Was invited by two business aquaintances to join them for dinner at Mastros Beverly Hills last night. They were picking up the tab, so I said yes.
Met in the bar for cocktails, where I had my first shock...three martini's (2 Grey Goose, 1 Tanquerey) were $60. That's right, with tax, almost $20 a piece.
When I saw the check, I silently thanked the food gods for having this meal be paid for.
We were taken upstairs to the dining room right on time, and I was struck by how packed it was. Not only busy, but tables "packed" right next to each other in the dining room. To be fair, it didn't seem to be bothering anyone else in the dining room. All I saw were happy faces. Lots of noise (the good kind), and a piano player playing.
Led to our table, we were greeted quickly by our server. My hosts had been there before, but since I hadn't, our server did the whole "here's how we do it" spiel, including the house specialties and daily specials. To her credit, she was very enthusiastic.
As she left with our wine/oyster order, I was hit in the arm by a food runner for the first of what would be 4 times. The aisle way I was seated on was very narrow, and it didn't seem to be on anyone's mind to try and not run into the customers with trays or body parts.
I opened the menu after she left, and was pleased once more that I would not be paying. The steaks ran from +-$30-50. A la carte.
We ordered one Tomato/Mozzarella salad and one "wedge" (which was recommended by our server). I thought both were lousy. I know it's too early for tomatoes, but even the mozz was lame. The wedge (which seems hard to mess up), was equally blah: all I tasted was red wine vinegar.
The server brought out our wine next: a California Cab whose name escapes me now. My host ordered it and it was fine, and the wine service was perfectly OK, also.
Then, the steaks. All three of us ordered the 18oz bone-in filet, which the server had said was the house specialty. With that, we ordered Mushrooms, Sugar Snap Peas, and a nightly special, Gnocchi with Truffles and Crab Meat.
The steaks were superb. It was quite extrordinary, in fact. Usually, I order a strip or ribeye, but I am thrilled that I went with the reccommendation, as I couldn't think of another steak I've ever had that made me quite as happy.
The side dishes were uneven. Mushrooms were fine, but nothing special...I like more "wild" in my mushrooms. The sugar snap peas were overcooked.
But the gnocchi...My God, the gnocchi! It was hands down the best I've ever had. I was stunned that the same kitchen that had designed and executed some truly mediocre dishes for me-that night!-had also put out this masterful, complex, layered dish. It was outstanding, and truly one of the top 20 dishes I've ever had.
On to desserts and scotch: Key Lime Pie and Apple Tart. Absolutely awful. I mean it. Terrible by any standards. If I had paid $3 for each at Ralphs, I would have been disappointed. We each took one bit of each, and immediately stopped. Calling them inedible would be hyperbole, but they were of a wretched quality that I think even TGI Friday's would be embarrassed by.
Three martinis, one bottle of wine ($100) three entrees, 6 oysters, two salads, two desserts, three scotches, and one coffee came to the tidy sum of $520...$620 with tip.
The service, steak and gnocchi were all WAY above average, but there were so many sour notes with the other dishes, that I just don't feel like it's worth the money that we paid.
That said, it seems like just a LITTLE bit of effort toward tightening up their menu would go a long way.