Sunday was my birthday. My sister took me and two friends to Mastro's for dinner. This was at my request. I'd had a great steak at their Scottsdale restaurant a month or so ago and wanted to see if the LA restaurant would hold up.
Well, it did and it didn't. On the upside, the steaks were sublime. Three of us had the NY strip. One had the bone-on rib eye. All four steaks were cooked perfectly as requested. This meat is -- how can I put this -- an actual different food from the beef one customarily eats. It's virtually unrelated, say, to the beef in an In-n-Out burger or a Sizzler steak, and is orders of magnitude better than the same steak at the Palm (my former favorite) or Morton's. My steak was flavorful, tender, just a great piece of prime, aged beef, well trimmed and cut, carefully and precisely cooked.
The side dishes are servicable. We shared mushrooms, steamed brocolli, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and creamed corn. None of the side dish portions were particularly generous for dishes designed "to share".
One of their little "touches" was extremely annoying. They serve the steaks on extremely hot ceramic plates. So if you put, say, creamed spinach on your plate, the spinach got too hot to eat -- it actually continued to cook. I ended up with burned hollandaise sauce (the steamed brocolli comes with it on the side) on my plate. The plate was still too hot to touch when I was finished with my meal. Next time I'll know to ask that my steak be served on a room-temperature plate.
We didn't have dessert so I can't comment there. The offerings were standard. We would have enjoyed sharing something but nothing leapt off the dessert menu at us.
Before dinner I had a "Mastro's Cosmopolitan". I think someone described it on the board a few weeks ago. It's served with a chunk of dried ice in the glass -- so it bubbles like a witches brew -- and about half a glass more of the drink in the shaker alongside. I thought this dry ice deal was just a gimmick when I heard about it, and I was afraid if it floated around I'd burn my lips on it. Not so. Somehow the dry ice stays fixed in the bottom of the glass and the effect is that the very generous cocktail stays cold to the last sip -- a great thing in this world of too-large cocktails.
Where Mastro's really fails is on service. From the snotty little hostess who snapped at me when I asked whether they had valet parking (after sitting at the valet station for 5 minutes and finally parking across the street) to our condescending waiter, the service limps. My party and I are regular folks, not trendy lounge lizards, but so were lots of other patrons. I actually had to summon our waiter the first time. I don't see why a minimum-wage hostess thinks she's somehow superior to someone paying a $300 dinner check for four people. In any case, social commentary aside, they'd be better off with friendly, helpful staff than the people they have now. As is so often the case in a restaurant with condescending service, the Spanish-speaking bus boys were much more friendly, helpful and attentive than the anglo staff members.
Would I go back? The steak is worth it. If they had better service, I'd figure out a way to go back regularly.
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