Steak

This was the first time eating at one of Emril Lagasse’s restaurants. The celebrity chef that started it all is taking on the great American steakhouse in Las Vegas called Demonico Steakhouse. It is inside the Venetian, and the space is quite unassuming and not flashy at all. It is as classic as can be. The food was classically delicious and I had an amazing time. As far as Vegas goes, the space was kind of boring, but the food spoke for itself.

The bread and butter was quite nice. The rolls were normal butter rolls, but the bread was so soft and buttery. Adding on some more salted butter, the bread was a decadent butter fest.

The best cut of them all, the reason why we are all here, is for this cut of beef. The bone in ribeye was cooked perfectly. Steakhouses all may seem the same, but there are good steakhouses and then there are amazing ones. Delmonico’s was indeed amazing. The beef was fatty and cooked perfectly medium rare. The bone flavored the meat ever so perfectly. The herb butter on top melted all over the steak and just flavored it even more. This was a perfect steak.

The sauteed mushrooms was key and much appreciated with this steak. It gave it a nice earthy aroma and paired well with the meat. The buttery mushrooms were seasoned nicely — this was as close to “veggies” as we got for the night.

The grits were amazing and took place of my usual mac and cheese order. The bacon on top put these grits on a new level of savory. The butter mixed in with the grits was so pure and magical. It had a nice bite to it, and the saltiness from the bacon went well with the somewhat mildly seasoned steak.

I am a creamed corn lover. Though it wasn’t as good as those prime rib restaurants, the creamed corn was welcomed with the ribeye. The sweetness from the corn and the saltiness from the cheese all mixed up with cream was just so comforting.

Thinking about what we just ate, I realized it was just over the top with butter, beef, cream, and fat. This is what Vegas is all about. Over the top? Check! Indulgence? Check! Without a single green in sight, this meal was just a beef and cream and butter fest. Do I regret it? Not at all. I believe after this meal, we went for some desserts and then hit the Craps table. It was indeed a good night.

Delmonico Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

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Oh yeah! I totally forgot I went to Whiz. What did I think of it? All Hype. The small corner shop is barely a restaurant, but a restaurant nonetheless. With a park picnic benches outside, customers are probably just taking things to-go. Honestly, Whiz was just “alright.” I took my friends here excited to just try their cheesesteaks. Most of us (all of us) were pretty much on the same boat about Whiz. “Just whatever.”

Check out the pictures below. We got a regular cheesesteak, jalapeño cheesesteak, along with cheese fries.



Honestly, this spot is overrated. The meat wasn’t all that great, the cheese sauce needed work, and the bread was definitely not Amoroso rolls. The spot is small, and a bit of a hip spot. The food though needs a lot of work. Better than most cheesesteaks, but definitely not the “it” spot. Next stop, Boo’s!

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You got to love Las Vegas. As much as you can find the high end of things, you can equally find the lower end. When I say lower end, I don’t mean cheap as in quality — I am talking about bargains. Lost a lot of money on one of those rigged slot machines? Highly unlikely. Nobody in their 70’s reads my blog. You probably lost money on the Black Jack tables — maybe in a rough game of Hold’em? Either way, just because you lost al of your money, doesn’t mean you can eat like you won big. Ellis Island Casino and Brewery is a small casino just barely off the strip on Koval Lane. The casino isn’t much, but the restaurant and brewery inside is another story. Filled with cheap, yet quality food and beer, it is a Vegas-er’s must for those on a tight budget.

I had the king cut prime rib. With a side of green beans and baked potato, the dish was a great balance of protein, carb, and greens. The prime rib was bloody red and fatty. This made for a juicy cut of beef and made me happy. With the fat running down the middle and the side of ajus, this was definately a juicy everything. Topping it all off with their horseradish made everything perfect. The name “King Cut” suggests that this was a uber thick cut — it wasn’t. I mean, it’s no Diamond Jim Brady Cut from Lawry’s. Don’t get me wrong, it was still pretty thick. At then end of it all, it was a large piece of meat that had a lot of flavor. For the ridiculous price of something like $12. Considering the price, I’d say the prime rib was pretty dang thick. Just get two and you have your thicker than thick prime rib right there, for 24 bucks! Did I mention the prime rib comes with a beer? I opted for something light — the Hefe Weiss ale was perfect. What more can I ask for than a huge prime rib and beer?

Ellis Island Casino and Brewery also has steak and eggs on the cheap too. For 6 bucks, you get an 8oz new york strip steak, eggs, toast, and your side of potato. The home fries were great with the eggs and toast, but the steak was the star. Of course, a lot less juicy than the prime rib, this was a true steak nonetheless. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the lean cut of beef was at its purest. Did I dare ask for some A-1 sauce? I don’t care what you say, that stuff is liquid gold. Not like we are at a fancy shmancy place. But really, for 6 bucks you get all this? Only in Vegas.

I guess you can lose all your money in Vegas and still come out on top. Imagine if this same establishment, minus the casino came to Los Angeles, That would be nut! The same thing at a Denny’s or Sizzler would be double the price. You just can’t have this anywhere else but in Las Vegas. Ellis Island Casino as a casino is pretty run down. If you don’t want to play bingo here, you can always play online. I don’t really play bingo. I’m not my mother-in-law, you know, but when I’m in the mood and to find the best bingo sites, I use ballsupbingo.com. All in all though, the food and the beer was excellent. Just lose everything on black, but keep $20. Restaurants on the strip is most likely not worth it anyways.

Ellis Island Brewery on Urbanspoon

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La Grande Orange Cafe – Bacon Optional

by Franklin on August 1, 2013

It was a Monday night. I wasn’t in the mood for anything loud or crazy. I wanted something mellow and quiet. My old age has brought me to La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena — a somewhat under the radar, though not a hole in the wall restaurant, that is a bit on the boring side. The inside was interesting though. It had different rooms with different themes. Adjacent to the restaurant is the Metro Gold Line, Del Mar Station and some luxury apartments. The area certainly isn’t Old Town Pasadena. It’s quiet, a bit boring, and kind of nice.

The shredded kale and quinoa salad was refreshing and packed with nutrients. The crunch from the sunflower seeds was appreciated. Sweetness from the flame grapes and citrus from lemon was a nice combo. With a fresh shaving of parmesan, the salad was rich and flavorful, with a nice summer zest. Kale is slowing becoming my new favorite green.

Last year, brussel sprouts have been getting popular. Never having it in a salad, the Brussels sprouts salad was new and exciting to me. Manchego being one of my favorite cheese, the shaved aged manchego was the best thing for me. The sweet dried berries and smoked almonds were a great balance for this dish. The honey mustard vinaigrette was good, considering I am not a fan of sweet dressing; fortunately, it wasn’t swimming in dressing. Bacon on the salad was optional — I just laughed at that statement.

La Grande Orange Cafe is known for the deviled eggs. In hind sight, I should have just ordered it from the DineLA menu. These little bites were perfect. It had a great velvety texture with the right amount of spice and zing. A little drizzle of oil or something could have made them less dry though. Again, bacon was optional, and again, I chuckled.

It was a Monday, and my fiancé wanted a drink. Yes, we are making “its a Monday” as an excuse to drink. She ordered the white sangria, and it was refreshing — better than I expected. Though a girly drink, it was strong enough to enjoy and well, fruity enough to enjoy. The fresh peach was refreshing and cool.

I ordered the wood fire rotisserie chicken. Though kind of boring, the heirloom cannellini beans were a nice touch. The half chicken was a lot of protein to take in, especially the dry breast — dark meat was juicy and well seasoned. The fresh green beans had a nice crunch. A very “safe” dish, but still delicious.

I saw Prime Rib on the menu and had to take advantage. The prime rib was cooked nicely medium rare, though a bit on the rare side. Any less time in the oven, it would have been near raw beef. The mashed potatoes were a bit bland and boring, but the horse radish made everything lively. The green beans brought everything together.

I liked the olive oil cake. It had a very light, yet dense texture, in between a cake and a bread. The mild flavor mixed with the strawberry and vanilla sorbet was a good mix.

The red velvet cake was awesome. The multilayer of cake was nice to look at and fun to eat. Breaking off layer by layer, each cake and frosting mixture was pleasant. The vanilla ice cream was a nice touch. I mean, who doesn’t like cake and ice cream?

La Grande Orange Cafe was an interesting experience. Culinarily, it isn’t as exciting as most restaurants are. In fact, the restaurant is a bit boring. From the food, to the decor, and the wait service, nothing got me excited for anything. It was a Monday night, DineLA was going on, and we just wanted a quiet night together in Pasadena. The food was plenty and everything tasted as it should. The classic styling and menu will never go out of style.

La Grande Orange Café on Urbanspoon

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Mastro’s to me is just another steak house. Just like Fleming’s or Morton’s and Ruth’s Chris, Morton’s offers a very classic steak restaurant. Visiting Vegas, I made a decision I shouldn’t have made. Not to say that going to Matro’s Ocean Club inside the Shops At Crystals was a mistake or a bad experience. I just have a dining out rule when I’m in Vegas. “If there’s one in LA or OC, don’t go there.” Well, I broke my rule, but it was all for a birthday celebration. I figured, I probably won’t be going to Mastro’s anytime soon, so might as well. And the bird’s nest really attracted me. I was really happy with my decision for the most part.

We started things of with bread service. They offered pretzel, crouton, baguette, dinner roll, and wheat bread. The breadbasket had variety all were quite good. My favorite was the pretzel — it was soft and airy.

I had some of the Caesar salad to start. I needed some kind of greens to soak up all that meat juice. Their Caesar salad was near perfect. The dressing was nice and creamy. The addition of parmesan cheese and cracked pepper made everything better.

I was ready for the main event, the 22oz bone in rib eye. The rib eye is one of my favorite cuts because of the even fat marbling and soft texture. Mine was cooked perfectly medium rare, though a bit more on the rare side. This actually caused the meat to be a bit tough. This cut did have some nice fat running through the steak. This helped with the tenderness and mouth feel of the meat. Even though this wasn’t the best steak I have had, the help of the amazing sides made it all better.

The real reason I came here wasn’t the steak. Well it is, and it isn’t. The real reason I came here was for the lobster mashed potatoes. I mean. It is Mastro’s Ocean Club — Ocean, meaning seafood is in order. This side dish was rich as can be — full of butter. I believe the potato to butter ratio is near 1 to 1. With a whole lobster tail carefully chopped up and placed in a pool of butter, the potatoes were creamy and flavorful. The pure essence of the sea was encased in butter, and mixed with potatoes. Eating this with steak was pure bliss. The kid in me wanted to order the mac and cheese. made with gorgonzola, the flavor was very rich. Another cream heavy and dairy heavy dish, the mac and cheese was delicious. My favorite was the layer of melted cheese on top.

My favorite was dessert. We were celebrating a birthday, so they gave us a chocolate birthday cake. The cake was rich in chocolate and eating just a few bites was enough for me. The best thing about this dessert was their home made whipped cream. Served on the side in a bowl, the homemade whipped cream was so dense and fluffy. The cold cream and the chocolate cake was a perfect mixture. Honestly though, the whipped cream was the best thing ever. I wanted to take it all home.

Eating at Mastro’s Ocean Club was a great experience. The location is a bit awkward. As you are enjoying your expensive meal inside an amazingly architectured “bird’s nest,” you look out and you see people shopping. That is cool and all, but you can’t help but think you are inside of a mall — Well, you are inside of a mall, and this Mastro’s makes sure you know that. I couldn’t help but think I was at a very glorified food court at a mall. When I eat at a nice establishment, I want to feel secluded from the world. I just didn’t get the at from here. The food is great, though as far as steakhouses go in Las Vegas, you can do a lot better. I guess I can only break my rule once. Never eat at Las Vegas where you can at home.

Mastro's Ocean Club on Urbanspoon

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We all know Gordon Ramsey. The ill tempered celebrity chef from England made a name for himself. When I think of him, he isn’t smiling or laughing. I think of angry eyes, wrinkles on the forehead, and fire coming out of his mouth. That imagery to me, is more laughable than scary. But truly, Gordon Ramsey did make a name for himself, literally. The guy names his restaurants after his name. Gordon Ramsey at The London, and this blog post, Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris. You must be pretty full of yourself if you name your restaurants after your first name. If Gordon Ramsey has the audacity to put him name (again, literally) on his restaurants, he must be pretty confident in it. With that kind of thinking, I expect top notch flavors and cuisine.

Ramsey’s vision to transport you to the U.K. is accomplished through the “English Channel.” This is exactly what it does. You are transformed from Paris to the UK, just like the real thing! The inside really does transport you to England. The red accents and obviously, the U.K. flag gave it that ambiance.

Another thing that was cool was the beverage selection. The menu is on an iPad and guests can swipe through craft beers, wines, and cocktails. The price and drink description are all available. This was an experience in itself, which probably pushed me to order the Primm’s Cup.

The night started with a cocktail. The Primm’s Cup was the cocktail of choice. It had Primm’s No. 1 and sparkling lemonade. It had a complex flavor and wasn’t too sweet. It was spicy and had a fruity citric flavor. I wanted something with a little bite so that it went well with a steak. The Primm’s Cup wouldn’t be my first choice if it was enjoyed alone. For a meal though, I think this was a successful choice.

We were given complimentary bread. This was a good start — it was some of the best and most flavorful of restaurant complimentary breads. There was walnut bread; lemon, thyme, and olive focacia; and pancetta and mushroom truffle bread roll. This was accompanied with and English Devonshire butter with sea salt. If not the bread, this butter was amazing. It had a cheese like consistency and flavor. My ultimate goal now was to find English Devonshire butter back in L.A. A “shmeer” of this stuff on the bread was purely exceptional. The pop of the sea salt and the creamy butter was purely eventful in my mouth. Sometimes, all a man needs is good butter and good bread. This was surely a great start.

Another item I wanted to start off with was the bone marrow. A personal favorite at any restaurant, I was happy to see it on the menu. The fatty bone marrow on the crostini was delightful. The chimichurri was zesty and added the acidity to the dish. It was a perfect flavor meld of fat and fat.

The waiter came to our table with a display of steaks. All of the steaks were real, and displayed to show texture, and marbling. This was nearly useless to me as I was going to order the beef Wellington, but useful to others not knowing what to order. Table side presentation of steaks, as Wolfgang Puck’s CUT does it is an added wow factor. It is cool to see your steak as is before its cooked off.

My main dish of course, was the roasted Beef Wellington. Being Gordon Ramsey’s signature dish, I was overly excited to try it. Seeing up and coming, “red team, blue team” contestants mess this up time and time again, it was almost like a super star. The beef was cooked perfectly to a medium rare, and soft as ever can be. The beefy flavor was enhanced by the duxelles (mixture of minced mushrooms, onions, shallots, herbs, and butter) inside the flaky crust. Sitting on aside some root vegetables, potato puree, and a red wine demi glace, the entire dish was savory to a great degree. Steakhouses are one of many in Vegas, and the typical bone in ribeye was getting boring. I am glad I ordered and tried the Beef Wellington. Surprisingly, I liked it. Beef Wellington form Gordon Ramsey can now be checked off from the bucket list.

A perfect side dish was the mac and cheese. This may be one of my favorite mac and cheeses of all time! The combination of cheddar, blue cheese, parmesan, and truffle made this perfectly balanced taste. The cheese blend was unctuous and the noodles had a perfect texture. I normally prefer the southern style man and cheese — the one that is custardy and cheddar molested. Gordon Ramsey Steak’s mac and cheese impressed me a lot. I would take this over any other mac and cheese out there.

Another dish I couldn’t pass up was the Maine lobster. The chorizo stuffed Maine lobster was poached in butter. To top it all off, it sat in a pool of brandied lobster cream sauce. The lobster was cooked perfectly and had a nice chew to it. The chorizo wasn’t overpowering, and the lobster just shined. The rich butter and cream sauce was decadent and flavorful. I as expecting a small lobster piece of a tail, but it was quite large. Screw the steak! I’ll just eat this for protein.

And awesome dinner ended with an even more awesome dessert. From chocolate layer cake, to spiced caramel apple cake, it was a hard decision to make. I went with the sticky toffee pudding and never looked back. The waiter poured the brown sugar toffee over the sweet pudding cake. Glazed all over, the dessert was so sweet! The cake was moist and fluffy. What stood out was the brown sugar toffee. It was simple and devilishly addicting. I wanted to just pour that spout of toffee in my mouth. It was warm and gooey, and went perfectly with the brown butter ice cream. A bite of the warm sweet toffee pudding cake and then a bite of the creamy, not too sweet ice cream to wash it all down was so perfect. The end.

I was honestly expecting great things from Gordon Ramsey and his steak restaurant — for the most part, I got what I expected. The cuisine was top notch and the Beef Wellington was finally off my to do list. The atmosphere here is quite hip and loud. You aren’t going to get that quiet and mellow steak house with slow classical music playing in the background. You aren’t going to get neutral colors and very boring waiters. What you do get is a very fast paced, in your face experience. The loud red colors and people chatting and laughing fills the air. That’s just the vibe you get here. Gordon Ramsey’s steak house inside the Paris Resort is a destination. The Paris Resort was lacking in the quality restaurant department, and this one just set it to the top.

Gordon Ramsay Steak on Urbanspoon

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There comes a time when you just go all out.  Whether you are in the right mindset or not, you just go for it.  You don’t think about cost or consequences thereafter.  You just close your eyes and hope for the best.  With Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak at the MGM, I did just that. I knew it was way over my budget, but I just went with it. Maybe it was the Vegas air and wanted to live the Vegas dream of fine dining. It’s not like I won big at the craps tables. I just wanted to “do Vegas right” and dine like I never do.  It’s not everyday you get a meal with all of the fixings and trimmings — maybe when Christmas or Thanksgiving rolls around, but even then, nothing like this — nothing like having dish after dish after dish, all laid out in front of you. This indeed was something special. Expensive, but special.

Las Vegas is all about grandeur.  Excess of everything with a splash of flashiness is what everyone expects in Vegas.  Craftsteak, with the interior design and cuisine is a bit dialed down.  Some may see that as something negative, but this was executed with excellence.  The food and the design exuded a sense of humble refinement.  A kind of “my food doesn’t have to be extravagant” to be Las Vegas enough, kind of attitude.  Tom Colicchio’s menu is simple, and does it elegantly.

The bread and butter was served in a not so normal cast iron pan. The bread was soft and warm — the butter was delicious as it should.

Appetizer: The Lobster Bisque was near perfection. The way they did it was unique and interesting. The soup bowl had nothing inside expect spices and chunks of lobster. The waiter then poured in the hot bisque inside the bowl. The taste was amazingly delicious. Lobster chucks filled every spoonful. The bisque was rich and creamy and full of seafood flavor. The Lobster Bisque itself was well worth the experience.

Appetizer: The Itallian buffalo mozzarella with hazelnuts was mellow. Not robust in flavors, the taste was a bit subtle. The tomatoes and balsamic helped round out the flavors. The mozzarella was fresh as can be.

Appetizer: The Warm Frisee salad had some intense flavors going on — a great thing. It had a farm egg, smoked bacon, mustard seed, and blue cheese. The bacon and blue cheese were rich and fatty, and the mustard seed helped cleanse the palate. Intense tastes and bitter greens made this dish amazing.

Appetizer: Their Caesar salad was a bit bland. I dug the pickled anchovy though.

The Ribeye is one of my favorite cuts of steak. Mine was 16 oz, bone in, cooked to a medium rare. Perfectly cooked, I couldn’t ask for a better piece of meat. Each bite was perfect texturally, but I felt it lacked seasoning. Maybe the rich flavors of the appetizers killed my taste buds, but the Ribeye could have used some salt. Heck, this might be cheating, but I would have loved some blue cheese on the side. Translation: I love blue cheese.

Interestingly, the 22 oz T Bone had a better flavor for me — it must be the dry aging process. It had a rich beef flavor that was missing from the Ribeye. Still cooked perfectly, the meat was succulent and tender.

Side: The yukon potato puree was amazing. It was such a simple dish. It was rich with a lot of butter and cream. The taste was like no other. It was smooth and delicious and the chives on top gave it enough zest to keep me coming back for more.

Side: The assorted mushrooms were a perfect accompaniment to the meat. What’s better that meat and potatoes than adding mushrooms in the mix? They each had a different bite to it.

Side: Another potato other than the puree was the potatoes gratin. The potato slices were mixed in with a roasted garlic cream. The taste was perfect with the meat.

Dessert: I thought monkey bread pudding was a funny name for a dessert, but the taste was addicting. The bread was sweet and dense, kind of like a cinnamon bun. The rich caramel sauce with the bread pudding and ice cream all mixed well perfectly.

Dessert: I always see cactus pear sorbet on TV, and always wanted to try it. I was pleasantly surprised, and I fell in love with it. The taste was very mellow and not too sweet. The color of the sorbet was vibrant as was the flavors. The fruit slices, candied dates and dragon fruit were mediocre. My favorite fruit is the Asian pear — I like it because it has a nice bite to it with a lot of juice. The pear sliced wafer thin gave it no bite and not a lot a moisture. The dragon fruit was exotic, and taste was mild. None of this fruit mess. I am in Vegas — more Monkey Bread Pudding Please!

Dessert: The most decadent dessert was the chocolate moose. The chocolate in this was super chocolatey and dense. The vanilla ice cream was as pure as can be, but the peaches on the side didn’t excite me.

Tom Colicchio’s steakhouse was in the end, worth it.  Plate after plate, dish after dish, the food seamed endless.  The impeccable service and comfortable seating arrangements made this long endeavor a treat I will never forget.

Craftsteak on Urbanspoon

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Pink Taco – Mall Food Gets Cheesy and Corny

by Franklin on October 27, 2012

I knew there was a Pink Taco in Las Vegas, but I am not sure it if it is the same one as the one in Los Angeles. Under the website, it doesn’t list the Las Vegas one as their locations. I mean, the theme and menu as long as the feel of the two restaurants seem the same, but I am not quite sure if it is the same. Though there are two in the west LA area, I went to the one in the Westfield Century City Mall. Upon entering through the familiar over-sized door, the interior was casual. We started off with Sangria with chips and salsa at the bar. The sangria was refreshing and fruity — I am not much of a drinker so I can’t compare. The chips and salsa were good and plenty — The salsa needed work but the chips were crispy. They weren’t super crunchy, but light and a good start.


Their carne asada quesadilla was my favorite. It wasn’t cooked in a particular way — it was just a standard carne asada quesadilla. It had marinated sirloin steak, toasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, and chipotle peppers inside. Their fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream all went perfectly with this quesadilla. The mixture of melted jack cheese and steak was rich and gooey. I wouldn’t mind if all quesadillas were this tasty.

One of the items on the menu I really wanted to try was their sweet corn tamale. Served open faced, it consisted of fresh ground masa, roasted poblano chilies, queso fresco, grilled corn, pico de gallo, with crema on top. The grilling of the corn brought out the sweetness and the poblano chilies gave it a nice spice. The queso fresco gave it that savory taste and the crema helped meld everything together. The taste of sweet, salty, and spicy married so well — I can’t believe how much I enjoyed something that didn’t have meat in it.

For a chain, a chain serving Mexican food especially, it was bearable. The food here isn’t boring like most chains. I honestly thought the food was standard done as it should be. Not to say that the food is mediocre, but just “everyday” good. The atmosphere is casual and the prices are mid range. The bar scene seems to be popular here as there is a large outside patio. I was comfortable just sitting at the bar, grubbing on chips and salsa. Most malls would be lucky to have a Pink Taco inside. The Westfield Century City is pretty decent mall — the addition of having Pink Taco makes it that much better.

Pink Taco on Urbanspoon

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Summer is birthday time. Most of the people I know, including myself have their birthdays in and around summer time. My birthday dinner? Mine was at L.A. Prime. After much debating and planning on where to go for my birthday, L.A. Prime was a nice fit. It was a steak house, and a carnivore like me would be happy here. It wasn’t one of those steak houses of all steak houses houses (STK, Mastros, Mortons). It was inside the Westin Bonaventure on the 35th floor, which meant the views were spectacular. Just the elevator ride alone to the 35th floor was memorable. I drive by this building almost every single day, and not once have I stepped foot inside. It was cool to see Figueroa from atop and realize, that is where I make a right turn. You notice a lot when you are up this high. I realized I am so blessed and lucky to live in a great city and to be able to eat great food.

We started off with their complimentary bread. The bread was plenty (they refilled it for us) and had a variety. They had a regular french bread, pretzel type bread, herb crisp, cheese bread, and a fruit and nut bread. On the side was butter an an olive tapenade. The bread was a nice start of the meal. My favorite was the pretzel type bread. It was soft and chewy, kind of like a bagel. It was nice to eat some fine bread and butter with a nice cup of sparkling mineral water, overlooking the city.

To go with our bread, we ordered the lobster bisque. Hearing that LA Prime had some awesome lobster bisque, it was a no brainer to order it. The seafood essence was totally overwhelming. The chunks of lobster were plenty, though the lobster flavor was a bit lacking. It looked and felt like lobster, but I couldn’t quite taste it. The creaminess helped a lot with the overall balance of the dish. More spices would have helped with the single noted flavor profile.

We were ready for the main course. The steak! I had my share of steaks, from all cuts of the bull. I am very particular about my steak. It has to be the right texture and have a nice flavor. We opted for the 22 oz. Bone in rib-eye. The steak itself was a nice cut of beef, but I did not like it. The steak was cooked to my liking, medium rare, but there was one huge factor that made me dislike this steak. It wasn’t necessarily burnt, but the steak’s outer crust had a char that was way too overpowering. It had a layer of soot and char, the whole steak didn’t taste like beef at all. It felt like steak, I bit and chewed it like steak, but the char on the outside made it taste very bitter and carbon like. I mean, good barbecue has a nice char-coaled, almost burnt to a crisp outside, but that gives flavor. This was was just all char without the flavor.

The sides were a different story. I am a sucker for mac and cheese, and theirs was decent. Though a bit watery, the noodles were cooked perfectly. It could have been more cheesy, but I can’t complain.

Their creamed corn was different than most, but still amazing. Other places, the creamed corn is more creamy, cheesy, and sweet. This was was more on the corn side as it had a nice crunch. It wasn’t quite creamy nor sweet — more like creamy corn than creamed corn. The creamy corn was a good condiment to the steak.

It was my birthday after all, so the restaurant treated me to a small dessert. This was an amazing treat. The chocolate moose was rich and fluffy, I almost thought it was a really moist cake. The chocolate decor was good to look at and delicious. I really felt special that night.

LA Prime at the Westin Bonaventure is a nice steakhouse. Though their food needs a little bit of a reform, the people who eat here aren’t here the “to die for” steaks and sides — they are here for the view. Yeah, I could have paid almost the same amount at a proper steakhouse, but I would have forgotten about it the next day. Everyone comes here for the amazing view of the city. Taking that elevator ride up, sitting down, looking at the city in the city during sunset, that is what we come here for. That is what I remember. It was a beautiful night, and a wonderful birthday.

L.A. Prime (Westin Bonaventure) on Urbanspoon

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Houston’s (Irvine) – Ribs, Ribeye, And #1 Tuna

by Franklin on November 12, 2011

This may be one of my favorite restaurant chains.  Houston’s offers a home feel with a bit of class and sophistication.  It doesn’t try to be pretentious and is not image driven.  They let the food speak for itself. It is a step above Yard House, which is a large step above TGIFriday.  Though I didn’t really know what to expect, I was impressed with the food.

We ordered the spicy tuna roll salad.  On the menu, it said “inside out #1 tuna roll”.  We didn’t know what the whole #1 thing was about, so I asked the waitor.  Supposedly, that meant it was top grade tuna. The tuna was indeed fresh and wrapped with greens avacado.  I liked that the tuna was whole and not chopped up.  Well, why would anyone chop up #1 tuna anyways? The mango and lettuce salad was a nice touch. The ponzu sauce was delicious with it.  It looked too good to eat, but guess what — I did anyways.

The Hawaiian ribeye is a sure thing here.  I like my steaks rare, and they cooked mine perfectly.  It is marinated in a subtly sweet sauce and the then grilled over hardwood. The taste was amazing.  The sweetness was a nice change to a lot of steak I had in the past.  It was juicy and had a perfect fat to meat ratio.

The barbecue pork ribs were good as well.  It had a nice sauce which is important to any BBQ dish.  There was a lot of meat and flavor was definitely there, though a bit more meat would have been better — the ribs were kind of skimp. The best part of this dish was the cole slaw with parsley.  It was such a simple side dish, but it made all the difference.  The crunch from the cabbage and chew from the meat was a great combination.

Houson’s in Irvine was a great dinner.  The atmosphere was friendly and sophisticated at the same time. Food was perfect.  The price is a bit on the steep side, but you get what you pay for.  In hind sight, it was worth it.  I still dream about that ribeye.

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