One of our pleasures over the decades has been a trip to New York to see great shows and eat at great steak houses. I don’t know why the steak houses there seemed so much better than in Los Angeles. Boa is good. Ruth’s Chris is good. And I hear that Cut is good, but out of my price range. But there was something better in New York.
No longer. With the opening of Meat in Santa Monica we’ve caught up with New York (where steak houses have gone downhill anyway). Meat is part of a chain of 11 or so restaurants run by Sam King, the King of seafood (like the Water Grill and Santa Monica Seafood). Meat is in the space formerly I Cucini (“the cousins”) but has been completely reformed into a first-class steak house. And one of the cousins has passed away.
What’s so good about it?
First of all, it’s the meat, stupid. You can get any kind of steak your heart desires, from the 6-oz. little filet for $35 to a NY strip Wagyu for $80, and everything in between. In general, plan to spend about $50 for a top-notch steak.
Second, it’s the aging. You can get an aged steak, if that’s your preference (some people don’t really like that taste). And you can see your (future) steak aging in the aging room, through glass windows, in the south-east corner of the restaurant. The steak house has now caught up with the seafood houses that let you see your lobster in a glass water tank before it’s cooked.
Third, it’s the other choices. How about a country fried NY steak with mashed potatoes and gravy for $18? How about a rack of sugar cured baby back pork ribs for $24? There are Lots of sandwiches, but above all note the GREAT side dishes, like slow-cooked charred cabbage (hard to make, I’ve tried it at home). And there is a whole seafood menu in addition to the steaks.
Fourth, it’s the wine selection. The bottles are accessible on racks for you to cuddle and drool over. As some of you know, I was in the wine business for 18 years. I saw a lot of bottles on the racks there that I know and love. And the prices are the lowest mark-up I’ve ever seen in a Santa Monica restaurant.
Last, but among the best features of this restaurant, is the charcuterie bar. There are about 10 varieties of cheese, and nine types of sausages and meats, such as Spanish acorn fed ham, chorizo, bresaola, and so forth. Then there is duck rillettes, foie gras torchon, and chicken liver parfait. All three of which are among my favorites things in life (next to my wife of course).
This restaurant is exactly my idea of a restaurant that makes it worthwhile to go out for dinner and spend your whole paycheck and evening for a dinner with the family. It’s not just the food. First you go in and spend some time ogling over the wines. Then you look over the steaks aging in the frig. When you finally sit down and look out over the Pacific Ocean, start with a little plate of Spanish octopus “a la Plancha” and a glass of Chablis. Then share a nice big steak and a bottle of red wine with someone. Invite the very pleasant and knowledgeable manager, Tascha Guerrero (I hope I spelled it right) to comment on the restaurant business. Have a little dessert and email me about it. The last time I was there I didn’t have room for dessert.
1501 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Merv Hecht, like many Harvard Law School graduates, went into the wine business after law. In 1988, he began writing restaurant reviews and books. His latest book is “The Instant Wine Connoisseur, 3d edition” available on Amazon. He currently works for several companies that source and distribute food and wine products internationally. Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.