After a long round of expense account restaurants, mainly on the Westside, I had to choose where to go on my own dime. After beginning to think that no Westside restaurant lives up to its hype (ok, I know this is an overgeneralization, but have just come off a string of these) I dragged my friends all the way to Pasadena for a night off. Restaurants in Pasadena may not be "up to Westside standards", but neither are many places that are actually on the Westside. I have listed Cafe Beaujolais under a separate post as I have been accused of excessively long posts in the past.
Arroyo Chophouse: despite (and maybe partly because of)S. Irene's dire warnings, drove all the way from SM in rush hour to double check that this was still the most comfortable restaurant in town. Totally predictable, totally excellent, as always. If you're willing to sacrifice the possibility of tours de force that sometimes knock your socks off (though lately, rarely) at edgier places, this is a good choice.
The rooms are dark and clubby, with a not unpleasant rumble of conversation. There is always a drug company function in the front room with frazzled-looking doctors in shirtsleeves.
Service is efficient, helpful, and entirely unobtrusive, though the bottled water gambit is alive and well. The appetizers are the main failing - not worth the calories. The steaks are excellent, done perfectly to order, and without the awful butter of Ruth's, the unpredictability of Arnie Morton's, or the blandness of Nick and Steph's. Amazingly, the Ahi is spectacularly tender and flavorful (with a crust that includes horseradish). Halibut, and crab legs are fresh and unexpectedly competently prepared. And the sides that just keep coming evoke the hilarity of a good party. Truly fresh, sweet asparagus, roasted corn, exemplary lyonnaise potatoes. Onion rings are greasy and thickly battered and the sauces (on request) are just ok. One apple pie dessert serves four.
Drinks rival Musso and Frank's - huge, cold, and well-executed. Wines by the glass are like the rest of the place - competent, consistent, and just moderately overpriced.
If you want to relax, not worry, and have that great dinner you remember as an adolescent in another part of the country, this is a fine choice. And it puts many of the Westside darlings to shame.