I guess I've been spending too much time shopping: I've now tried all three of the sit-down Westfield Center Restaurants (or at least the three that I know about on the fourth floor), and while I wouldn't go back to either Zazil or Straits, I think there is hope for Lark Creek Steak, which hubby and I tried last night.
Short report: Pricy, and my fruit wood grilled New York steak was overseasoned and much too salty, to the point where I debated whether to send it back. I decided not as it was done perfectly rare as requested, and I was very hungry, but I found myself dipping bites in the steak sauce served on the side, which was rather sweet, to counter the salt. (you are given a choice of sauces, I went with the house sauce). Would have much rather eaten it with no sauce to appreciate the flavor.
I think the grill guy just had a heavy hand with salt, because nothing else was the least bit oversalted: indeed, the sides and apps were for the most part quite tasty.
I had a cauliflower soup with Nantucket Bay scallops: very typical of what I would expect from a Bradley Ogden place, IMO: fresh, very American but with the unexpected burst of sweetness from the scallops to offset the savory soup, and delicious (I should mention that I am a Bradley Ogden fan, more of his cookbooks than his restaurants, though I enjoy the restaurants I've tried...). Hubby enjoyed his Ceasar salad. Sides we tried included roast brussel sprouts (with cumin, yum!), and whipped potatoes (nice consistency, but bland). The buttermilk biscuits to start the meal were fluffy and delicious and rich all at the same time, and served with some type of porky butter...
The wine list was somewhat limited and California focused, but a decent selection of half bottles. Service was fine.
The great part was that, without a reservation, we were seated at the corner of the just opened counter overlooking the open kitchen. In fact, last night was the first night of kitchen counter seating. This is as good or better of a kitchen view as any restaurant I've been to in San Francisco: better than Boulevard even, which I've always enjoyed, even though watching steaks being grilled isn't necessarily as inherently interesting as watching the line cooks in action at Boulevard.(though we also had a very good view of app, soup and salad prep. I didn't see any dessert prep and wondered if they are made elsewhere. didn't try dessert). I could see this being a very popular seating option: would much rather sit there than at the crowded banquet along the wall (though the booths looked nice). Anyway, a great show, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Bottom line: at those prices, if I were in the mood for a really good steak and a nice cozy meal with hubby, I'd probably go to Acme Chop House or possibly Alfred's. However, if I were in town on business and eating alone on an expense account, the counter at Lark Creek Steak would be high on my list for an enjoyable, interactive dinner (together with some retail therapy....). I'd certainly recommend it for those who enjoy counter dining, just ask them to go easy on the salt...
p.s. a hint: though we didn't try it, they do have a very reasonably priced prix fixe dinner available every night of 'Bradley Ogden classics': ceasar salad, yankee pot roast and butterscotch pudding for $29. Would be interested in any reports, because if it is good, that is clearly the way to get the 'cheaper' seats and still enjoy the show.