Got dragged to this place last night. Turned out to be a revelation.
$35.50 per person. Hmmm...high tariff for a formula place in a mall.
Got seated in a nearly empty restaurant and it was explained that the service depended on the ability of the meat servers to see whether your little tabletop baton had the green or red side pointing up - green for feed me and red for hold off. Not a promising start to a place that is known for its all you can eat style. What's to prevent them from ignoring your signs?
But what a surprise! Of course we kept the green up for as long as possible. Nothing for the first 5 minutes - went to the salad bar. This was the first surprise - almost worth the whole price. Probably 20 salads, some great, some not, but quite the choice. Huge hearts of palm. Shrimp with an exemplary horseradish sauce. Cheeses and olives. Chicken stroganoff that could have mede me happy for a main. Bread. Black beans with huge chunks of stewed beef. Rice. Potatoes. And on... and on... and on.
Got back to the table with embarassingly full plates to find the meat guy waiting with huge skewers of top sirloin. He cut as much as you wanted and placed it on the plates. Hot! Rare (you get your choice). Succulent. Many New Yorks at Ruth's, Palm, Arnie's, and Taylor's only dream of this texture and flavor. Within 3 minutes sauages plus juicy roast chicken. A minute later turkey chunks wrapped in bacon, then two minutes later garlic infused flank steak and a huge rack of barbecued beef ribs which he sliced in thick wedges. Had to raise the surrender red baton to keep from being literally blown away.
Beef is the thing. Though there is nothing wrong with the non beef items, turkey - even with bacon - gets lost. Chicken is all texture. Who can taste anything unbeefy after the garlic steak?
Someone (not me) turned the baton over and the deluge recommenced. Bacon wrapped filet was a revelation - better than, not equal to, Mastro's and Arroyo. There is something about having it come right off the coals on a skewer and then have this guy carve it off right on to your plate. More? No problem - tell me when to stop. 3 minutes later, flank steak, skirt steak (didn't know there was a big difference), rib eye. A minute later, grilled pork roast and succulent roasted duckling. OK, stick with the beef, but these did provide some interest.
My 18 year old carnivore began to have alterations in his consciousness from all the meat and my protesting PETA 22 year old had to admit that the non beef entrees were not that bad (mainly the duck - said to be wild - and salad bar).
Had to keep the red side up after that. Interesting Rio de Janiero videos added some atmosphere.
Wines are ok - Chilean by the glass were reasonably priced ($7-12) and true meat loving wines. Drinks are mediocre and overpriced ($9 for a Mojito which is not that special). Forget the premade desserts. Who in their right mind would have room for them anyway.
This is a serious place that transcends it's formula. The cheapest steak at Ruth's is about the same price as a carnivorous orgy here (and you don't have any distracting and nauseating fried butter). Mastro's is better, and Arnie Morton is as good but both are much more expensive. If it holds up on a second visit, this will be one of my favorites of the year.
Disclaimer - we got there before 6 pm. Not sure what happens to the fire-hydrant like meat service later in the evening.
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