While I have eaten at many local restaurants over the last year, sharing my experiences for this column, I have yet to write about a steakhouse restaurant. I have always been disappointed in overpaying for mediocre steaks and matching service. With all the hype surrounding the newly opened Mastro’s Steakhouse on El Paseo, I decided to give it a shot. Perhaps my expectations were low, but Mastro’s makes every other steakhouse look like a run-down coffee shop. It was truly a dining experience that cannot be outdone in our valley.
I have worked at a few steakhouses in this valley and I have never been impressed with the whole scene. Often the service is robotic and impersonal and the food is just okay. When my good friend and I entered the foyer to see a welcoming crew greeting us with genuine smiles, I knew this would be a great evening. We were seated in one of three dining rooms that all surround a majestic bar that boasts live music. Fine wines are stored throughout the restaurant, adding an artistic element to the décor. Our server, Noe, was impressive, knowledgeable and attentive. We did not have to pour our wine, nor ask for anything as he anticipated each of our needs from appetizer to dessert. The staff is dressed to impress, sporting white coats and ties and they glide through the dining room together like a ballet, each confident and aware of his or her role in the restaurant.
We began with a couple favorites: Oysters Rockefeller and Lump Crab Stuffed Mushrooms. Too often, oysters can become chewy when overcooked but these were still quite tender and enjoyable. The mushrooms were topped with large chunks of lump crab meat and were incredible. Before the main course, we shared a salad of heirloom tomatoes and creamy buratta mozzarella cheese. It was perfect for sharing. We selected a red wine from a very large, impressive selection of wines. It would pair well with our steaks. We watched in awe as a neighboring table of guests received a tower of seafood, seemingly smoking from the dry ice as it traveled to their table. Presentations are impeccable!
For entrees, I enjoyed a very tender 12 ounce Bone-In Filet Mignon while my friend ordered the Veal Chop. Both were cooked perfectly and lightly seasoned, but be careful, those plates come out of the kitchen at approximately 400 degrees! Hot enough to melt the napkins! The Filet was so tender that the bone fell off on its own. Side dishes are intended for sharing and some are larger than others. The scalloped potatoes could satisfy a group of four let alone the two of us. The sautéed asparagus was flavorful and cooked a perfect al dente. Overall, this was a superb meal that will not soon be forgotten.
Perhaps the best part of the meal, we shared the Signature Butter Cake with a scoop of ice cream. This dessert was delicate, sweet and of course, buttery! Served with a separate plate of homemade whipped cream for garnish, I think I got a cavity just looking at it! It is truly a “must have” when visiting Mastro’s.
There is only one steakhouse in this valley worth visiting and it is at the corner of Lupine and El Paseo in Palm Desert. Dinner begins nightly at 4pm and the lounge opens at 3pm. While this restaurant is large, offering seating for over 300 people, reservations are preferred. Visit their website and book a reservation at www.mastrosrestaurants.com or call 760-776-6777