Not Your Daddy's Steakhouse
755 N La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Last Wednesday, several other local food bloggers and I were invited to a hosted dinner at STK on La Cienega. Abby from Pleasure Palate did the inviting, driven by Emily Olsen, the PR agent of The ONE group. The ONE group owns STK in Los Angeles, Miami, Vegas and New York. They also own ONE in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York and Coco De Ville in Los Angeles among other high end sleek and glam partnered restaurants and lounges. I had a wonderful time talking shop with other blog minded people, tasting way too many drinks and some wonderful food. Also invited were: Alli 411, Choisauce, Gastronomy, Gourmet Pigs (who I read religiously and did not get to meet), Kung Foo Panda (how cute is THAT?), The Liquid Muse (who is coming out with a book Preggatinis, alcohol free cocktails for pregnant women, great taste in booze, that one, so I am sure those recipes will be delicious), Mattbites (he and his partner are great conversationalists and I enjoyed every moment of monopolizing all their attention), Mattatouille (who I also read regularly and know I am going to get to know at one of these events), Seeking Food, Sinosoul (my funny friend I met via C who is also a fellow Yelper), Street Gourmet LA (who I know through Chowhound and look forward to getting to know better, especially after I saw him whip out and make love to an unlit cigar after dinner), Teenage Gluster (who is even more adorable than you can imagine IRL), Wandering Chopsticks, and When Tara Met Blog (whose adorable business cards have inspired me). As a rule, I do not like parties and am uncomfortable around people I do not know. I felt comfy in this crowd after about 15 minutes. I had a wonderful time.
We started at 7 with cocktails in the lovely atrium. Our hostess and some cocktail servers paraded out a line up of drinks that were kind of intimidating, me being afeared of overly sweet things. I was pleasantly surprised. Very pleasantly. These were some of the best cocktails I have ever had. And I mean this with all sincerity. Pablo Moix, the mixologist/genius/devil, has a wonderful palate and mad skills for making flavors pop.
One of the things I found interesting is that all these bloggers, most of whom had never met, immediately began sharing cocktails. Everyone tasted everyone else's. I love it. I am only mildly germophobic, but I thought, WTF? The above cocktail is interesting. Interesting and wonderful. Called "Green Intensity", it is made from Aviation gin, lime juice, a serrano chile and basil leaves. Before tasting, several people asked me, "Taste it and tell us what country it is. Name a country!" I passed the litmus test by deeming it Thailand, hands down. I don't even like gin, and this was one of the most interesting cocktails I have ever had. A fascinatingly Thai-like mixture of spicy chile, sweet and citrusy lime with the basil also strongly represented in the flavors. I would return to STK for this drink alone. If you like spicy and interesting, get in there and drink one.
Above was the equally fascinating Capsicum Mojito, made from Bacardi, lime juice, mint leaves and bell pepper. I am not normally a fan of bell pepper flavors cooked with other ingredients because I find it to be too dominant. However, as a key ingredient in this cocktail, it is wonderful. The flavor of this was so bright, so saturated, so beautiful. Definitely a desert island cocktail if there ever was one.
Some of the other treats we all shared. Clockwise from the upper left: STK's Delicious with Patron and red raspberries (too much fruit, IMO), the Strawberry Cobbler with Chinese 5 Spice around the rim (yum), UVA Caiparinha (sweetened with honey, which really jumped out), and the Capsicum Mojito.
The hall of mirrors. I love their lounge. D and I hung out here a few weeks ago later in the evening on a Saturday. They had a great DJ spinning some 70's and 80's tunes that rendered us dancing and singing fools.
I actually meandered over to the bar for a Pearfect Martini of my own. Made from Grey Goose pear vodka, lemon juice, St Germain and I assume pear puree. Loved. We were herded into the dining room at about 7:45 and the feasting began.
The bread came out first, natch, and it is beautiful puffy bread baked in individual cast iron mini crocks. Delicious puffy yeasty goodness.
Pablo sent out a cocktail for every single course, bless him and his little pointed horns. First out was the above La Cienega, with Corzo Silver, lime juice, cucumber and mint. I am out of adjectives to describe the wonderfulness of these drinks.
This was hands down my favorite of the night. It was a small course served especially for this event, but they should put it on the regular menu. Called Tomato Four Ways, it has cherry tomato, dried tomato, tomato puree and I am unsure what the fourth preparation was. However, it also had some raw bell pepper, radish and house made mayo. The entire salad was sprinkled with bacon salt. Did you hear me? BACON SALT!!!!!!
This was meant to be a spin on a BLT, and it won my heart.
Next was our salad course. Golden beets with a curry yogurt creme. Wonderful and on the regular menu. I like the curry with the earthy taste of the beets, and the yogurt kept the creme from being oppressively heavy. Definitely a success.
We were served a jumbo lump crab salad with mache greens. I thought this was lovely, but my companions complained about the inferiority of the crab. It wasn't slimy and the flavor didn't seem off at all to me. I asked what it was specifically they didn't like about the crab, but no one offered to articulate it. I thought maybe the crab was canned...and not the best crab I have ever had. But I still thought this was a nice salad.
Looks fine to me, maybe it was over dressed for some.
With the second course, we were all served our very own Capsicum Mojitos! Yay! This was the perfect flavor for the course to follow.
The Japanese Wagyu Lil' Big Macs. Emily told us they serve these at all their STKs, and she is waiting for the big McD to make a stink. So far, so good. And these sliders? So good. Soooo good. Juicy, medium rare..some special sauce and a sesame seed bun. I would definitely order this again. When I come in for Pablo to make my Green Intensity.
Dare I say, nom?
The tuna tartare was tasty. One might wonder how a tuna tartare would be a good pairing with a cocktail as bold as the bell pepper mojito...
This tartare was made with a citrus yogurt and jalapenos and the spice was significant enough to really give it some punch. Very nice rendition of what is now an old stand-by.
Now, gosh darn it. I am missing a cocktail photo! To accompany our mains, Pablo sent out The Great Gatsby, with Hennessey, Cointreau, lemon and orange juices. He calls is a modern spin on a classic sidecar. It was frigging awesome. Not difficult to replicate at home, I would think.
I was not impressed with the snapper. Cooked with ponzu and shiitake brown butter, it was OK. But not surprising since this is a steak house and I have high standards for fish. The presentation is lovely and I am glad they have several sea food options at a steak house.
I was also not sold on the organic roast chicken. Cooked with turmeric and served with beautiful baby carrots, the flesh was dry and meh.
But the beef. The beef was fantastic. Above is the Cowboy Rib Eye. 34 ounces of delicious rich cow flesh served medium rare. Very high quality meat, dry aged, immense decadent flavor.
We were also treated to a filet mignon, my go-to beef. Lean yet incredibly silky. This wowed me. Strangely, they talked about a foie gras butter, and I wondered what dish they were serving it with. The lovely Emily told me it was served on this filet, which seems a waste of good foie. I cannot imagine the flavor of foie standing out against the bold flavor of a filet, I would have rather eaten it on a less intensely flavored starch, or even a veg or grilled fruit. I just couldn't taste it at all. But the filet was beautiful, wet aged, BTW.
Parmesan truffles fries. Tony from Sinosoul swears that he smelled faux truffle on these fries, and I have recently been advised that everything labeled truffle in my kitchen (even my precious black truffle salt which is clearly labeled black truffle in the ingredients) is fake. However I tasted truffle and I liked it, much like Katy Perry except I chewed and swallowed. These are a large fry, and if you like that type of fry, wonderful. Crispy on the outside with soft pillowy potato on the inside.
Other items I did not get a shot of: broccolini (good, always to me), mac and cheese (meh), and the amazing epically ambrosial sweet corn pudding, Eat it. Eat the sweet corn pudding. Get in there and eat it.
Two most entertaining moments of the evening:
1) A suit (was it the CEO? his info is not in the press kit they handed out) told us we were invited to help spread the word that STK is not just a celeb hang, it is a place with great food. The paparazzi doesn't even come anymore. In this little speech, the paps were mentioned three times. Three. Unsure about everyone else, but I couldn't possibly give a hoot that Eva Longoria, Courtney Cox, Milo Ventimiglia and LiLo eat there. (I do kinda care about David Beckham, I am a human female.)
2) When the beautiful and willowy Christine from Choisauce was asked what was her favorite bite of the evening held up the giant bone from a bone in steak she was gnawing on and said, "This bite!"
To recap: The surroundings are glam, the service is excellent (all three times I have been I have had excellent, attentive and friendly service), and there are some very tasty items on the menu. I would gladly eat here again and proudly take guests here to dine with no reservations about quality food. I will definitely be stopping by for cocktails some time in the very near future. I was incredibly impressed with Pablo's talent.
Thank you Emily and Abby for hosting such a wonderful evening.