Cupertino’s Alexander’s Steakhouse Opens A San Francisco Outpost

The famous hamachi shooters at Alexander's Steakhouse.

When Executive Chef Jeffrey Stout opened a branch of his Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco’s South of Market district about two months ago, he didn’t think the crowds here would differ much from what he gets at his original location in Cupertino.

But how wrong he was.

While the Cupertino restaurant starts to shut down after 9 p.m. because folks in the South Bay are early eaters, the party is just getting started in San Francisco around 8 p.m. and is still going strong three hours later.

The three-story restaurant (formerly Bacar),  a short hop from the InterContinental San Francisco, epitomizes The City’s eclecticism with its exposed brick walls, dramatic wine displays, custom Japanese shoji screens and bustling exhibition kitchen with cooks dressed in trendy black chef’s coats.

Three floors of glam.

Stout, who is half Japanese, and his business partner, JC Chen, continue their unique, upscale, contemporary, Asian-inflected take on a steakhouse here. But unlike the Cupertino location, there is no jaw-dropping display of meat on display in an aging room right when you walk through the doors. Wasn’t room for it in the San Francisco locale, Stout says. Instead, all the meat is butchered at the Cupertino restaurant, then trucked to the San Francisco one twice a week.

As a result, there’s mega meat on the menu: Niman Ranch Prime T-Bone Steak with grilled lemon and a trio of salt; Strip Steak with kimichi butter and shishito pepper pistou; and pricey Japanese A5 Wagyu, the highest grade.

But what I’ve always enjoyed about Alexander’s is that it also offers a variety of Japanese seafood preparations for folks like me who crave that far more than a big hunk of meat.

Recently, I was invited in as a guest to try the new San Francisco outpost.

I couldn’t resist starting with the signature hamachi shots, a classic from the original Alexander’s in Cupertino. They’re $4 each or $22 for half a dozen. These little glasses are filled with a palate-awakening mix of raw hamachi, jalapeno, avocado, ginger, lime juice and truffled ponzu sauce. Don’t even bother ordering just one, because after you down it, you’ll surely want another.

Dishes like this beautiful sashimi reinforce the notion that you're not an your average steakhouse.

Hirame sashimi ($15) brought delicate little rolls of raw fish accented by heirloom tomatoes and yuzu gelee.

Next, oshitashi ($15), a molded ring of Dungeness crab, trout roe and soy sauce pearls that burst as you bit down on them. At the table, matsutake consomme was poured over it all. This beautiful dish was at once salty, sweet, earthy, bracing and unforgettable.

Dungeness crab in a matsutake broth.

Before the main courses arrived, we were treated to little spoonfuls of apple celery sorbet with golden raisin sauce. It was far sweeter than most palate cleansers. But with its almost autumn pie-like flavors, it was definitely a welcome flavor at this time of year. Still, we wondered if it might have been more appropriate after the main courses and preceding dessert.

A spoonful of apple-celery sorbet.

Of course, my husband (aka Meat Boy) couldn’t pass up the 24-ounce T-bone ($54). It arrived in all its glory on a plate with a selection of salts — fleur de sel, pink Polynesian and smoked — so that you could season it as you saw fit. The steak was enormous and juicy, with a big beefy flavor that had a long finish.

The mighty T-bone.

And striped bass with a hit of kimchi.

My striped bass ($42) arrived with a crispy skin, as well as a dainty lobster dumpling, cloud-like ginger foam and a hit of heat from the dice of kimchi on the plate.

You won't leave any of these fries behind.

Brussels sprouts made tangy and sweet.

Truffle fries ($12) were oh-my-gawd good with a potato Parmesan puree to dunk them in that was a genius idea. And a side of Brussels sprouts with balsamic, proscuitto and raisins was almost sweet-and-sour-like in the best of ways.

Nutty, creamy, sweet kabocha squash stars in this dessert.

Because I love all things kabocha, I couldn’t pass up the dessert of kabocha financier, praline mousse, caramelized apples, and maple parfait ($12). A thin, crispy squash chip decorated it all. The maple parfait, cold and creamy, was addicting. And the financier moister and denser than the traditional almond.

But dinner at Alexander’s never ends on mere dessert. Other restaurants may offer teeny bonbons or tiny cookies before the check. Not Alexander’s. It wants to leave you giggling like a kid before you depart. That’s why a girly-pink cone of cotton candy is delivered to every table looking like a sugary incarnation of Marge Simpson’s ‘do.

Quite a way to end on a sweet note, isn’t it?

The piece de resistance.


Who can resist?

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Date: Friday, 3. December 2010 5:27
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Chefs, General, Meat, Restaurants, Seafood

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19 comments

  1. 1

    I’ve never been to Alexander’s, but now I want to go! Everything looks like a work of art! And seafood for me and meat for hubby would be perfect! I’ll keep it in mind for a special occasion…

  2. 2

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  3. 3

    I love Alexander’s in Cupertino. Other than the steak (of course), I love the truffled fries. Wonder if they mind me dropping in for fries and a cotton candy chaser!

  4. 4

    Those hamachi shots look so good….and I wonder if those truffle fries were as good as Bourbon’s duck fat fries? ;)

  5. 5

    Crazy day today and needed a break. I knew if I checked in, there would be something fabulous to distract me for a while. I must add Alexander’s to my list of places to eat next month during my trip up north. Thank you for sharing all of the beautiful photos!! This was much better than a coffee break. I am now craving a hamachi shot, but otherwise I feel very relaxed!

  6. 6

    “Meat Boy” must be in heaven! You’ve been reviewing a lot of steakhouses lately… and Alexander’s looks to be the best of all. Very creative and playful. Ciao!!!

  7. 7

    Moe read my mind! That’s definitely what I’d call a balanced diet. In the one hand, fries — in the other hand, cotton candy. Heaven!

  8. 8

    Hehe I did the calculation on the 24oz steak and that is massive! :o he must have been a very happy meat boy! And fairy floss? What a gorgeous touch!

  9. 9

    Absolutely fabulous photos! That first one was the best!
    But a 24 ounce steak?? Wow! That’s a biggie.
    I’ve seen a couple other restaurants serving cotton candy for dessert…lots of sugar, but at least not filling!

  10. 10

    Those are some really gorgeous dishes! And I agree, ending the meal on a sweet note is absolutely perfect!

  11. 11

    Every course looks so good… I love how creative the dessert is. I’m glad you had such a great time!

  12. 12

    I wish it was open when I was in San Francisco last year. Love everything about it, the shots, the kimchi in everything and of course the fries dipped in more potatoes. Need to try it soon, seems like a potato fans dream. As for other dishes they will be hard to replicate at home… WOW

  13. 13

    Wow it alls sounds amazing, but I confess to staring at the cotton candy. But you did mention truffle fries – who needs anything else?

  14. 14

    Wow, this place sure looks awesome…all the food looks so well presented and so tasty. too bad we live so far from it :-)

  15. 15

    I love cotton candy! And steak, too, of course. I’m curious whether Meat Boy was able to eat the entire steak (that’s a lotta steak) ;)

  16. 16

    Carrie: Even Meat Boy couldn’t finish the entire steak. He took part of it home for lunch the next day. He did, however, devour all of the fries. Well, he had a little help… ;)

  17. 17

    We were scheduled to go to Alexanders in Cupertino for my best friend’s birthday and it got postponed due to a conflict for her daughter. I’m still waiting for us to reschedule…the photos are so enticing.

  18. 18

    Love love love this restaurant. Wish I had more clients to entertain so the office can pick up the tab…

  19. 19

    […] More Meaty Places: Alexander’s Steakhouse […]

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