What's in a name? Apparently if your first name is Wolfgang and you have a steakhouse with your first name on it, it's big enough deal to have a lawsuit involved. Hence, the war of words of whose reputation was better in having that name. Both would still get pwned if Amadeus wants a piece of this action.
DineLA Restaurant Week afford some of us common folks a chance to "taste test" out a three course prefix menu for a mere $34 for dinner. Just like my review for the Border Grill, I was very excited to try out a place I normally would never go because based on all calculations, I would have to spent two full tank of gas for one meal here. Believe me, sacrifices are made and a steak in Beverly Hills are not high on the priority list.
When our lovely foodie friend, Gourmet Pig decided to extend myself and RumDood an invitation to dine here for the DineLA Week special, we both jumped on it right away. It's funny... I can called him the "Dood", but I can't called her "The Pig". What was that all about?
Speaking of which, we don't get the fuss about name "Wolfgang" either and especially on whom was more known for cooking a steak. Does it have to be Wolfgang Puck to enjoy a steak? Wolfgang Zwiener, the man behind this steakhouse with his proud name have been in the restaurant business for 4 decades. Zwiener promised an USDA "Prime" graded beef for every steak. This is where this place was put to the test to see if we could actually taste that difference.
When we entered the front dining room with a full bar, we have all thought the restaurant was very classy in their upscale take on a steakhouse restaurant. This was not the "trendy" outtakes that STK or BLT have tried to convey for an upscale steakhouse. Wolfgang's was going for elegance and classy, while the other two were going for the hip factor.
We were happy enough to be in the front dining room next to the bar. However we were going to get happier once we passed the front dining room and entered a private glass enclave room surrounded by shelves of wine bottles. That's when we were starting to get impressed. The Dood and I thought the Notorious P.I.G. used her influences to secure this table. She insisted nothing of such have taken place. (We would have been totally impressed if she have that kind of connection). There was a lot more leg room and we didn't have to bump elbow room with other diners at this particular spot in the restaurant.
As we have enjoyed the atmosphere and luck of scoring a prime dining table, we decided to stick to our original plan at ordering from the DineLA menu instead of the more expensive regular menu. For appetizer, we went in different directions. While my dining mates both went with the lobster bisque, I have decided to go with the popular Wolfgang's salad. The salad comes with chopped shrimps, bacon, tomatoes, onions, string beans, and red peppers on a lettuce cup. It was a safer bet and a much refresher item to start off before the meat.
Wolfgang's Salad (photo courtesy of Exile Kiss)
I have to call in a pinch hitter for this photo as I was either hypnotized by the Notorious P.I.G. or maybe I was too engrossed talking to the Dood as my photo of the Wolfgang's salad was too blurry. The photo of the Wolfgang's salad was kindly shared by Exile Kiss.
Now here's the bummer part about the DineLA menu, it did not contain the most popular dish on the menu: the porterhouse steak. The best item was the filet mignon. I wanted to try their Grilled King Salmon, but I was advised against it. The final item, the lamb chops seemed like a risky bet considering it would be a big miss if it was not cooked thoroughly. So I went with the majority in our table and ordered the medium rare Filet Mignon.
At first I was going to complain about the burnt on the outside edge of the steak. It looked like it was left on the hot plate too long. Then I read in the NY Magazine about Zwiener's former work place, Peter Luger's, (where he got his first start as the head waiter in that establishment) which stated that it was very common for that kind of mark to exist on the steak at Peter Luger's.
Is it worth remembering? According to NY Magazine, indeed the steak would not be the same without that mark. After having the medium rare steak cooked almost about right, it wasn't really a big deal. The German potatoes that accompanied the steak is almost like a hash brown with onions. Oh wait, it is hash brown with onions! German potatoes just sound so much more fancy.
To end the night, my dining companions both wanted apple strudel, while I went against the grain and took the Cheesecake. Neither one of us enjoyed our dessert. They both complained about being too dry with their strudel and my cheesecake with huge slob of whip cream on the side was too boring. I'm not hating it, but it wasn't really that extraordinary.
Hence, the big question: Was my night extraordinary in Zwiener's Steakhouse? Yes and No. Yes in that the service was outstanding throughout the night. We got lucked into a better dining table in that private glass enclave room (we would have been ok in the front room anyways). The price was worth it for $34 as I found out that the filet mignon itself would have cost $40 for regular price alone. The only reservations we had was that if this place was a paygrade above other steakhouse like Ruth Chris's or even STK. It was, but not quite extraordinary we had hoped.
I think if we came in next time to order that $50 porterhouse steak, we might enjoy it bit more. However, we did enjoyed the ambiance and our dining experience here. The food itself was on par, but it just didn't go above and beyond. It does have a huge potential and I think this place would make a great spot for a romantic dinner.
Read the Gourmet Pig's take on Wolfgang's Steakhouse at the same night here.