Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cowboy Star - San Diego Steakhouse

Star Struck
Home, home on the range (top.)Branded with the know-how for cooking cattle, Cowboy Star roped us in for my meat-loving-man’s birthday with one cut in particular: the 20 oz bone-in strip steak (dry aged 35 days).

Chop shop: The best of bovine lived here, literally. Star’s own butcher shop resided next door, ensuring aged steaks and prime cuts of the highest quality. Rare choices like the bone-in strip were just one of many reasons to visit (40 oz. porterhouse for two and 14 oz. bison rib-eye were a couple others).

Star appearance: Country Mouse met City Mouse in this upscale, urban cabin, where exposed wooden rafters raised the roof and half-moon booths wore taunt, tanned hides. Hank Williams crooned from speakers above cow-haired chairs that spread out around the fireplace, a saloon-style bar to its left.

Cowhands: Adam, our waiter was accommodating enough, though the second time around we got the Spanish charmer, who was a little creepy, but had amazing attention to detail. At least he would know my favorite drink when he stuffed me in his trunk.

Maine lobster gnocchi – In this sea of Pacific lobster, I often forget my Maine squeeze…oh, claw meat how I’ve missed thee! There’s no comparison to this east coast crustacean with soft bites dissolving on the tongue matched like fine fabric to plumped cushions of gnocchi. Fava beans brought texture and morels rounded it out with light earthiness.

Braised lamb short-ribs – The lure of lamb was never greater than when it arrived, fork tender with the gift of a potato dumpling. But the dumpling was a letdown and though the lamb was seasoned well and matched with a tasty whiskey/currant sauce, the lobster stole the show.

Greater Omaha Prime 20 oz bone-in strip steak - What’s so special about this steak? Well, besides being an almost impossible cut to find as a bone-in option at a restaurant, this strip had been dry aged for 35 days and tasted like some otherworldly, buttered popcorn. But that makes it sound so cheap, so one dimensional …it was just so much better than that.

It was an acid trip for the palate. Layers stacked upon layers of flavor. I thought of Violet Beauregarde tasting Wonka’s gum as she experienced a full dinner service…buttery chews of beef…salty waves crashing…a faint tickle in the back of my throat from freshly ground pepper. This was the best steak I’d ever tasted (including my trip to the celebrated Peter Luger's in Brooklyn), as the meat's age was awakened like an angry bear brought to life with the ferocity of Frankenstein.

Hudson Valley Duck – Now my duck seemed like a big goose egg. There it sat with its delicate, lavender-honey glaze and some crispy potatoes, but along with its extra rare temperature, it paled in comparison to the steak…and that hunk, a hunk of burning love was all I could think about. If you're at the Star, get the steak.

Dessert: Lasso…but not least, we tried the strawberry rhubarb cobbler with buttermilk ice cream and crème brulee – neither was anything special. Skip dessert and keep the focus on their cutting edge cuts of beef.

Knick Knack Patty Wack - I took my bone home for my dog, but in reality, I found myself gnawing on its juicy bits after midnight (I eventually handed it over to my pooch the next day, begrudgingly.)