If there was ever a restaurant group in the Valley that has the art of hospitality down, it is the one owned by Christian Corben and Paul Carroll. They’re the duo behind Casita and Taisho, Sherman Oaks eateries that always draw a vibrant crowd. Just a few blocks west on Ventura Boulevard lies their latest endeavor: BLVD Steak. And like their other restaurants, it’s not just about food and drink.
You feel the vibe at BLVD Steak from the moment you walk through the front door. After a warm welcome from a smiling hostess, and after your eyes adjust to the dim, moody lighting, a gorgeous square-shaped bar appears in your line of vision. With 35 seats and attractive illumination, the anticipation sets in; you are hungry for the show to begin. It was a Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when we visited, and both the main dining room and the back room, called “the patio,” were packed. (That room was once a patio that some might remember back when the site housed Stanley’s).
Decor is a major factor in that vibe. Large inviting booths, upholstered in a plush forest-green fabric, line the walls in both dining spaces, while tables fill out the rest of the handsome space. Combined, the two rooms can seat 200 people. But with dark hues and warm lighting, the space feels intimate and convivial. The patio, where we dined, has high coffered ceilings, and the trim encasing the booths is painted black, creating an art deco vibe. The roof retracts for open-air dining. (In no way do you feel like you are relegated to a secondary space.) Off the main dining room: a sophisticated space filled with wine that can be reserved for private dining.
Let’s get to the food—most importantly, the meat. In addition to the standard steak house offerings, diners can opt for dry-aged and Wagyu cuts. À la carte sauces, butters and toppings like a “blue cheese crust” and crab Oscar add interest for those looking for something a little different. Other noteworthy deviations include such starters as crab cakes, Wagyu meatballs and lobster skewers. We really enjoyed beginning our meal with the sauteed shrimp with creole butter—butterflied, silky white flesh cooked to perfection. They were plump and sweet with the fresh taste of the sea. Chef Adam Titze’s sauce is brilliant. The rich and delicious creole butter has a clean, balanced finish thanks to a splash of vermouth. From the raw bar menu, we noshed on the beluga caviar, which was served on “smoking” dry ice. With a presentation meant to dazzle, you couldn’t help but smile (and, for some, Instagram).
There are lots of non-steak main dish options including branzino, salmon, an Iberico pork chop, even spaghetti and meatballs—Wagyu style, of course.
As for sides, the standout was the tower of onion rings. I haven’t had tempura that perfect since eating my way through Tokyo; not too greasy, and the sweet onions were floating in a crispy cloak of fried perfection.
The wine list includes mostly California reds, although there are a few “super Tuscans” (wines from Italy made with bordeaux grapes). The whites are a bit more wide-ranging, encompassing California, Europe and New Zealand.
In between courses, you are at a show. The servers glide by delivering shakers full of martinis and carrying oversized pepper grinders that look like the pillars of a spice temple. As we enjoyed dessert (a decadent butter cake), I couldn’t help thinking: the Valley is lucky to have this incredible team vending memorable experiences. Eating out isn’t just about the food. It is about the way you feel. It is the stage that is set to allow the people you enjoy being at a table with to share stories, laughter and an onion ring that will make you close your eyes and take pause.
Yeah, you heard us right.