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Jan 10, 2008 05:31 PM

Best Bet for Money: De Vito's, Bourbon Steak, Kobe Club?

What place do you think would offer the best what I call value for flavor? I'm thinking of doing a splurge among one of these these three and would appreciate any comments or recs you may have.
If you haven't been to all three (which probably is most people) don't worry and just share what your chowhounding instincts smell.

TY in advance for help!

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  1. Bourbon
    Kobe club

    *pure instinct

    7 Replies
    1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

      Let's think of who's behind each place:

      Bourbon Steak = Michael Mina, whose reputation is built on an excellent dining experience

      Kobe Club = China Grill Mgmt which shoots for upscale dining for the masses

      Devito's = some guys from Boca + Danny Devito

      Bourbon wins.

      1. re: eatnbmerry

        Alright guys, let's stay on task. Duck fat fries, trio of mashed potatoes, American Kobe burger, Sonoma chicken with truffled mac and cheese, roasted marrow bones. Why have I not gone here yet?!

        One thing that I don't see on the menu, and I'm not sure if they even serve it at Bourbon Steak, is the Cable Car cocktail from Nobhill. Girly as anything but so freaking good!

        1. re: tpigeon


          the wine list is up.
          Frod the MELVILLE ESTATE, santa rita hills 2006 is $69. What's that retail for $28? could be worse

          PATZ & HALL, sonoma coast 2006 is $84. I think that retails for $37.
          Tandem Pinot Noir Van der Kamp Vineyard 2004 is $97 retails for $48
          HITCHING POST 'BIEN NACIDO', santa maria valley 2005 $72 retails $39 I think

          1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

            When I heard "Michael Mina steakhouse," I thought "Oy, yet another." But looking at that menu got the juices flowing anyway - I'm definitely intrigued.

            Cool thing about that wine list on the website is that it's apparently updated in real time.

            The Melville Estate Pinot is $26 from the winery = 2.65x retail.

            The Patz & Hall is $42 from the winery but available for as low as $35 from online retailers. Call it $37 = 2.27x

            Some others:
            Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel - $74 / ~$35-40 retail
            Chave "Mon Coeur" Cote du Rhone - $42 / ~$16-20 retail
            Palacios Petalos Bierzo - $54 / ~$25-30 retail
            Tikal Amorio Malbec - $67 / ~$30 retail

            Overall seem like some pretty fair markups. However, not much of an effort to supply many choices under $50 - though I guess they're not really looking for the bargain-hunter market anyway.

            1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

              Sounds on par for the industry but still lower then the wine list prices in South Beach

            2. re: eatnbmerry

              Btw, to save you the trouble of searching, I ate at Devitos once, and I found it the most overpriced meal I ever had, anywhere (and I had quite a few). Which is exactly the opposite of what you are looking for in your original post. In my opinion, it makes Casa Tua look like a bargain.

              Oh yeah, btw peter lugers is awesome, that being said, I like my steak rare, I have heard that they sometimes overcook non rare steaks there, which have adversley affected others experiences there, just thowing that tidbit out just in case it sticks :).

            3. Bourbon Steak's prices are absurd in my opinion. That and they dont have a bourbon menu which is a big disappointment for me. If you have "bourbon" in your restaurant name, I expect to see a bourbon list dammit!! All things being equal, I guess you could argue that DeVito's prices are probably even more absurd and the food is not backed by the name of a well known chef. I dont have any info on Kobe Club, but I suspect the prices there are absurd as well just because they have "Kobe" in their name... I guess the safe bet is Bourbon Steak?

              29 Replies
                1. re: Blind Mind

                  I don't see how Bourbon Steak's prices are any more or less absurd than the others. All have apps running in high teens other than luxe items like lobster or foie gras. F'rinstance - BS tuna tartare poppers ($18); KC tuna tartare ($19); DV tonno crudo ($16).


                  BS 8oz "American Kobe" "eye" of ribeye ($64)
                  DV 8oz American Wagyu boneless ribeye ($59)
                  KC 10oz American Wagyu ribeye ($90)

                  BS Japanese A5 kobe 6oz ribeye - $170 ($28/oz)
                  DV Japanese A5 kobe ribeye - $25/oz
                  KC Japanese wagyu 10oz ribeye (quality not specified) - $240 ($24/oz)

                  Used ribeye because it's the cut they all have in American wagyu and Japanese kobe. Incidentally, as a matter of terminology I'm surprised by Bourbon Steak's use of "American Kobe." My understanding is that's a misnomer - Kobe beef must actually come from Japan, what comes from US or elsewhere may be "Kobe-style" or more properly "wagyu". Sort of like calling an American bubbly a "Champagne."

                  Link to Kobe Club ->

                  Don't know if I'd call any of them a safe bet, though Bourbon Steak is probably the first one I'll visit.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    I was wondering about the use of "Kobe" in BS's menu as well. I thought the correct term was wagyu.

                    BTW, and this a tangent starting, I noticed that Michael Mina opened not only a Bourbon Steak at the Detroit property, but also a seafood restaurant called Saltwater. How come Michigan gets a seafood restaurant and we get only a steakhouse!? And when I looked at the menu what's the first entree I noticed? Pompano. And where does pompano come from? Not Lake Michigan! Another example of either the stupidity or ignorance of restauranteurs refusing to open seafood places in South Florida. I still can't understand why!?

                    1. re: lax2mia

                      *How come Michigan gets a seafood restaurant and we get only a steakhouse!?*

                      Because Detroit has a casino - need multiple restaurants with different themes. Mina has NobHill and SeaBlue in the MGM Grand Vegas as well. It's not like the fish is coming out of Lake Las Vegas either. Mina probably has a deal w/ MGM Grand. He's presumably got one with Fairmont too (which is why the place here is in the Turnberry).

                      *And where does pompano come from?*

                      Ironically enough, probably from Florida.

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        You mean there's hope that Charlie Trotter will hook up with the Seminoles?

                    2. re: Frodnesor

                      At the end of the day, l2m's logic above holds weight and in a trio of overpriced restaurants Bsteak is definitely appearing to the be the lesser of two(three) evils.

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        Fro, all of these places have prices that are completely absurd. I mean, I thought places like Nobu and Prime 112 really pushed the limit in terms of cost/value. These new places are clearly pushing the bar up a few notches and really testing to see how foolish consumers can really be.

                        1. re: Blind Mind

                          Quite honestly, I prefer to drop it at Nobu.

                          I did want to give one of these three a try and not being wealthy (in money not spirit TG) I don't expect to become a regular at any of them. And while Nobu has always been a top pick for me, your Matsuri will definitely keep as you put it "my chi glowing" for the foreseeable future.

                          1. re: Blind Mind

                            Kobe and wagyu beef is expensive everywhere.

                            1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

                              No argument here. But somehow I thought with the US's cheap illegal labor pool that the massaging would be cheaper and bring down the prices. Guess Not!

                            2. re: Blind Mind

                              They are dealing with costly product - prime beef, wagyu, kobe, lobster, foie, etc. are all very expensive and from what I hear the margins are actually surprisingly slim.

                              If you buy American wagyu ribeye from Allen Bros. you'll pay around $50 for an 8oz steak (and get to cook it yourself and serve it on your own fine china).

                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                Please dont include lobster in that mix... You can get Maine lobster for $20-$30 at most restaurants and its always the same. Plus, that is one thing where Id much rather do it at home or on the beach.

                                As for kobe/wagyu, I understand that it costs more to purchase for the restaurant, but I dont think it should be so damn expensive at that point in the food chain let alone the costs at the restaurant. Ive had kobe filets before and while they are really tasty, it just doesnt do enough for me to pay $190 for a 6-8oz filet that doesnt taste 5-6x better than the filet I get for $30-50. Im no pauper, but morally I just cant bring myself to pay that much for a goddamn meal.

                                The funny thing is that these places seem to stay open while places that offer good-great food seem to phase out or close down...

                                1. re: Blind Mind

                                  Nobody's saying you have to buy kobe beef - just that it is in fact pretty expensive to procure.

                                  And if I have a choice between an "oven-broiled rock lobster tail" at Red Lobster for $30 or a "butter-poached lobster tail" at Mina's place for $26 (as an "accompaniment" to my steak), that ain't bad neither.


                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    Frod linking Red Lobster is a classic regardless of the reason.

                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      I too was thinking of a comeback for the $30 lobster comment but then my beer almost came out of my nose when I saw Frod's link. It belongs in the Chowhound hall of fame.

                                      Seriously, I don't find prices at Bourbon Steak all that outrageous. The caveat is that I'm basing my expectation of Bourbon Steak on my experiences at other Michael Mina restaurants. Service, presentation...everything is impeccable. Order the kobe, wagyu, whatever you like, I agree the prices for those items may be high, but they're high everywhere; however, unlike say Prime 112, I can almost assure you that at Bourbon Steak you won't be made to wait 1 hour even with a reservation and then have to jockey with your dining mate for room on the tiny tables once you've sat down.

                                      And the butter poached lobster is insanely good.

                                      1. re: lax2mia

                                        Have you generally found service in SFla to be equal to other cities you know, such as LA lets say?

                                        1. re: eatnbmerry

                                          I live in sobe and we are by far the kings of inefficiency. Everywhere I ate in LA has far superior service to most places I have eaten in Miami, especially Sobe.

                                          1. re: tpigeon

                                            Thanks TP,

                                            Thats been my experience as well. And I agree with l2m that heightened and professional service is part of what you pay for but maybe not part of equation when you get down here sadly enough. Lets hope this place is an exception.

                                            1. re: eatnbmerry

                                              If every restaurant in Miami had bad service I'd agree, but they don't so I won't. Yes, it's a generalization, and a true one, that service here isn't that great. But it's entirely possible, and in fact integral to Bourbon Steak's success, that the service be top notch. I have a feeling it will be.

                                              1. re: lax2mia

                                                I think it is much more likely that Burbon steak will have good service because of its location. If it was down in sobe I would not be optimistic about service at all.

                            3. re: Blind Mind

                              BM, check out the second page of the dessert menu for a bourbon, scotch, and blends. It is a solid 2 or 3 pages long with a nice selection.

                              1. re: mikek

                                Great find mikek! Impressive list but fairly overpriced. I have (or have had) many of these bottles on my bar. Here is my brief take on each...

                                a.h. hirsch reserve 16yr 60 (never sampled)
                                ancient age 11 (never sampled)
                                baker’s 14 (approx $30/bottle - largely overpriced - this one surprised me as a nice little bourbon)
                                basil hayden’s 13 (approx $42/bottle - somewhat overpriced but less of a ripoff than Bakers because of its quality - this is my everyday go-to bourbon - very smooth, nice taste)
                                blanton’s 18 (approx $47-50/bottle - somewhat overpriced - a good bourbon with a nice spice to it and a nice kick - cool bottle and cork collection)
                                booker’s 18 (approx $50-57/bottle - somewhat overpriced - this bourbon is an ass kicker at 124.8 proof - nice spice with a major kick)
                                bulleit 12 (sampled in KY before but dont know prices on bottles, etc. - wasnt impressed)
                                eagle rare 10yr 16 (approx $28-30/bottle - largely overpriced - very smooth bourbon with a light spice to it - this bourbon is a great find and value! - they also make a 17yr which I could see paying $16 for - gorgeous bottle too)
                                elijah craig 18yr 15 (never sampled)
                                evan williams single barrel 12 (not sure on the bottle price but I sampled a few times and think this is a bottom shelf bourbon and shouldnt be more than $7-8/glass)
                                heaven hill 11 (never sampled)
                                jim beam 11 (approx $25-30/bottle - insanely overpriced - this stuff is the bottom of the barrel in my book)
                                knob creek 13 (approx $30-40/bottle - largely overpriced - this is another little ass kicker of a bourbon at 100 proof - spicy with a nice kick - I wouldnt pay more than $8 for this one)
                                maker’s mark 12 - (approx $40/bottle - somewhat overpriced - another great everyday bourbon - sweet caramel with a nice spice but not as smooth as some of the others in this tier - great ambassador program which I am a part of as this is where my love of bourbon began - look for the red wax dipped bottle)
                                old forester bonded 12 (not sure on bottle price but Id say about same as Makers - sampled a few times at $8/glass and wasnt a huge fan but not bad overall)
                                old grand-dad bonded 12 (never sampled)
                                pappy van winkle’s family reserve 23yr 85 (approx $250-400/bottle and if you find one at $250 BUY BUY BUY!!! - this is the prize of my collection and the #1 overall rated bourbon in the world - exceptionally smooth with a great spice and flavor - this is one to be had neat or with 1 ice cube with the pour no greater than the width of your index finger when it points to the bottom of the glass - I first sampled at Gallaghers Steakhouse in Tampa at $40/glass so Id have to say that $85 is insanely overpriced - bottle comes with a cool black velvet bag - 20yr comes with a red velvet bag and goes for about $75-85/bottle and is rated #2 overall)
                                van winkle special reserve 12yr 17(never sampled but I imagine its a great bourbon as this is a great producer)
                                wild turkey 101 11 (Come on, youve got to be kidding me... Even lower than Jim Beam and at $11 is a total joke)
                                woodford reserve 13 (approx $40/bottle - somewhat overpriced - this is another everyday bourbon for me - bars dont typically stock Basil Hayden, so this makes a great backup as it is very smooth with a nice flavor - usually a toss up between Woodford and Makers at most bars who dont stock varieties of bourbon - they also make a high quality limited run bourbon called Woodford Four Grain which is made with four grains as opposed to the standard 3 and is fantastic at $80-90/bottle. Even more fantastic are the limited edition "Masters Collection" which this year consisted of a Four Grain with a Sonoma-Cutrer finish. Basically, the bourbon is distilled in a copper pot and aged in an oak barrel and then finished in a chardonnay barrel which gives an interesting but very subtle hint of the wine.)

                                All that being said, I guess I will have to pony up and check out this place when Im in a good spending mood because they have a lot of bourbons Id love to try and I imagine I could just stay away from the kobe/wagyu to keep the costs in this stratosphere. Unless someone else is buying of course!

                                  1. re: Blind Mind

                                    I have been trying to get my hands on some of the Woodford 4 grain for a little bit now. I have heard good things. The list looks somewhat expensive, but nice to see some of the more rare selections. It is surprising that for a serious of "Bourbon Steak" restaurants, he did not contract with a distillery for a custom blend for the restaurant. But alas, it is a nice collection of good, American bourbons, the official drink of our fine nation may I add.

                                    1. re: mikek

                                      Don't know squat about bourbon (besides episodes on the Travel Channel). Perhaps Bourbon Steak will put on bourbon tastings on slow nights? Maybe a local CH'er can volunteer to lead?

                                      1. re: lax2mia

                                        That would be cool, or a night with a set menu paired with bourbon. I bet the cost to the patron would be high, but it would be different and if they did it right it could be well worth it.

                                        mikek - if you live in the Miami area, there is a distributor called Crown Liquors in South Miami right off of US1 and across the street from a Publix. They have had Woodford 4 Grain a few times and that is where I got the Sonoma Cutrer as well. Prices there arent bad either. I also believe that they had Pappy Van Winkle 20yr, but Im not positive on that.

                              2. re: Blind Mind

                                They actually feature a very nice and elaborate Bourbon and Whiskey menu, attached to their dessert menu. By the way, food is great, presentation matches up, and service rocks!

                                1. re: Blind Mind

                                  They do not prepare a "bourbon steak" per se but have the best selection of bourbon, scotch and other brown spirits, not to mention an inpressive wine list.

                                2. i think boubon is the best choice, there cooking method is flawless, and they have the best menu by far. beef is expensive these days. bourbon is the only one who offers all natural kobe, and prime beef. michael mina is the man.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: chefsap

                                    Actually all of Bourbon Steak, DeVito and Kobe Club offer Japanese A5 kobe beef (and various other American and/or Australian "wagyu" beef), and Kobe Club also has American prime beef. DeVito has what it describes as "all natural "DSB" beef" which it says is often above prime grade in quality.

                                    So while I don't question your preference for Bourbon Steak, I don't think it can be based on the type of beef they offer.

                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      Prime is prime-it is the highest USDA grade. To claim that something is "above prime" is subjective and often misleading. A5, etc., are not official designations in the US, and are for the most part meaningless, as there is no objective body 'grading' these pieces of beef. Funny, you never see A4.

                                      1. re: Miami Danny

                                        I agree DeVito's description is meaningless and I haven't been able to figure out what "DSB" is (could stand for "DeVito ... Some Bullshit" for all I know). But there is indeed a Japan Meat Grading Association that grades Japanese Kobe beef from A1 (lowest) to A5 (highest). Though it is not a US governmentally "blessed" designation like the USDA designations, it's seems to be recognized to be a much more detailed determiner of meat quality than the USDA designations (which focus exclusively on marbling and even then drop off at a level of marbling much lesser than what the Japanese standards evaluate).

                                        Just guessing, but I suspect the reason you don't see much Japanese Kobe other than grade A5 here is that the lower grades are probably still nearly as expensive as the A5, and anyone paying that much for a slab of meat is likely going to insist on having "the best."

                                        Here's an easy reader on the Japanese Meat Grading Association

                                        1. re: Frodnesor

                                          My point was that there is no way of knowing whether or not your A5 is really any better than any other grade, unless you feel you can put your trust in the JMGA. With so much being written and said about 'kobe' that seems to be either untrue or speculative, especially out of Japan, I simply can not.
                                          My point about A5 was that there would seem to be some A4, A3, etc. floating around as well as A5, yet there doesn't seem to be-making me suspicious of the objectivity of JMGA's rating system.

                                          1. re: Miami Danny

                                            I tried Kobe Club for the first time for dinner the other day with colleagues from work. The service was good and the food was better than I anticipated.

                                            We started with a kobe beef hot dog amuse. It reminded me of the hot dogs that were served back in the day during cocktail hour at bar mitzvahs. It was delectable and generously smeared with relish. We also had truffled popovers. (Greasy, not that truffly).

                                            The entree I had was salmon with lobster dumplings. It was quite good.The dumplings were full of lobster meat and had a great crunch from the thin, fried casing. I also tried my seatmates' entrees, steaks and short ribs, and thought they were all very good.

                                            The short ribs were served with a scallop that was perfectly cooked and the steak was served medium rare.

                                            Dessert was cheescake (I'm not a fan and didn't try it).

                                            All in all, Kobe Club was a good experience. The highlight was certainly the amuse hot dog.

                                  2. The original comment has been removed
                                    1. looking back at when this thread was first posted. now there is no room for debate it is clear that bourbon steak is the clear winner. kobe club is hanging from a thread they have absolutely no buisness, and devito is already for sale