table overcooked and had to be sent back. Considering how overtaxed our waiter had already been this slowed things down even more. Eventually, we all received our steaks cooked to the correct temperature and we quickly dug in. Overall we found all of the steaks to have flavor but given the high profile of Boa we expected a lot more flavor in the steaks. That isn't to say the steaks were completely flavorless but instead that we were left wanting more flavor in our steaks. The Porterhouse was given the highest rating and had the most flavor but the rest of the steaks ranked average. In addition to our steaks we selected a selection of different sides ranging from vegetables to french fries and mac and cheese. Like the steak, the sides were alright but nothing spectacular.

In the end we found Boa to be lacking in the quality that we've experienced at some of the other well known LA steakhouses; Morton's, Mastro's, CUT, etc. One of our members had eaten at Boa at the previous Sunset location over 5 years ago and had a much better experience and was very disappointed in how the quality had dropped. The only reasons we can think of for the drop in quality would be perhaps the move down the street and the expansion to two additional Boa restaurants in Santa Monica and Las Vegas was perhaps too much of a stretch for the company. Our final rating for Boa averaged to 3.75 cows putting it pretty much smack in the middle of all of the reviews we have completed at this point.

Boa Photos

Sunday
Mar202011

#16 Nick & Stef's - Downtown

Rating: 4 cows

 

Located in the heart of downtown L.A., hidden off a patio amidst a sea of tall buildings, you may have passed by Nick & Stef's steakhouse without even knowing it's there. Indeed the location is somewhat unbecoming of an upscale steakhouse, but don't let that fool you into thinking that this place doesn't take its steak seriously.

The bar area is smallish and awkwardly shaped, stuck in a large corner by the entryway. The bartenders are capable and you even get a view of a stone patio where you can watch the workday crowd slowly trickle out.

The dining area is starkly decorated, with muted colors so as to not distract you from the reason you're here. Adjoining to the kitchen is Nick & Stef's signature aging room. Here you'll see racks and racks of beef quietly waiting to be cooked up when the time is right. If you don't see it on your way to your table, your server will be more than glad to point it out to you for an up-close inspection. And no, you cannot choose your own steak.

The menu at Nick and Stef's gets right down to business. There's the steak, the premium dry-aged steak, a few non-steak options, and the salads and sides. If you're the kind of person who likes a glass of wine or two with your steak, you'll be happy to know that they have a good selection of wines from around the world perfect for any price range. You'll be even happier to know that they don't have a corkage fee, so that Château Pétrus Bordeaux you've been waiting to open won't set you back any more than it already has.

The steaks here were very good. We felt that the price to value here was just about perfect: the prices are not cheap, but they certainly don't occupy the highest end of the steakhouse spectrum. And the steak is commensurate with that; a very good cut and finely aged piece of meat, cooked well to your liking and served at the just the right temperature. This may not be the best steak you ever eat, but it's excellent and well above average. All our steaks were cooked just right, and there was not a bottle of steak sauce in sight. The steaks were well-sized and nicely blackened, which made for a delicious and enjoyable meal.

Not to be outdone, the side dishes were surprisingly good as well. The popular made-at-your-table caesar salad was very good and ample in size, while the classic wedge was good, but not outstanding. The mushrooms and mac and cheese were also excellent, as were the au gratin potatoes.

The servers were friendly and attentive and did a fantastic job accomodating our somewhat large party of 6. When we finished our meal, we were even treated with some homemade peanut brittle, nicely wrapped for us to take home and snack on. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable meal and we wouldn't hesitate to come back and eat here again.

Nick & Stef's Photos

Thursday
Feb242011

#15 Dal Rae - Pico Rivera

Rating: 3.5 cows

 

During our ongoing steak adventure, every once awhile we get to visit a venerable old steakhouse borne from the halcyon days of the mid-20th century. Our visit to Dal Rae was another such experience.

Dal Rae opened in Pico Rivera in 1958—the same year that baseball arrived in Los Angeles. And like baseball, a good steak is about as American as you can get. The bar area is completely separated from the restaurant and includes booths, short tables with low-back chairs, and the usual seats right at the barkeep. The dining room evokes the feeling of being at an elegant banquet; the lighting is ample but comfortable and not too bright.

The signature steak at the Dal Rae is their pepper steak. You might say that there's a tasty steak underneath all those onions, peppers, and bacon bits, and you'd be right for the most part. We felt the pepper was a bit overpowering to the steak. It tasted good, but it wasn't really that necessary and actually took away from the steak because, to quote Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction "they fuckin' drown 'em in that shit". Two of us had the bone-in rib eye, which was cooked as ordered and tasty.

The side dishes weren't anything particular to write home about—the breadsticks were tasty and the vegetable platter was a nice addition. The french fries were mediocre, and the surprise order of cheese bread was surprisingly good, in the style of the famous menu item over at North Woods Inn if you get it while it's still warm. The baked potato and green beans were satisfactory.

We had a party of 7 which was by no means small, but it seemed that the service was slower than was warranted for the situation. The place was well-packed for a weeknight though, which certainly added to their workload although the wait staff were very friendly and made us feel quite welcome.

The experience was definitely enjoyable, and if you're near the area it's certainly worth a visit even if you just hang out at the bar. They have their own parking lot but there's a mandatory valet. For our tastes the verdict was unanimous: 3.5 cows across the board. Perhaps they perfected the "jack of all trades" moniker, but the ambiance and history of this place make it just a little bit more special than that.

Dal Rae Photos