Friday, September 26, 2008

STK: Steaks and Scenery

STK...not your daddy's steakhouse.
755 North La Cienega Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone: (310) 659-3535

The buzz on the internet about STK is very mixed. Some people herald STK for its steaks, cocktails and atmosphere. Some pundits complain about the scene and diners who are there solely to watch over their dinner companion's shoulders. I can make no bones about what STK is trying to do. They clearly want and have cultivated an environment appealing to Los Angelenos who visit the La Cienega corridor to people watch, name drop and show off designer bags and high end cars. The interior is above and beyond theatrical. The bar, above, is a stunning display of booze, smokey mirrors and candles creating a halo effect on anything and everyone.

The dining room, here as seen from the bar, is literally a stage. One must walk up a small flight of stairs to a mezzanine level dining room. The barrier between the dining area to the bar is low and just well lit enough that you can see the silhouette of everyone's face...the effect is quite dramatic and really beautiful. In another town, I think STK would be less criticized for creating this environment for these kinds of people. But Los Angelenos on the outskirts of the business of either entertainment or social climbing are in a hurry to identify any place that panders to that clientele. I am not a huge fan of that scene, but it is fun to indulge in now and again, and I found STK stimulating and glamourous.

Above is another view of the back wall from our table, stage right. I like the horn sculpture. It speaks quietly to the provenance of the protein of the day. And onto the food...

To start, we are served housemade bread in a smallish cast iron pan. The little puffs of hot bread are delicious, slightly glazed with butter, and have threads of an herbed garlic something running through the middle. To the left side of the bread is a basil infused oil for dipping.

To the right of the bread, is housemade butter. Very sweet and creamy, just soft enough.

Our party of four shared two salads. The above was a simple arugula, lightly dressed with heirloom tomatoes, cucumber slices and housemade croutons. Very nice.

Above is the mac n' cheese. This was a very basic mac n' cheese with a crunchy browned crust. I love that they used old school macaroni instead of some new fancy pasta shape. No, really old school. Like 1970's at Aunt Minnie's house. See below.

I have read STK being criticized slightly for their less than innovative side dishes. It's a steakhouse, not a foodie celebrity chef restaurant, and I found the side dishes delicious. No, not innovative. Delicious. The above is a shot of their sweet corn pudding, again served in a cast iron dish. This was light and fluffy when hot, almost souffle-esque. My tongue could feel out the cornmeal floating in the pudding, accompanied by corn kernels. This developed a thicker sludgy consistency upon cooling that did not diminish its appeal in any way.

Every single person at our four-top ordered the bone-in filet mignon. I recently ordered a steak medium at a much revered steakhouse and it came back too done, so I went for medium-rare, and it was pretty perfect. My steak was juicy, incredibly flavorful, due in part to the bone-in. Say it. Say "bone-in".

Everyone was entranced with their steaks. The sauces were also well received. I ordered a creamy horseradish sauce, which was more fluid than most creamy horseradish sauces. It actually made for the prefect dipping sauce, as only a little clung to the meat as opposed to a giant squidgy mayonnaisey blob, which can sometimes overpower the meat. I rarely finish a steak. Typically I bring big chunks home to share out with the hounds. But I ate every damn bite. Every bite.

As a final assessment, I add that the food is nothing ground breaking. It tasted good, there are lots of choices in terms of size of protein, exotic and mundane accompaniments, side dishes, sauces and appetizers. The service was actually perfect. Neither too intrusive nor too absent. I would gladly eat here again, although it will not purposefully be on my list of must-do agains.

STK on Urbanspoon


kevinEats said...

It's nice to see that there's indeed some passable food behind all the flash! I'll probably make my way there sometime, but I must try Wolfgang's first.

Food, she thought. said...

Do you mean Cut? Yes, I would reccomend that first....the food is incredible. Not that Cut is necessarily flash-less.

kevinEats said...

Not CUT (I've been there twice already), but Wolfgang's Steakhouse, started by a Peter Luger alum. I do think that CUT is the best steakhouse in the area though.

Epicuryan said...

Glad to hear STK is worth trying. I actually have been trying to convince Kevin to go although it is definitely lower on our list.

I agree wholeheartedly with you about Cut. I went once for my birthday last year and consider it the best steak in LA. Here is a post from my old blog that I haven't migrated over yet.

Food, she thought. said...

NO! Go to BLT first!!!! It's on Sunset in the old Le Dome space. The serve chicken pate with the bread course. We stopped in for a snack last night...zomg. Cannot WAIT for a full meal there.

kevinEats said...

Yeah, I think I'd rather try BLT before STK, but probably Wolfgang's before both.

Food, she thought. said...

I have been hearing rumblings about Wolfgang's from my westside friends. I am now developing a craving.