New Dishy Digs for Alexander’s Steakhouse Cupertino
When Alexander’s Steakhouse moved into its brand new building at Main Street Cupertino three weeks ago, there was initially some talk about doing away with the signature cone of cotton candy that ends the meal.
That lasted for a hot second.
Management wisely concluded that eliminating that carnival-like treat for something new and different just wouldn’t do — not when it’s become such a distinguishing flourish for this high-end steakhouse.
That may not have changed. But other things have, most notably the restaurant’s size, which is larger by 2,000 square feet.
While the sommelier had to run around to various cabinets in the old restaurant to retrieve wine bottles, here the wine is stored in a dazzling 7,000-bottle, glassed-in wine vault right in the main dining room.
There’s also a dry-aging room right at the entrance, where huge hunks of deeply white-striated Wagyu beef are on display. And yes, that’s fat that you’re marveling at.
The dining room, done up in dark cocoa leather chairs and cream-colored banquettes, gets a lot of natural light from the wall of windows at the front. It can get loud, though, when the room is full, owing to the high ceilings and hard surfaces.
The waitstaff is decked out in elegant suits. The diners, though, seem to run the gamut — from women in chic dresses to at least one guy in shorts, tank top and flip-flops, if you can believe that.
Executive Chef Jared Montarb, who cooked extensively at various Wolfgang Puck restaurants, oversees a menu that retains its original Asian influences. I had a chance to check out the new digs last week when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.
The amuse that evening were warm, cheesy arancini, rolled in panko and fried till golden crisp, then dolloped with aioli.
The bread service will have you giving up your vow to tread lightly with carbs. Besides slices of bread, there are furikake-speckled croissants, and brioche rolls. Alongside is soft butter inside in a clever ceramic “marrow bone.”
Next comes a gift from the chef, a stunning long glass cylinder that looks like an oversized test tube laid on its side with divots to hold tiny bites. From left to right, there is a cherry-glazed frozen foie gras lollipop that melts in your mouth like an ice cream on a stick; hamachi with pickled peaches and a pop of spiciness; Iberico ham with cantaloupe; a silky smoked salmon with Osetra caviar; a teeny morsel of Wagyu crudo flavored with sweet soy and dashi that is as rich as a pat of butter in your mouth; and King crab with pickled apples and radish sprouts.
My husband didn’t realize the Iberico ham ($19 for half an ounce) would be on that dish, so he ordered his own from the starters. In its full size, though, you really appreciate the sweet, buttery ham alongside ever so creamy, house-made ricotta with the pop of bright-green ginger-mint pearls and fresh curls of melon for bursts of vibrant fruitiness.
The Scallop and Foie Lettuce Cups ($35) are a little hard to eat out of hand because the two main ingredients are stacked atop one another, then garnished with crisp shredded phyllo, making for a rather unwieldy bite. So just be prepared to get your hands messy — or use a knife and fork. Even with a sweet glaze reminiscent of that typically on unagi, as well as a square of seared foie gras on top, the scallop was large enough that its sweetness didn’t get lost in all of that.
My husband’s porterhouse ($75), dry-aged 21 to 28 days, weighed in at a massive 28 ounces. It was cooked medium-rare as requested, leaving it tender and juicy. You can opt for a sauce for your steak. He went with a trio (3 sauces for $9): an intensely flavorful red wine bordelaise, a buttery bearnaise, and the A5 steak sauce (the restaurant’s own tangy-sweet version).
I went the fish route, opting for Alaskan halibut ($45), which was beautifully moist and nicely seared on top. Oregon morels and English peas were perfect seasonal accompaniments. But of course, you have to dial it up a bit, so hiding underneath the fish is a dollop of bacon confit and pickled ramps to give this lean, mild, flaky fish that much more oomph.
The truffled fries ($12) come skinny and crisp in a paper cone with a shower of Parmesan cheese for good measure.
Whatever you do, don’t pass up the uni fried rice ($25). It could be a meal in and of itself, loaded with shiitakes, bacon, the grassiness of shishito peppers, and finally crowned with lobes of uni. It’s amazing — savory, earthy, briny and luxurious. It can easily be split as a side among three or four people. But you’ll be hard pressed to stop at just one spoonful. I still can’t stop thinking about this dish.
After all of that, comes a cheese course served in a large, artsy shiny metal, dimpled board. Each holds a cheese — French sheep’s, a combo blue-English cheddar that’s divine, aged French goat cheese, and black truffle American — along with accompaniments such as fruit preserves or a candied cashew. My husband wished all cheese courses could be like that — modest morsels that allow you to really savor each one, even after a hefty entree.
For dessert, there is a modern, round of Black Forest cake ($15) with dark chocolate ganache, garnished with cherry coulis, torn pistachio sponge cake, and shards of pistachio glass.
For a real showstopper, there is the Monkey Business ($15), a perfect, shiny dulce de leche sphere that almost looks like hand-blown glass ornament. A server pours over warm chocolate fudge sauce, which melts it, revealing banana custard, vanilla ice cream, crunchy peanuts, and a torched banana marshmallow inside. It’s childhood flavors turned upside down into something utterly sophisticated yet still full of whimsy.
Next, a cross-section of log comes out laden with chocolate tiles dotted with coconut, and raspberry-apple pate de fruit. Then comes the piece de resistance. You know it’s coming; you see it being carried reverently into the dining room before it is set down in front of you with aplomb. Yes, the beehive of cotton candy. Pina colada-flavored on this evening. My husband tore away at it, saying after each swipe that he was done, only to continue eating more handfuls until nearly nothing remained but the empty paper cone. Yes, cotton candy will do that to you.
If you have lost all will power at that point, then you might as well head next door to Alexander’s Patisserie on your way out of the steakhouse.
It’s a smaller branch of the main one in downtown Mountain View, where all the baking is still done.
Here, you will find an array of macarons, chocolate sables, chocolate bonbons galore, and individual desserts simply stunning to behold. And at least for now, the patisserie stays open until 11 p.m. nightly.
Resistance is futile.