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Restaurants & Bars 11

Mastro's First Timer Tells All

jaydee | Jun 23, 200511:46 AM

As posted yesterday, I had the fortune of being able to try Mastro's out for the first time - with some coworkers and our friends/significant others. We had a very enjoyable evening and I think the steaks - although pricey - are the best in the city.

7PM reservations - our entire party arrives a bit late – but this is of no worry to the Host as we are promptly seated once the entire party is together. I requested the upstairs dining area, because I read it was suitable for a group (loud) and had some nice live jazz. Upon walking upstairs, I noticed two things – the place is pretty damn dark and the dining area was cramped as hell. I think our party (11) was sat at a table designed for 8 – but we made due – I mean, we DID come late to the reservation. After settling in, we decided that although it was cramped, we would need to be sitting pretty close in order to hear each other over the buzz of the room.

The start of the evening was kind of a bummer because the entire place was packed and the service was excruciatingly slow. A trip to the bathroom revealed that there was turmoil between the servers and bus boys in our section, and that there was some displeasure amongst other tables in our area re: the attention and service (i.e. water refills and cocktail orders). Our waiter finally came over to get us our drink orders, and was initially gruff. After we placed several cocktail orders and put in some orders for some wine (a few bottles from the Junior Varsity list), I think he realized we weren’t just chump kids (we were the youngest table in the joint) and were ready to spend some coin. Service improved slightly thereafter and would continue to improve as the night wore on (or maybe the wine and ketel helped to soften the blow of the slow service?). Looking back on it, I think the service was actually methodically paced – similar to dining at a Café Stella, where the service is paced and the meals come out slower than folks are often used to. Sorry for this rant on service……collecting thoughts now…….. ah yes,

We put in an order for the seafood tower for the party to share. Out came these two large displays of seafood, which included crab legs, lobster tail, a selection of the oysters, and shrimp – all complete with a dramatic 5th grade volcano of dry ice fuming from the middle of the tower. I am sure there were other items, but I just focused in on the oysters. Some of the better oysters I had in a while, and I apologize for not remembering their names, but they were from the selection offered on the menu (2 types that evening) and they were definitely not Kumamoto. I felt like they did something to the oysters, like dress it with some faint sauce or something, because they oysters were refreshing (sea water-ish taste) but finished pretty clean. It’s hard to describe, but I had several without any condiments, and I was simply astonished on how well these tasted. Now I’m mad I can’t remember the names of the oysters……

On a side note, some posters warned me about the horseradish, our Server even warned us. At one point (after several drinks), I made the mistake of putting a wee bit too much on one of my oysters. Upon putting the oyster into my mouth, there was this nuclear explosion in my mouth and sinuses – and I immediately began to cough and gag. It was unbelievable - . I was pretty embarrassed, and thought, “F*ck, I’m going to be THAT guy who thought he could eat the horseradish and barfed in Mastro’s.” By some miracle of God, I was able to control the cough and swallow the oyster. My eyes watered for like 30 minutes afterwards – unfrigginbelievable.

Some others ordered the crab cakes and French onion soup – all pretty ho hum in my opinion. The crab cakes were decent, lots of crab meat and no filler. I think the remoulade provided was funky in taste – so I just ate the crab cake without dipping, it was pretty bland as a result – a let down of sorts.

Our mains came out – I had the 33oz. ribeye and the Gurlfrend had the bone-in filet. I ordered my steak rare and proactively requested a cold plate (thanks for the reminder guys). My steak came out perfectly cooked as requested on a cold plate. My GF ordered her filet well done – which made me gasp in horror – so I pretty much wrote off the chance of trying her steak and getting a taste of what this bone-in filet is all about.

The star of the show definitely was the meat – the ribeye, in all seriousness was one of the best steaks I have had in LA. The flavor from the marbling really came out and the butter they used wasn’t at the (sometimes) excessive levels employed at Ruth’s Chris. The butter provided a bit of a hint to the meat, but allowed the meat to shine/stand on its own. Also, I was afraid that my steak would come out charred, but it was not charred – which I appreciated. To spare you of analogies to butter or how the meat simply melted in my mouth – I will simply say that I felt that the combination between flavor and texture of the steak was superb. I actually did not even touch any of the side dishes, which were pretty average in my opinion. Our party shared the following sides:

Lobster mashed potatoes (the special that night) – no real lobster flavor here, pretty lame.
Sweet potato fries – not as sweet as I anticipated. I have had better renditions elsewhere.
Creamed corn – sleeper hit of the night. A classic side that was well pulled off.
Gargantuan onion rings – where do they find these onions? Very bold flavor, went well with the steak. I was unable to try the other sides at the table, I believe they included creamed spinach and the asparagus – but I didn’t mind – I was on a mission to finish the steak.

Dessert was more of an afterthought. I ordered the cheesecake by default and thought it was pretty decent (very soft cheese and good graham cracker crust). Others had the chocolate sin cake which evoked some oohs and ahs – so I assume that was good.

This place was awesome in terms of the steaks, service (paced), and ambiance. Very pricey, so I don’t know how fast I would return if this was out of my own pocket. I think I appreciate its attempt to be a Big Boys steakhouse that you see in NYC. I highly recommend it (especially if you’re treated – HA).

Some few interesting tidbits –

Celebs spotted: Andy Richter and Larry Elder

The Jazz Pianist is pretty sweet. At one point he played Michelle by the Beatles – friggin great. He even did “Easy Like Sunday Morning” by request – on the fly. As I left, he said goodbye and I did one of those lame-drunken-military salutes like I was some cool guy or something.

There’s this great poster of Dino, Sammy, and Frank towards the corner by the bathroom, that just exudes cool.

That is all. Thanks for bearing through this post.

Mastro’s Steakhouse
246 N. Canon Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90210 PHONE 310-888-8782

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