The story is well documented. Wolfgang Zwiener was the headwaiter for 43 years at Peter Luger, long considered the best steakhouse in the country. In 2004, he crossed the East River with son Peter to open Wolfgang’s Steakhouse. He must have paid careful attention to his employers, since the native German now owns two steakhouses in Manhattan, one in Hawaii and one in Beverly Hills. Mattatouille and I received an invitation to have dinner at the Beverly Hills branch. The Porterhouse definitely lived up to the hype. No other dish managed to keep pace, but the meat still bares repeating.
It usually isn’t worth including photos of complimentary bread, but Wolfgang’s basket was exceptional. The onion rolls were soft and pull-apart, sporting both crispy and caramelized onions.
Canadian Bacon ($2.95) was the true bargain on the menu, a thick slab of sweet, salty hog meat with striations of melting fat.
Wolfgang’s Salad ($13.95) combined tomato, onion, roasted red bell pepper, shrimp, bacon and green beans in light creamy vinaigrette. The success of this salad hinged on the quality of the tomatoes, and they just weren’t in season. Given that, Wolfgang probably should have shelved the salad until summer.
The single Crab Cake ($18.95) incorporated lump chunks of sweet Alaskan king crab, but the hockey puck-sized patty involved too much breading. The squeeze of lemon helped, but more plump crab would have helped more.
Porterhouse for 2 ($87.50) was the natural choice. After all, the combination New York strip and filet mignon was the special during Zwiener’s time at Peter Luger. Zwiener still selects all the corn-fed beef in New York. The beef is dry-aged for 28 days once it arrives in Beverly Hills, increasing flavor and marbling. Steaks are all cut on site and grilled at 800 degrees before a waiter serves it on a sizzling 300-degree platter in a shallow pool of butter. The Porterhouse is already carved into four-bite chunks by the time it hits the table. The steak arrived exactly as we requested – medium-rare – pink at the center, with an incredible micro-char. Eat your steak quickly, since the beef continues to cook on the sizzling platter. By the end of the meal, the Porterhouse was closer to medium than medium-rare. It was surprising how little difference there was between the New York and filet. I expected the New York to be significantly fattier, but it wasn’t.
According to our stellar waiter – Mario – bottles of house-made steak sauce are kept on tables for a maximum of 5 days. The sweet sauce may have been fresh, but the Porterhouse was clearly better off unadorned. No need to muddle the flavor of superior steak.
German Potatoes ($12.95) were a letdown. The onion-studded outer crust was overcooked until dry.
Creamed Spinach ($9.95) wasn’t creamy in the least and featured an off-putting tang.
Wolfgang’s Apple Strudel ($9.95) avoided the syrupy pitfall of lesser versions, but the base was burned. Thankfully, all of Wolfgang’s desserts are accompanied by with homemade “schlag,” a top-flight whipped cream.
After our meal, Mario led us on a tour of the impressive aging room, with each side of Prime beef tagged with the delivery and due dates.
Wolfgang’s definitely delivered on the Porterhouse, which had an ideal char, and the Canadian bacon was luscious, but the sides didn’t keep up. Wolfgang’s Porterhouse definitely compared favorably to other L.A. steaks, and it would even be worth the price of re-admission, but next time, I plan to skip the starters and sides.
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August 24, 2009 at 8:53 AM
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