"Let me start by saying I am an incredibly discretionary food snob. That being said, I found this place by accident tonight and decided to try it. Apparently they just reopened after an 8 month renovation and hiatus, which made sense because everything was new and shiny and smelled faintly of fresh carpentry (delightful!!!!).
The night was perfect and our first impression was of beautiful hibiscus and magnolias blooming around the open tables out front. As we entered the building, we were struck with a warm ambiance that brought to mind warm European hunting lodges and Swiss chalets.
The entire area was impeccably clean, and the servers were all tidy, friendly, and hygenic. Delicious smells of meat and clarified butter wafted over the strategically lit dining room and made the tiny hairs on my arm stand up in excitement.
We ordered the French Onion soup, the 16 oz. Hangar steak, and the 24 oz Porterhouse. I was a complete pain in the ass and asked the server all sorts of questions about the food, the preparations, and even a few samples of house sauces before ordering. She was extremely friendly and helpful, and also well-informed. We took a while to decide but they were patient and did not rush us, and supplied beer and bread as we chatted. The decorum of the servers, the hostess, even the water boys was very fine and a welcome surprise. Oh and bread was perfect, fresh baked crusty Italian, and walnut rasin bread,( I hate rasins but even I liked this) both lightly toasted and served with evoo & fresh ground pepper.
Salad bar comes with all of the meals, so after ordering we stepped up to get a plate. There was a salad bar attendant who watched on to make sure all was in order, and I have never seen one so well-dressed. His whites were starched and everything was spotless. There was baby spinach, romaine, standards such as cucs and tomatoes, several kinds of cheese, olives, hard boiled eggs, croutons, etc. The win here was the fresh marinated mushrooms and tomato/cuc salad. The mushrooms were superb, lightly vinegared with fresh herbs and seasoned well, but not over-saturated like some tend to be. Everything just exuded freshness. There was a choice of very good dressings, including evoo & balsamic or red wine vinegar decanters. Oh and pepperoncini AND cherry peppers, which I stocked up on because I love hot peppers with steak.
After salads there was a short break and then the french onion soup. The stock was more beefy than chickeny, (some chefs will use a beef/chicken blend) and the perfect amount of salty, rich, and sweet. French onion is a simple soup, but the simple things seem to get easily screwed up ? or maybe good soup chefs are just hard to come by. Either way, this soup was infused with the love of someone who knows what they were doing. Thank goodness, because a bad soup is a big turnoff. But this one, was exceptional.
Finally after another break came the steaks. And oh, I swear there were angels singing that moment. Both steaks cooked to PERFECT temperature, and I mean spot on. Perfection. The aging was also delightful. I am particular about aged meats, and this did not disappoint. There aren't any words that can adequately describe the artistry in those cuts. The porterhouse had a good sear and a beautiful interior, and the hangar was just... absolute.... butter. The chef's seasoning had a bit of fresh thyme and just a hint of rosemary, and it coupled perfectly with the agedness of the beef.
I swear, ladies and gents, at this point I was floating above the table in sheer bliss. Nothing could have wiped the ecstatic smile from my face.
Oh and I almost forgot. The baked potatoes were perfect, the GIANT scoops of butter & sour cream were divine. More often than not I leave half-eaten starches in favor of proteins and veggies, but this time I even ate the whole potato.
We finished the meal with a yummy tiramasu, which was good, and the only thing we had room for after such a large meal. At that point I realized I forgot to eat the hot peppers. I had been so enthralled with the meat that I forgot about everything else while I was eating. And it left nothing to be desired, it was really absolute perfection.
Also, the prices were VERY reasonable. I expected the bill to be one amount, and it was actually about half that. It was such a pleasant surprise. Two enormous fine aged steaks with sides, soup, salad bar, and dessert, including drinks & beer was only $66 after tax. Anyone who thinks this is steep obviously has little experience in the world of fine food.
I had to meet the Chef, who impressed me as well with his personality and refinement. I'm excited for the word to get out about this place, I guess before the hiatus the old owners gave it a bad rep, and I'm sure they are in the 'new' phase right now where they are working against the old stigmas. That's a difficult spot, but with service, décor, and most importantly FOOD like this, I have no doubt that they will be wildly successful.
I will be returning frequently, and I encourage you to try it as well. Make sure to let the Chef know if you enjoy it, there was a lot of hard hard work and sheer brilliant artistry behind that incredible experience. "