First up for the "Great Steakhouse Challenge" dinner series was Taylor's Steakhouse at the La Canada location. Things I've heard previously about Taylor's is that it has a 50's-style steakhouse feel. Once you step inside the restaurant, wood paneling and leather booths'll greet you. The steaks themselves aren't meant to be anything fancy, but just good quality meat and the added bonus is that prices at Taylor's are supposed to reasonable; thus, there's no need to mortgage your house for a nice steak dinner.
Upon entering the restaurant, you definitely get that retro 1950s throwback feel to the restaurant. Just as I heard, there's wood paneling and rich mahogany leather booths. The walls are lined with a variety of paintings framed in dark wood or gold metal frames. One of the doors leading into one of the dining areas has etched glass as part of the door itself along with a fancy monogrammed "T". The bar had a lively, noisy atmosphere and definitely had the look and feel of a neighborhood bar hangout.
When I arrived, almost everyone was already seated in the outside patio and it was definitely a pretty night to eat outside. Along with candles on our table, additional lighting was supplied by strings of lights that hung just below the awning that was on the outside perimeter of the patio. When we finally got our menu and took a look, you saw all the usual suspects to order when you're at a steakhouse, everything from seafood to chicken to sandwiches, but of course, we were there for steaks.
According to our waitress, one of the things that Taylor's is known for is "The Culotte", which according to the menu was "The most tender cut of the Top Sirloin - Only two cuts per cow." So for me, The Culotte was my choice for the evening. This order usually comes with a salad as a starter and than a vegetable and some type of potato with the meal itself. Instead of the mashed or baked potatoes, I opted for the housemade potato chips.
After a bit of time, my meal and everyone else's meal arrived. With my dinner, came some kind of spinach that looked like creamed spinach without the cream. All I know is that it was cooked to mushy imperfection. It's amazing what sad things can be done to greens in general. Also, there wasn't really anything special about the housemade potato chips. It was a little meatier than what you'd normally find in a Lay's bag, but it was so plain. I think I would have liked some kind of paprika or some other kind of "red" seasoning to give it a kick.
As for the Culotte, I didn't think this particular cut of meat was really that tender. Don't get me wrong; it wasn't tough, but when I see something that's referred to as "the most tender," I have pretty high expectations. In my head, I'm thinking melt in my mouth tender. Of course, the fact that I had asked for medium and got steak leaning more towards medium well didn't help matters either.
In fact, we definitely had a couple of other instances where the meat wasn't cooked according to expectation. In one case, someone's rib eye was medium well when it should have been medium. When this error was brought to our waitress' attention, she actually argued that the steak we considered to be medium well is actually Taylor's definition of being medium. It didn’t look like she was willing to take it away until a manager was asked for and only then did the manager have the steak taken away to be replaced by what the customer ultimately wanted, which was a medium cooked steak. However, to get the medium cooked steak, the request was to cook this new steak medium rare. Another example had someone's steak coming in medium rare when he wanted more medium well.
In general, how Taylor's defines "medium" vs. "medium rare" vs. "medium well", etc., was just sort of funky. It was almost as if everything was one to two degrees off of where it should be (e.g. medium = medium well). Anyway, back to my Culotte. It was just very disappointing. It didn't live up to its hype on the menu. The tenderness wasn't there nor was it very moist. I actually added steak sauce simply because I wanted to make it less dry. By the way, I used the Taylor's Steakhouse steak sauce and didn't care for it that much. Too citrusy. Too sweet. I think I'm more of a peppery steak sauce kind of gal.
I can only speak for my own cut of steak. Perhaps others at the table enjoyed theirs more and if so, please add your comments to this thread, but for me, I won't be making a return visit to Taylor's Steakhouse. Given all the choices out there, why settle for something that's not that great when there's probably something better around the corner.
To see pics, go to:
901 Foothill Blvd
La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011-3339