You’d think there was a run on meat the way throngs are packing their way into LB Steak in downtown Menlo Park.
On a recent Saturday night, every table was nearly taken by 6:30 p.m., filled by retirees, young couples and families celebrating an occasion.
In the space that once housed the white tablecloth, French-inspired Marche, LB Steak opened in June. It joins its sister restaurant, LB Steak in San Jose’s Santana Row.
Both restaurants feature USDA Prime beef, the highest grade possible. But the menus differ slightly, with the Menlo Park one a bit smaller.
Chef Ryan Ellison, formerly of Oliveto in Oakland and A.P. Stump’s in San Jose, oversees the glass-enclosed exhibition kitchen.
I had a chance to sample some dishes when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.
Large windows flank two sides of the restaurant, allowing in a profusion of natural light on a summer evening.
With bread comes a trifecta of spreads: butter, olive oil and a stonefruit chutney that’s sweet-tart like ketchup.
For a time, Ellison featured an Escoffier-like vegetable terrine on the menu ($10.50) that you rarely see these days outside of a cooking school restaurant. Featuring cucumbers, mushrooms and artichokes, it was beautiful to behold with its varied hues and layers. On a warm night, the chilled terrine was a wonderful way to get your veggie groove on.
The sweetness of seared day boat scallops ($16), which my husband and I shared, was heightened by a corn pudding as smooth as mustard and juicy nectarines. A sprinkle of espelette pepper on the plate let you add as much heat as you preferred.
I guess you won’t be at all surprised if I tell you my husband, aka, Meat Boy, finished his entire 22-ounce Porterhouse ($59) and inhaled the warm gougere that came with it. You get your choice of sauce. His pick was the LB steak sauce, which added even more savoriness to the already juicy, flavorful beef.
My double-cut Kurobuta pork chop was enormous ($34). So much so that I ended up taking half of it home. The thick chop, rubbed with coriander, was still as succulent the second day as it was the first. Pork loves fruit, and caramelized summer peaches were deliriously good.
For sides, there were thick-cut fries ($4) that had a wonderful custardy center. If only the exteriors were a tad crisper. A dish of vibrant fresh corn kernels and sugar snap peas ($5) was a nice, light contrast to all the meat madness.
For dessert, we shared the Alba Farms strawberry shortcake ($8) with strawberry-creamsicle ice cream. With shortcake, there are two camps: the crumbly, sturdy biscuit-like version and the airy, tender cake-like one. This was the latter — a soft sponge that just soaked up all those sweet berry juices. I’m normally more a fan of the former, but this was a fine rendition with ripe berries nicely red through and through.
Meat Boy satisfied his carnivore craving. And I got my cake and ate it, too.
Mission accomplished all around.