Special occasions call for special restaurants, and when a friend and former coworker decided he was going to pack it up and move back home to the ATL, it was the perfect time for some old friends to get together, reminisce about the good old days and send him off in style. We quickly came to a consensus on Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, a modern American steakhouse with Japanese influences that does some pretty amazing things with meat.
The first thing you notice when you walk into the restaurant is the meat locker on the left that contains huge slabs of dry-aged beef. It’s always nice to know when a restaurant is aging its own beef, and as a meat lover, it’s really a sight to behold.
We were presented with a really nice ahi tartare amuse bouche to kick off the meal. A few of us decided to try the Hamachi Shot off the small plates menu, one of Alexander’s most popular appetizers (it’s also the cheapest at $4). It’s a shot glass filled with hamachi, red chili, frizzled ginger, avocado, and truffled ponzu, and you simply stir it up a bit and then shoot it. It’s quite a rush, and I loved the slight kick you get from the chili.
Salads quickly followed, including my Baby Lettuce salad with yuzu vinaigrette, red radish, ten kasu, and the optional bacon lardons (of course!). The Iceberg Lettuce salad featured living watercress, point reyes blue cheese, and apples and was plated beautifully. Before our main courses arrived, we cleansed our palates with an intermezzo—a refreshing shot of mango juice and chopped strawberries.
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Between the eight of us, only three different entrees were ordered—five orders of the 10 oz. filet mignon, two orders of the Melange a Trois (including mine) and one Misoyaki Sea Bass. The filets were excellent and topped with shiitakes and candied bacon. The sea bass was served with sansho crispy squid, tempura green beans, curried trout roe, beurre noir, and their crunchiness was a nice contrast to the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth fish.
The guest of honor and I both ordered the Melange for its variety—Prime Rib in Natural Jus, Braised Shortrib with Brie en Cocette, and Bavette Steak with Green Olives and Bleu Cheese. I also added a piece of Seared Foie Gras to “round out” the meal. :-)
I really liked the prime rib with its smooth, buttery texture and the natural jus was delicious. The shortrib/brie combo was topped with puff pastry, so it was like a really beefy and cheesy pot pie. The Bavette was really good on its own, and seeing it topped with a slice of seared foie gras made it even more decadent. I have to say despite all the hype foie gras gets from foodies, it doesn’t get me all that excited. I think it’s good, but it’s nothing really mind blowing either.
We had a pretty good assortment of sides with our meal, including the Mac and Cheese with Truffle Oil (good but didn’t need the truffle oil), Mashed Potatoes (creamy and perfect), Creamed Spinach (excellent), Asparagus with Bernaise (good), and Haricot Vert with Bacon (too full to appreciate). Of these, the creamed spinach was a standout because of the crispy filo strands (I tend to like things that make food crunchy).
For a steakhouse, Alexander’s does some really creative things with sweets, and luckily, most of us managed to save some space for dessert. Around the table we had the aptly named Divinity (chocolate soufflé with créme anglaise), Ooh! (chocolate sphere filled with fudge, chocolate black olive ice cream and black velvet cake), Blush (mango panna cotta with passion fruit sorbet and honey gelée), and Velvet Ropes (blueberry lavender créme brülée with maple ice cream). The chocolate decadence of the Ooh! was my favorite of these, but I also liked the mango panna cotta. The soufflé was also really good, but I wasn’t really into the hints of lavender in the créme brülée.
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If you’re too full and choose not to order dessert, you’ll still get a glimpse of where they’re coming from when they bring the cotton candy to the table. On previous visits, the cotton candy was much smaller and part of a petit fours that concluded the meal. (Can you say “whimsical” boys and girls? I knew you could) Now, you’ll see carnival-sized helpings of cotton candy being delivered to tables while you eat. I don’t know if they change the flavors of their cotton candy, but last night’s was grape, and it was awesome. (I also love grape-flavored things, like Kool-Aid, Jolly Ranchers and Dimetapp.)
Aside from the excellent food, the service at Alexander’s is top notch. They were great at explaining all the dishes and taking care of anything we needed. As we get older and our schedules get more complicated (kids, work, etc.), it gets harder for friends to go out and enjoy each other’s company while having an amazing meal. Luckily, when we do find the time to get together, there are places like Alexander’s that can take away the stress so you can just relax and have a good time.