Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wolfgang's Steakhouse (Beverly Hills): A Classic American Steakhouse

Too much publicity can be a dangerous thing. While many subscribe to the old adage of "there's no such thing as bad publicity," the new Wolfgang's Steakhouse - by former Peter Luger head waiter, Wolfgang *Zwiener* (not Puck) - in Beverly Hills, California, arrived with so much publicity and hype that I wondered if any restaurant would've been able to survive the expectations heaped upon it.

Whether it was the fact that L.A. was supposedly finally getting a "true steakhouse" in the vein of Peter Luger's in New York, or the lawsuits and bickering between Wolfgang Puck and Wolfgang Zwiener, or just the fond reminiscing from Peter Luger fans about similarities that his former head waiter adopted and brought here, Wolfgang's Steakhouse exploded onto the restaurant scene in L.A.

Letting things settle down a bit, we finally got around to visiting Wolfgang's Steakhouse this past Sunday for a Father's Day dinner. Wolfgang's Steakhouse is located on a quiet, nice stretch of Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. At 6:30 p.m., Wolfgang's was already completely packed, and exuded an energetic vibe from the moment we stepped inside.

Perusing the menu, it was clear that this was a true "American Steakhouse" through-and-through. They offered a variety of fresh, chilled seafood like Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Clams and Oysters On The Half Shell, to a few classic Salads, and then the Steaks. For non-beef eaters, they offer Lamb Chops, a variety of Grilled Fish, and Lobster, and finally a nice variety of classic Side Dishes, from Creamed Spinach, Sauteed Mushrooms, to the Baked Potato.

The complimentary bread basket looked delicious, but sadly tasted pretty average (not bad, but nothing outstanding).

We started off with the Wolfgang's Salad made of fresh-chopped Tomatoes, Green Beans, Shrimp and Iceberg Lettuce in a house-made Vinaigrette. It was a simple, refreshing salad, with the chunks of Shrimp (very fresh) combining well with the refreshingly sweet Tomatoes and the Green Beans and Lettuce. The Vinaigrette provided just the right amount of acidity to balance out the inherent sweetness in the main ingredients.

We had heard much about their legendary Porterhouse Steak, but I prefer Ribeye Steak in general, so our table opted for their Porterhouse Steak for Two and the Ribeye Steak to sample both. :)

The Porterhouse Steak for Two arrived amidst a giant sizzling platter: The Steak was so large, that it honestly could've fed 3 or 4 people! The plate was angled upon a small plate beneath to let the oil and juices flow down to one side.

We requested it medium rare, and for the most part it was, with some parts tending more towards medium, but that was fine. Wolfgang Zwiener's Steakhouse serves all their steaks with U.S.D.A. Prime, Dry Aged Beef, in their own aging box, according to their menu.

We took a bite from the Tenderloin portion of the Porterhouse and could taste a very intense beefiness I've never had from any other steak in recent memory. It was nice in its distinction, but at the same time, I found it a tad too intense in some ways, but ultimately it's personal preference. At this time, we were encouraged to try a conspicuous bottle of Wolfgang's own "Old Fashioned Sauce" with the steaks. I always subscribed to the idea that a good steak could stand on its own, but I tried some of the sauce: It was really interesting, and definitely altered the Steak dramatically. I ended up eating half of the beef that night by itself, and the other half dabbed in Wolfgang's Old Fashioned Sauce, as it was strangely addicting. :)

The Strip Loin side of the Porterhouse was noticeably different, even more intense in its dry aged taste, and I preferred the Tenderloin side much more.

The Ribeye Steak arrived a tad overcooked (I had asked for medium rare, but the majority of the Ribeye was medium. Still, it was my favorite cut, and I wanted to see how it compared to their Porterhouse. It had a great char on the outside, and the inside was moist. The first bite showed off a very nice Ribeye: Good marbling, moistness, and a rich beefiness, without the more pungent intensity of the Porterhouse. Steaks aren't my main passion, but from all the steaks I've had, even the famous Porterhouse served here, I still enjoyed the Ribeye more (except the overcooked portions), but halfway through, I began to tire of both steaks, with the overcooked portions of the Ribeye becoming tough and chewy (more on this later).

We ordered three Sides as well, the German Potatoes, Steamed Asparagus, and Sauteed Mushrooms. The German Potatoes were heartily recommended by our server, and were essentially a fancy cross between hash browns and country potatoes, cubes of potato with a very crisped outer texture. Unfortunately, they were extremely salty (too salty), and a bit burnt as well. The Steamed Asparagus were fine, and the Sauteed Mushrooms were perfectly cooked, adding a nice touch to the steak.

The service was solid, nothing outstanding, but helpful when needed, although there were a few hiccups (like refilling our glasses (half full of bottled water) with tap water). They also seated us in an overcrowded section of the restaurant (where my seat was bumped by passing waiters every five minutes or so (no hyperbole)). Our total came out to be roughly ~$72 per person (including tax and tip).

Ultimately, Wolfgang's Steakhouse is a classic, high-quality American Steakhouse. I found it as enjoyable (if not slightly better) than some of the other beloved steakhouses around L.A., i.e., it was nothing "mind-blowing" but it was very good. Perhaps I've been out of "practice" or maybe I've been spoiled by the utter ridiculousness of melt-in-your-mouth Grade A5 Wagyu Beef I've had at Urasawa and The Steak House, or maybe my palate has changed over the last few years, but I've just grown tired of steaks in general: The monstrous (and very generous) slab of beef becomes tiresome after making my way through 1/3 of the steak, and I can tell it's a wonderfully charred, good piece of beef, but it's nothing world-changing. Don't get me wrong, it's a great steak with big flavors, and if that's all you're looking for then Wolfgang's Steakhouse serves a wonderful version of the Porterhouse and Ribeye. Look past the hype and buzz, and just sit back and enjoy a classic American Steak.

Rating: 8.2 (out of 10.0)

Wolfgang's Steakhouse
445 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Tel: 310-385-0640

Hours: Mon - Thurs, 11:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Fri - Sun, 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.


Right Way to Eat said...

Wish me luck! I'm going there tonight!

I now got a pretty good idea what to order now. Thanks Exile Kiss!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Pepsi Monster,

I hope you enjoy your visit! :) Please let me know how it went.

Right Way to Eat said...

Hey Exile Kiss,

My dinner was actually very good. Great service throughout and thoroughly enjoyed my meal. I got the filet mignon for my meal to go along with the Wolfgang salad.

Can I ask you a favor if I can link your Wolfgang salad for my blog? I will definitely give you photo credit and link back to your site. Thanks!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Pepsi Monster,

I'm glad you enjoyed your meal tonight! :) Of course you're welcome to use it. Thanks.

Right Way to Eat said...

Thanks again Exile Kiss! I put up a watermark for the photo just in case people tried to swipe the photo. (I had been ripped lately). Anyways, thanks again for your help!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Pepsi Monster,

No problem. :) Thanks.

H. C. said...

Nice writeup - Wolfgang's been on my second-tier on the list-to-try for awhile, reading your review just bumped it up a few rungs ;)

hopefully my taters won't come out too salty--and wondering if I should do dessert there or better off heading to Spago's instead.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi H.C.,

Thanks. :) I hope you enjoy your visit. Overall, it's a solid steakhouse, but nothing mind-blowing. Dessert? I suppose it's worth trying some of the desserts with the famous "Schlag" that NY'ers love from the traditions back East (I haven't tried that yet :).

Let me know your visit goes.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin