Object of Desire: Culotte steak
You put on your best suit. You make a reservation at Mastro’s or Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris or the Palm. And you jettison a month’s car payment on a thick, bleeding plank of steer, plus whatever combination of Tanqueray martinis and California Cabernet Sauvignon it takes to get you through the night. It is a modern man’s way of asserting that he is solvent, American and employed, in touch with, though not overwhelmed by, his baser pleasures. (I’m not sure what the vegan equivalent to this may be, although I like to think it includes swaggering into a joint where even the dish soap is cruelty free, then demanding the biggest kohlrabi in the house.)
Taylor’s Prime Steaks, both the original in Koreatown and the newer Taylor’s in La Cañada, is not blinged-out in the manner to which modern carnivores have become accustomed. You will find neither cigar rooms nor A-5 Kobe beef; neither Flinstonian porterhouses nor steaks dry-aged longer than some first-growth Bordeaux. At Taylor’s, you will never even be tempted to bribe a maitre d’ — it’s a Wednesday-night steakhouse, a two-martini place where your parents would have felt comfortable — and may in fact be enjoying right this second, along with half of the USC law school Class of 1962.
What Taylor’s does have is a nice culotte steak, sometimes called a baseball steak or a top-sirloin cap, which as picanha is the most-prized cut of beef in Brazil, but doesn’t get much play in this land of strip steaks, flatirons and ribeyes. Culotte isn’t the tenderest bit of the cow, but it does have an awful lot of flavor, and the way they age it and grill it at Taylor’s brings out the citrus-tart essence of the meat, which is sometimes what you want in a steak instead of melted fat running down your chin. Good steak is never cheap, but at $24.95 Taylor’s culotte steak almost feels like a bargain.
3361 W. 8th St., (213) 382-8449; 901 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge, (626) 790-7668.
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