Thursday, September 18, 2014

Restaurant #500 is a Master of the Steak

Mastro's Steakhouse
633 Anton Blvd. 
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

This is a pretty big post for our blog, so I thought we should go to a big time restaurant. Yes, for those of you counting at home, this is our 500th different restaurant that we have covered on this blog. 500 restaurants in 557 blog posts, and this big round number deserves a restaurant as big as that number, that's why we headed to Mastro's Steakhouse in Costa Mesa. Well that reason, and also because it was Costa Mesa Restaurant Week. Can't pass up a great bargain at a pricey restaurant.

Costa Mesa Restaurant Week always takes me by surprise. Most restaurant weeks are early in the year, right after the holidays, when restaurants are normally less crowded. In January and February, most people overspent on the holidays, and are probably having to cut back by eating Cup O Noodles for a month or two, while they build their bank accounts back up. I briefly looked at the other restaurants participating in restaurant week, but I knew where I wanted to eat. The pre fixe menu at Mastro's offered your choice of salad, entree, two sides served family style, and a choice of dessert, all for $40.14. Basically you are paying for the entree, and getting the rest for free. A big time bargain. I hurriedly made a reservation.

We arrived at  Mastro's at 6pm on the Monday of this particular restaurant week. I had been here one time before, but that was only for dessert, which we will get to later. We met my good friend Ryan in the bar. True to form he was already on his second cocktail when we walked in, but that's to be expected since he was watching a preseason game involving his woeful Redskins. We had a quick drink before heading to the dining room. The bar area was dark, with muted conversations going on between business clad people discussing what I imagined to be the days activities at their workplaces. After downing our libations we were lead to the dining room by one of the hosts.

The dining room was actually a lot more lively than the bar area. It was still quite dark, but the louder conversations really livened up the place. There was a good mix of customers here. Most were older professionals, but there was also some younger people celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. We had no need for the regular menu, but I was curious to see how much things cost here. Most steaks are in the $50 range, with the most expensive one being the 48 ounce double cut porterhouse for $96. Just like at all upscale steakhouses, the entrees come with just the meat, and sides are extra. That's why this restaurant week menu was so strong. Let's see if the food here is worth it or not.

Always have to snap a quick shot of the Bread Basket when trying a place. This was a pretty good one at that. Both Ryan and Katie were pretty fond of the pretzel bread, while I liked the more traditional slices. I was also pleased that they gave us plenty of slightly chilled butter for easy spreading.

The first of the two salads offered on the restaurant week menu was Katie's selection, the Mixed Greens Salad. Supporting the mixed greens on the plate were cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded carrots, and a vinaigrette dressing. Katie liked this lightly dressed salad.

Of course when I saw Caesar Salad on this menu, I knew I would have to order it. I really enjoyed this version at Mastro's. The produce was fresh, the croutons were crunchy, there was plenty of Parmesan cheese on here, but the dressing is what made this for me. It was creamy, and they had the perfect amount on here. One of my pet peeves when it comes to salads is that a lot of them are under dressed, but this one had the right balance going on here. Not too much dressing where it overpowered, and not too little so you could not even notice it. It got me excited for what was to come.

I know this is a steak place, but Katie wasn't feeling like red meat tonight, so she opted for the 10 Ounce. Scottish Salmon. She was pretty impressed with this fish. It lacked any kind of seafood odor, so she knew it was fresh, and it was cooked perfectly, with a very nice tenderness. One of the best pieces of salmon she has had in a long while.

It doesn't look like it in the pictures, but there is an Eight Ounce Petite Filet Mignon on these plates. Both Ryan and I chose to upgrade our meals by adding Oscar Style ($16) to the tops of our filets. The Oscar style is of course Bearnaise sauce and shredded crab, which can never be a bad combination. They were very generous with the amount of crab placed on top of the tender filet. The filet itself was pretty solid as far as filets go. I'm more of a ribeye kind of guy, as filets tend to be the most tender, but they also sometimes lack in the flavor department. That was not the case here at Mastro's, where the steak had a nice beefy flavor, and it was helped along by the Oscar style presentation.

The two side items that came with the restaurant week menu were the Creamed Spinach and Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I was way more partial to the creamed spinach here. It had a very nice cream sauce, that played nicely with the spinach, while sharing the spotlight with it. Sometimes it can be so creamy that the spinach really gets left behind. The mashed potatoes were okay. Needed more garlic, and they were a little too firm for my tastes. I like a little more moisture to my mashed potato. Ryan and Katie both enjoyed these more than the creamed spinach, so what do I know?

Since we were already getting such a good deal at Mastro's on this night, we decided to splurge a little more and have the Lobster Mac and Cheese ($35) as well. Yes, you saw that correctly, thirty-five dollars for mac and cheese. A new record for us, and one that I'm not sure we will break anytime soon. This did have plenty of lobster in it, and the mac and cheese came out scalding hot. I liked this, but was not in love with it. There was plenty of cheese, but it kind of fell flat for me. The lobster is what made this dish for me. Going to have to try their more popular lobster mashed potatoes on my next visit.

Now to the item that brought us here for our first visit a few years ago, the Personal Warm Butter Cake. A dessert so great, it even has its own Twitter handle. That's when you know you have made it. Anyways, this is one of my favorite desserts that we have had during the run of this blog. I'd describe it as a crumb cake on steroids. It is deliciously sweet and rich, and with the addition of the ice cream, it pushes this dessert over the top with deliciousness. Even though I was quite full, I had no trouble taking this butter cake down. Well worth the visit to Mastro's.

This visit was a great one at Mastro's, and even better because it was restaurant week. I added up everything on the restaurant week menu that we had, minus the add on's that we splurged on, and it came to $84 a person, so we saved $43 a person by coming during restaurant week. A real bargain. Not that paying full price here is not worth it, but because it was so cheap, it made this less of a special occasion restaurant, and more of a, "just because" kind of spot. I'd definitely put Mastro's in the upper echelon of steakhouses in OC. The steaks were all very good, and I look forward to coming back here to try their ribeye on future visits, (when someone else is paying). The service we experienced on this night was attentive, but not stuffy. Glad we decided to go big for our 500th restaurant, and look forward to the next 500 plus.

Out of five race cars, (because race cars are involved in races that are 500 miles, and this is our 500th restaurant), five being best to zero being worst, Mastro's Steakhouse gets 4 race cars.

For more information about Mastro's Steakhouse, go to their website here:

Mastro's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

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