Don't get me wrong - the food is great.
Steak? They have it. And it's decent steak too.
It's almost like a NYC-style steakhouse in the heart of Playa. Trouble is, no one who works there or manages the restaurant has ever been to a NY-style steakhouse.
I'm going to speak with a relationship to American steakhouses here because I think that's what they are going for. Call me ignorant if you want. Whatever. But...
Think for a minute about the last really nice steakhouse experience with impeccable service and great steak...
If you're on the west coast let's talk El Gaucho in Portland/
If you're in the east we're talking Keens in NYC.
At those places you have a TON of waitstaff.
They are like - right here - ready to get you some extra sides if you run out.
If your glass is empty they pour.
If you need something, they are right there.
That's why you have a huge waitstaff - like 3 waiters per table and a "head servant" and all that. El Gaucho in Portland has that. That's what Sonora Grill wants to be. Keens has that. That's what Sonora Grill wants to be.
But here- at Sonora Grill - you have all these people (waiters) "waiting" on you, but it's almost as if they are standing around wondering "what do I do."
When you're paying USD $300 for a meal - you don't wait 10 mins for someone to ask if you need another drink (especially when it's 6-7PM and it's NOT packed).
I wanted a steak, my wife didn't.
Here they serve steaks on a burning hot slab.
Your table gets a steak. It comes on a real hot ceramic slab (maybe it's salt - I dunno!). you cut it on there and share it.
I got the steak, my wife didn't, and they just threw this 3,000 degree slab in front of me like it was my plate.
It would have been great it I could have moved the medium-rare steak from the 3,000 degree slab to a plate so it would stop cooking and I could eat it without burning all of my taste buds off - but I didn't have a plate.
So here I am - sitting here with a $100 USD steak that's supposed to be resting but they slapped it in front of me on a hot slab - and I'm waiting for the attention of one of the 4 - 7 waiters to see my glance so I can request a plate. Why do I need a plate? So the darn thing stops cooking itself!
Anyway, by the time I got a plate, the thing went from medium-rare and perfectly cooked to medium well - sitting there on that slab.
I get it.
I wanted steak, my wife didn't. And normally people just put that steak on a hot rock right in the center of the table and share between 4 people.
But I wanted to eat all 28 ounces of that glorious red meat all by myself. My wife's not into that super rare meaty goodness.
The first bites?
I ate them off the burning slab.
Sweat was pouring from my brow because I had a 3,000 degree piece of stone with a 28-ish ounce steak right out of the oven right in front of me.
That steak was tasty.
But the thing is - by the time I could get a waiter to get me a plate to put it on - that steak had cooked itself to a medium well to well. Gray all the way through. Maybe a hint of red.
They have a drink cart in one section of the restaurant.
Bartender comes around, weaving his cart in and out of tables awkwardly, so he can make your drink at your table.
Cool? Just make it at the bar.
The steak was good.
The sides were good.
The bread was good.
The drinks were good.
But I've dinned at other steakhouses that deliver a much better experience from a service & organization perspective.
Think about it.
When you get a steak "medium rare" or "rare" that you're about to pay $100 - $150 for - and they serve it on a hot slab so it keeps cooking itself right in front of you - and they don't give you a plate to put it on so that you have to eat it off of this slab that keeps cooking it...
...and it's hard to get the attention of any of the 7 waitstaff working a dinning room of just as many patrons....
Is it worth it?
My basic thought:
"Corporate" wants to replicate NYC steakhouse.
"Management" has never seen what that is.
Result = reasonably tasty food, poor execution.
Call me an American that doesn't know crap. Call me spoiled. Tell me "It's mexico, what do you want."
Do all that then eat here.
Once you're done, compare your experience to SUR just down the street on 5th. Steak was just as good at SUR - if not better because they served it to me on a plate instead of a 3,000 degree cooking slab - and there was none of the "we so fancy, but we have no purpose because we don't understand steakhouse service" staff pretentiousness - but it was still just pretentious enough to say you ate at an expensive steakhouse.
On top of this all:
I ate some trip tacos on Juarez that put my meal to shame.
Don't go to Playa and eat at a steakhouse.
But, if you still want to eat at a steakhouse - only go here if you want to impress friends when you pick up a big tab.
Otherwise, I liked SUR better.
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