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Ramen and Pastrami Lunch in Alexander’s Steakhouse Lounge (Cupertino)

When I first learned via Stett Holbrook ( http://twitter.com/svdining/status/13... ) that Alexander’s Steakhouse was serving ramen for lunch, I couldn’t help but grin. This was the kind of sly, sort of smug smile that comes from sharing a secret or being part of an inside joke because I know how much Chef Stout and J. C. Chen love noodles of every kind. Stout inherited his Japanese mom’s palate and Chen’s dad was a noodle-pulling Shandong chef. Before the restaurant opened five years ago, Chef Stout and his partner, J. C. Chen, hashed out many of their dreams and plans over many bowls of ramen around the South Bay. Then I’d get an email letting me know whether they agreed or disagreed with my opinion/ranking of that ramen shop. Maybe that helps answer the question posed by Tripeler in the earlier thread.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7088...

Driving down to Cupertino to give Alexander’s ramen a whirl, I thought back to those days trying to recall their favorites. I was trying to anticipate what style they’d offer in their own restaurant.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

Lunch is served in the casual Alexander’s lounge Tuesday through Friday. The bound menu presented with flourish was a reminder that I was a guest in a fancy steakhouse. It was hard to not be distracted by the mouthwatering descriptions of piled-high sandwiches in this temple of meat, but I was here for the ramen. The beverage side offers fancy cocktails, as well as non-alcoholic beverages and a variety of teas.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

Pot of flowering jewel tea, $10
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

I've also had the housemade lemonade, $5, and the non-alcoholic fruit cocktail drink, $8: fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, orgeat, apple cider.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

Ramen choices range from $10 to $12 with three broth flavor options: Alexander’s (cloudy and rich), Miso, or Aka Butter (spicy). My server explained that the miso and spicy broths were variations of the Alexander’s base.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

I decided to pair the Angus beef shortrib topping with Alexander's cloudy and rich stock ramen, $10. My prediction that the ramen would be robust, concentrated and heavy came to life in this bowl. The Alexander’s broth was cloudy with emulsified fat and collagen, meaty rich, and gravy-thick. A huge portion, this was one of the few times I haven’t polished off all the noodles. Jam-packed into the bowl, probably not twirled in the stock to loosen, some of the noodles stuck together.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

As one would imagine at a premier steakhouse, the beef short rib topping was fantastic. So succulent, velvety in the mouth and exploding with beefy richness from careful searing and braising of the fatty cut. And not just propped up on the surface, the short rib showing in the photo was only the tip of the meaty iceberg hidden below the soup. The 65-degree egg had a little firmer white than most other sous vide eggs, which I preferred, and the runny yolk spilling into the broth took this over the top. Toasty nori, fresh spinach, fish cake, scallions, and shitake mushrooms completed the bowl.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

My second visit I picked Yaki Ebi (grilled white shrimp) and pork belly chashu topping with miso broth, $12. The large shrimp had great texture and fresh sweetness, but one was overcharred and had some bitter notes. The roasted pork belly was even better than the beef short rib, the best piece of cha shu I’ve come across on a bowl of ramen. Tender, well-seasoned meat striated with sweet firmish fat was punched up even more by the flavor contributed by the well-browned crust and some last-minute grilling.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

The stock was not quite as dense this time, earlier in the lunch service. The miso flavor was rather monotonal. Once again the boatload of noodles were compacted in the bowl and stuck together. A scatter of tenkasu (bits of stray tempura batter) added richness and crunch.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

These were both pretty impressive bowls, mostly for the quality of the meats, and deliver excellent value in the quality-quantity calculus compared to the price level. While the concentrated and deep broth was enjoyable, the palate-coating meatiness turned plodding and dull before too long. More complexity, brightness, or sweet-briny seafood elements would bring it to life. I have not had a chance to try the spicy version and maybe that broth offers the lift I craved. The presentation of the noodles needs work, separating them before cooking and then loosening them in the broth before adding the toppings. And one petty criticism, the knife work on the green onions could be more precise.

Comparing Alexander’s ramen composition with that at Orson in San Francisco, both kitchens turned out excellent toppings made with top-notch ingredients and cooked with great care. Orson’s housemade noodles beat Alexander’s, but Alexander’s broth was in a whole different league and much better crafted. Based on these two examples, Alexander’s Steakhouse enters the ramen ranking at #8.

My third visit here was for a birthday lunch with my mother. I had promised her a big pastrami sandwich. We started with sharing the Caesar salad, $10. This is half of an order.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

I really appreciated that the kitchen split our order. And each half-portion of Caesar was topped with a 65-degree egg. A well-balanced lemony dressing, just the right amount of freshly grated cheese, nice croutons, aromatic snipped chives, and the lovely sous vide egg made for a very nice version of this classic salad.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

Mom was away from the table when our split order of the Reuben was served. When she first saw this at here place, she asked, “What is that?” She didn't recognize it as a pastrami sandwich! And she was even more incredulous that this was just half. Later she wondered whether anyone really eats a whole one by herself. The house-cured pastrami had a good amount of tasty fat. Shaved thin and piled high, the meat was still a little chewy and just a bit too salty for me when tasted alone. But the whole package with the melted cheese, tangy sauerkraut, and dressing was eminently satisfying.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

My half wasn't quite as abundant. But still, I could only eat a few bites and we both packed up our leftovers to take home. The slightly sweet Japanese potato salad was good too.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

Here’s a closer look at the Premium Reuben Sandwich, $14 - Alexander's own pastrami, sauerkraut, gruyere cheese, 1000 island, toasted rye bread. Part of me wanted to hold out for the classic Russian dressing, but the 1000 island with the brunoise of red and yellow sweet peppers, onion and pickles was so well-composed, it won me over.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

Maybe the biggest endorsement for this sandwich is that my discerning and budget-conscious mother asked me to tell my siblings about this place. She wants them to bring her back again.

Service was quite attentive and up to the standards I’d expect for a top dinner house even in the more casual lounge setting. The service and the quality of the food here feel like a splurge. Yet, the lunch tab makes Alexander’s Steakhouse an affordable luxury.

PERSONAL RAMEN RANKING
1. Ramen Halu, 375 Saratoga Ave Ste M, San Jose
2. Santouka @ Mitsuwa Hokkaido Festival, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
3. Himawari, 202 2nd Ave, San Mateo
4. Orenchi Ramen, 3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
5. Maru Ichi, 368 Castro St, Mountain View
6. Izakaya Mai, 212 2nd Avenue, San Mateo
7. Ajisen Noodle, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont
8. Alexander’s Steakhouse Lounge, 10330 N Wolfe Rd, Cupertino
9. Orson Restaurant Bar + Lounge, 508 4th St, San Francisco
10. Ramen Dojo, 805 South B St, San Mateo
11. Ryowa, 859 Villa St, Mountain View
12. Tanto, 1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale
13. Santa, 1944 South El Camino Real, San Mateo (post-move)
14. Do-Henkotsu House of Tokushima Ramen, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose (closed)
15. Sumiya, 2634 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara
16.Gen Ramen, 47890 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont (closed)
17.Hana Japanese Restaurant, 101 Golf Course Dr, Rohnert Park
18.Izakaya Restaurant, 1335 N 1st St, San Jose
19.BY Grill, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
20.Norikonoko, 2556 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
21.Hana, 4320 Moorpark, San Jose
22.Ozumo, 2251 Broadway, Oakland
23.Muracci’s, 244 State St, Los Altos
24.Dohatsuten, 799 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto
25.Katanaya, 430 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
26.Masa's Sushi, 400 San Antonio Road, Mountain View
27.Nombe, 2491 Mission St, San Francisco
28.Gochi, 19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
29.Oyaji, 3123 Clement St, San Francisco
30.Halu Restaurant, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco
31.Sanmi, 3226 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
32.Maru Ichi, 530 Barber Lane, Milpitas
33.Hatcho, 1271 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara
34.Kahoo, 4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose
35.Tomoe, 810 3rd St, San Rafael (closed)
36.Ringer Hut, 1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
37.Noodle Theory, 3242 Scott St, San Francisco
38.Watami Shabu Shabu and Ramen, 5344 Geary Blvd, San Francisco (closed)
38.Where’s Buta by Elgin Espiritu and June Lee, Eat Real Festival, Oakland
39.Kumako, 211 E. Jackson Street, San Jose
41.Japanese Restaurant Hoshi, 246 Saratoga Avenue, Santa Clara
42.Ramen Club, 723 California Dr, Burlingame
43.Ryowa, 2068 University Ave, Berkeley (after ownership change)
44.King Won Ton, 1936 Irving St, San Francisco
45.Tazaki Sushi, 3420 Judah St, San Francisco
46.Ramen Rama, 19774 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino (closed)
47.Ogi-San Ramen, 10789 Blaney Ave, Cupertino (closed)
48.Kaimuki Grill, 104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo (closed)
49.Tanto, 1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
50.Okazu Ya SF (Noriega), 2445 Noriega St, San Francisco
51.King's Garden Ramen, 39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark (closed)
52.Sushi Bistro, 445 Balboa St, San Francisco
53.Genki Ramen, 3944 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
54.Mitsuwa Hokkaido festival booth, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose
55.Lakuni, 325 E 4th Ave, San Mateo
56.100% Healthy Desserts, 1155 Taraval St., San Francisco
57.Mifune, 1737 Post St, San Francisco
58.H2A Noodle, 42318 Fremont Blvd., Fremont (closed)
59.Iroha, 1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco
60.Miraku Noodles, 2131 N Broadway, Walnut Creek
61.Manpuku, 2977 College Ave, Berkeley
62.Tanpopo, 1740 Buchanan Street, San Francisco
63.Sushi Yoshi, 39261 Cedar Blvd, Newark
64.La Shang Niang Ramen (OEC), 42 Dixon Rd, Milpitas
65.Oidon, 71 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo
66.Taraval Okazu Ya, 1735 Taraval St., San Francisco
67.Suzu Noodle House, 1581 Webster Street, San Francisco
68.Bushido Izakaya, 156 Castro St, Mountain View
69.Fresh Taste, 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
70.Asuka Ramen, 883 Bush St, San Francisco
71.Sapporo-ya, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco
72.Tokyo Ramen, 678 Barber Lane, Milpitas (closed)
73.Kamakura, 2549 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda
74.Mama-san!, 312 8th Ave, San Francisco (closed)
75.Katana-ya Ramen, 10546 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito
77.Hotei, 1290 9th Ave, San Francisco
78.Bear's Ramen House, 2521 Durant, Berkeley

Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino defies the recession with sumptuous dishes for well-heeled diners
By Stett Holbrook (May 19, 2010 )
http://www.sanjose.com/alexander-s-st...

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Alexander's Steakhouse
10330 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino, CA 95014

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  1. That looks delicious! Any idea if they will be serving ramen at their SF place? Or maybe too soon to tell.

    2 Replies
    1. re: calalilly

      Ramen is a lunch-only item at the Cupertino restaurant. So, I'd suspect it's not in the cards for San Francisco unless the place is open for lunch.

      I was going to wait to post about the ramen here until I'd tried the spicy broth, as I think it might be a better accompaniment to the toppings, the beef short ribs or filet mignon in particular. But I decided to post these first two now to give City folks some sense of what Alexander's is about. According to the website, SF is slated to open mid-September. And Chef Stout's twitter feed says he started training service staff this week.

      1. Thanks for the review, Melanie! I had no idea that Alexander's is open for lunch now. Ramen and pastrami........"these are a few of my favorite things".

        Will definitely offer it as a choice next time I take some clients in Sunnyvale out for lunch. We've been doing Birk's, but I think I'll steer them here instead.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Eugene Park

          It is odd that the restaurant's website makes no mention of lunch service. So I hope it sticks! Looking at the photos in the site gallery, the promoted dishes from the dinner menu are mostly in the tweezer cuisine, elaborate and fanciful presentation of micro ingredients, not what one would expect of a "steakhouse". Very different for from the lunch time heartiness.

        2. I'm a bit shocked at the prices. I would expect Alexander's to charge much higher prices, even for lunch in their lounge. I guess that's good news for us! I'm now curious about their $28 half-pound A5 Kobe burger on the menu.

          1 Reply
          1. re: vincentlo

            Please give in to your curiosity! I want to live that burger vicariously through you.

            I'm surprised at the prices too. Yet, the beverage list is priced pretty high, so i guess that's where they're making the profit.

          2. Thanks for the report Melanie.

            Slowly, the Japanese hegemony on good ramen is crumbling.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Cary

              Chef Stout is hapa, so maybe not as big of a chipping away as you think. The one thing the broth lacked was the briny, salty taste of the sea that i associate with Japanese stocks.

              Edited to add: For the shy 'hound who asked by email, here's the wiki on "hapa".
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hapa

            2. Thanx for the report, Melanie. My husband and I tried the lunch menu on Friday and i was impressed. I had the pork belly ramen with the house broth and my husband went for the Rueben with a cup of squash soup. The ramen was fine and the pork belly was abundant, tho I am getting a bit bored with pork belly itself. My only problem was the size. It was huge and even on a cool summer day I felt bloated and needed a nap. They could size it down about a third and it would be a lovely lunch. It is hard to take noodles home in a doggie bag. The same could be said for the Reuben but half of it made it home for leftovers. The squash soup screamed of October and seemed out of season but was tasty. Hope the service lasts thru colder weather when a hot bowl of ramen will really hit the spot.

              1 Reply
              1. re: budnball

                Thanks for checking in. The ramen serving size is the biggest bowl I've ever been served (since I never order a "large" at the places that have them). Usually I leave some soup behind, but rarely noodles, but there was no way I could finish a bowl here.

                With the surcharges for add-ons at the various ramen houses, the tab for a bowl can quickly get up to $10 to $12. Comparing those with what you can get here at Alexander's in a much nicer setting, the value is readily apparent.

              2. I tried the new Alexander's lunch about a month ago. Some context that needs to be added here: Alexander's original lunch service used the main (huge) steakhouse dining area, but stopped because (I gather from the server's comments) it was too expensive to open the whole restaurant for lunch. I enjoyed the hamburger and French-dip sandwich in the earlier days; that sandwich also was overstuffed, even half might be a lot for one diner. (Then, and again now with the large ramen portion, I've caught indications from the servers that sending no diner away still hungry is sort of a theme at Alexander's.)

                After a couple of years without lunches, the new service opened a few months ago in a dedicated annex far to the left of the main entrance. Diners familiar with Alexander's but not this new annex should not try the main entrance for lunch (as I did). The new lunch space has windows around and more light than the main steakhouse. With the windows and the bar counter down one side, its layout imparted a slight "diner" impression visually.

                From the lunch menu that day, "Yaki-Ebi" ramen bowl with the works ($13) included pork belly and the grilled shrimp and lots of Other Stuff. I found it delicious, the broth hearty as expected at a place like Alexander's. My noodles were excellent and not stuck together. It was also huge. It may be the first time I've walked away from a restaurant ramen with a good deal of broth still in the bowl.

                Something else, worth mention in itself for any Burgundy or Pinot-Noir fans. The bar offered, by the glass ($20) a Prince de Merode Aloxe-Corton AC from a fairly recent vintage but drinking like red velvet, full of minerals and fruit. I've bought superb red Burgs from this esteemed producer in past years. After a sample offered by the shrewd barkeep who sensed my weakness (but also demonstrated thereby that the bottle was neither corked nor oxidized), I couldn't resist starting lunch with a glass, though it magnified the bill. Then after the vast ramen, a cup of black coffee (which was not bad) finished things well. I also checked the full dinner-time wine menu and saw again the insightful, eclectic selection Alexander's has maintained for years. All price ranges. Some connoisseurs' items that aren't necessarily expensive, which the wine staff will gladly point out, as well as flashy labels customarily demanded by diners more ostentatious and less wine-wise. Above all a willingness to offer wines because they work with the food, whether or not they're fashionable or fit clichés. (Mineraled tart European-style Rieslings with beef, for example, a glorious pairing and sort of a wine geeks' secret for years, is starting to become mainstream, but Alexander's has offered it since opening.)

                Melanie mentioned the confusing Web site. That too (unfortunately) is something of an Alexander's tradition. In past years I sometimes found basic information missing (after waiting through tedious graphics to get there). More recently it had some kind of graphic (i.e. clever download) that demanded relaxing standard browser security in order to read -- which I've scarcely ever seen in a business Web site. It has been cited as an ineffective example of the genre.

                2 Replies
                1. re: eatzalot

                  Thanx for reminding me. You are correct that the entrance is a bit confusing. and we wandered around the main room until we found someone to direct us to the annex area. A sign would help, since customers are familiar with only one entrance. I am going back this week!

                  1. re: budnball

                    Here's what the entrance to the lounge looks like.
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                    I was somewhat bewildered my first visit too, as the main entrance seemed so deserted. Here's the sign pointing the way that's outside the main door.
                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                2. I went to the Lounge at Alexander's Steakhouse for lunch about 10 days ago and ordered the short rib ramen in Alexander's broth. The briny broth seemed to be inspired by or made of beef bouillon. If I had to guess the noodles were homemade pasta, colored yellow to resemble kansui ramen noodles. I have to give this dish an A+ for novelty/originality. In terms of taste, it was godawful, except for the eponymous short rib and other toppings.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: Dave.Pitinga

                    We are going to Alexander's (Cupertino) for dinner tomorrow evening to celebrate my husband's birthday. He is a die-hard steak/prime rib/meat and potatoes kind of guy; me not so much; yet I don't want to settle for a piece of broiled dover sole or a salmon filet as I am relegated to do when we go to places like Lawry's in Los Angeles. What do you recommend as an alternative to steak? Usually I end up ordering a bunch of appetizers and cobble together something interesting for myself (I'm not a vegetarian by any means). Thanks all for your input. Boy, I wish they had that ramen for dinner - or that pastrami sandwich - I'm the one still searching for the Jewish deli -- any Jewish deli -- between San Jose and Berkeley.

                    1. re: Bria Silbert

                      I actually think they do a very good job with their non-steak dishes. I had a wonderful bass dish at the cupertino branch a few years back that was finished by our table before we remembered to pull out a camera to take a snap of it.

                      1. re: Bria Silbert

                        To me, Alexander's Steakhouse feels more like a fusion Steakhouse rather than a traditional American one like Lawry's.

                        While you can definitely cobble something together from appetizers, they also have a pretty good selection of entrees as well. I've only been there twice, and the first time I had the omakase tasting menu (which was a feast of delicious and delectable dishes - Photos and writeup: http://www.mikehuang.com/blog/2011/03...

                        )

                        I've really enjoyed their:

                        Hamachi Shooters (raw hamachi served in a shotglass with avocado and cilantro)
                        Black Cod - served on a bed of spinach with some red miso broth.

                        Their appetizers always look good, and though I've only sampled a few of them so far, I want to go back and try out some of the other appetizers -- the Popcorn Crab sounds interesting, as does their foie gras dishes.

                        They also do have Wagyu beef pretty regularly (though I think the price is typically pretty close to $100+ for a 16 oz piece).

                        Be sure to listen to their specials; the last time I was there they had a bluefin toro tartar with caviar, which was wonderful (but pricy at $48).

                        Have you tried The Kitchen Table in Mountain View? It's not really a deli, but my friends have been raving about the pastrami there.

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                        Alexander's Steakhouse
                        10330 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino, CA 95014

                        The Kitchen Table
                        142 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                        1. re: mhuang

                          Wow, I did not know they had an omakase menu - I did know they had a Japanese bent which I know I will appreciate. Thank you - the pictures are making me drool!!!

                          Yeah, I know about the Kitchen Table - but kosher and Jewish deli are not the same thing. And I have heard about the pastrami there.

                          Thanks so much for such a complete answer - I'll let you know what we end up eating!

                          -----
                          The Kitchen Table
                          142 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                          1. re: Bria Silbert

                            One more thing about the omakase though -- in many restaurants, the omakase/tasting menu is a "whole table" selection -- mainly this is due to the pacing of the dishes. I do not remember whether or not Alexander's has a similar policy.

                            Alexander's also has a very nice selection of cheeses. Most of their bread is from Acme, although I believe their parmesan crisp is made in-house.

                            You may want to mention to your server that it is your husband's birthday, if I recall, for another patron at another table, they brought out a small dessert with a candle to celebrate.

                        2. re: Bria Silbert

                          Strongly seconding nice and mhuang's very representative comments. In fact, in a dozen or so visits since the 2005 opening, I or companions have sometimes made whole meals of non-steak items or multiple appetizer or "side" dishes -- small plates of considerable variety and seasonality (I was hooked on a simply dressed multiple-tomato salad -- slices of big ripe tomatoes in shades of orange and red -- which of course was strictly seasonal). There was even a chicken entree boned and rolled around _brie_ or a similar cheese, then roasted and sliced and served with greens I think -- delicious but extremely rich (as some of the side dishes also have been).

                          It is definitely and explicitly a "fusion" steakhouse. I gather another location has opened but I haven't seen it (nice's Cupertino "branch" is the original and for years the only Alexander's).

                          Steakhouses are a very old idea that experienced a US renaissance in recent decades as restaurant-industry (especially nationwide corporate restaurant-industry) experts identified it as an easily marketed concept that can generate high revenues-per-cover, actually higher (I've seen some numbers) than independent high-end restaurants that people often think of as more expensive. This recognition brought many chain and local steakhouses to busy markets especially where spicy or "ethnic" foods are less appreciated. Traveling in the US I've seen high concentrations of them some places (like Palm Springs area). But they didn't "take" so well here in the Bay Area, which except for newer suburbs has relatively very few of them, including venerable longtime independents and some often mediocre chain locations. (The very best steakhouses I've found, and they're often independent, tend to be in Plains states or places associated with cattle processing -- Oklahoma, Colorado, cetainly Chicago). Alexander's is unique though, because of its east-Asian influences which proceeded deliberately and avowedly from its founding chef and manager.

                          Alexander's notorious _web site,_ done by a contractor I gather, has generated more complaints than any other restaurant web site I've ever heard of. (Missing basic information, out of date, yet always ponderous flash-trash graphics slow to load on handheld devices that must finish before even basic information is available -- then sometimes it's not.) Contrasting with the generally alert and service-oriented style of the restaurant's personnel. The site has recently changed, with separate quick-view pages, so this may finally have improved.

                          1. re: eatzalot

                            Eatzalot, how coincidental that you would mention the website. That is what had me baffled. It took so many iterations to get to the actual menu and then it was full screen and I had to scroll around so much to look at each part of the menu that I just gave up. But I know all of you post often and judiciously and expertly, so I am excited to go. Michael, I figured the omakase would have to be for the whole table and I wouldn't do that to Mr. Beef, but there seems to be plenty of room for experimentation. I did mention it was his birthday on Opentable when I made the reservation - which is not today like I said (it's our son's birthday today) but next Friday - so I will report back then. Thanks again for all the advice and tips!

                            1. re: Bria Silbert

                              Almost everyone I talk to about Alexander's grumbles about that Web site's ineffectiveness or counterproductivity for the business. I think it even surfaced on an Open Table forum. And the general topic of restaurant website designers who evidently aspire to be a Picasso or Spielberg, rather than aid the restaurant and its customers, got general buzz online the last year or so, maybe including Chowhound. Especially from people using handheld devices.

                              I forgot to mention (though you'll spot indications upthread here) for anyone who is especially interested in wines, Alexander's has long had a way-above-average wine program, a real wine-geek's list. I haven't been there in a few months, but during its six years open, Alexander's very capable, veteran wine people (I talked to a couple of them after noticing this) sought out not just the expected labels (and expensive trophy wines, displayed but seldom ordered) but more significantly, less-known wines, good values in a range of prices, and cosmopolitan food pairings ahead of the public's general habits. This was an early tip to me that some true gastronomic sensibilities could be found at Alexander's. If you want good tips for pairings or value, seek out the sommelier or wine buyer on duty.

                              1. re: eatzalot

                                Reporting back on Alexander's:

                                A+ on service - professional, attentive, but not obsequious
                                A+ on design - a smart, sleek, clean looking room and even with a table of 18 people seated behind us, we were able to hear each other
                                B+ on food - I think the menu (not the online menu but the actual placement of the dishes on the menu) does not do it service to what tremendous offerings they have.
                                Every time a dish came out, I would crane my neck to try to figure out what they were eating.

                                As for us my husband, Mr. Beef, had the grilled/marinated squid appetizer and the T bone with a trio of salts. What a difference a fantastic cut of meat along with aging makes. It was perfection on a plate and he loved sampling the different salts adding a slight crunch to the bite. The only side dish he ordered were the green beans sauteed with bacon - which were wonderful - almost like Chinese resstaurant wok fried dried green beans.

                                Not being a huge fan of a huge hunk of meat to chew and chew, I really wanted to go the appetizer route but just couldn't decide. I don't think I made the best choice: I had the 'vegetarian meal' (which is written in teeny tiny type under the appetizers) which was a selection of six of their vegetarian appetizers. They serve the first three, which are cold, as the appetizer, and the second three, which are warm, as the entree. It included walnut bread crostini topped with some luxurious burrata cheese, a quinoa salad, and a sous vide artichoke, all with zingy, different sauces, like black garlic vinaigrette, etc. Those three were the appetizers. The entrees included kohlrabi cooked two ways in a fancy sauce, a sunchoke soup, and a potted egg. That last dish was my least favorite even though it was probably the most complicated. It had spinach, and truffled potatoes, and miataki (sp?) mushrooms, and cauliflower puree and a poached egg. Of course, everything was beautifully served and the dishes looked like art on a plate.

                                Biggest complaint for me was that most of the vegetarian dishes tended to be very creamy - I would have liked more textures and levels of heat. Also, I'm not a fan of truffles and their infusion in dishes is very pronounced - and they are not shy with the use of truffles at Alexander's.

                                Biggest pluses? A whole bread basket of different choices (at least five) and not one measly roll they dole out with tongs. They also left the basket on the table the whole meal which I appreciated. Also, it was my husband's birthday and they gave us each a free glass of Proseco, along with a small chocolate mousse like cake for dessert for him with a candle and everything.

                                There was no pressure to order bottled water or fancy wine - my husband had a cocktail and I just had water.

                                Now that we have experienced it for the first time, I know what I want to sample next time - the hamachi shooters, the dessert fondue, and I would cobble together my own assortment of appetizers instead of going with the six they have grouped as a "meal."

                                All in all, we could not have been more pleased and I thank you all for guiding us with your suggestions - it really is much more than just a steakhouse.

                                Just one question:

                                What is it with steakhouses and cotton candy for dessert? I just don't get it!

                                1. re: Bria Silbert

                                  PS - They also proferred an amuse bouche - tempura asparagus in a spicy aioli and a kiwi strawberry granita palate cleanser. Nice touches, if touch old fashioned

                          2. re: Bria Silbert

                            Bria, on the topic of a good jewish-style pastrami sandwich, check out The Kitchen Table in Mtn view. All jewish, all kosher and the best pastrami sammich I've had this side of north Jersey.

                            -----
                            The Kitchen Table
                            142 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                        3. Is Alexander's still serving lunch (ramen) on weekdays?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: slew

                            Yep... at least they were as of 2 weeks ago.

                            1. re: openhelix

                              They were last week, too. slew, be sure to go to the Lounge - the main restaurant will be closed during lunch hours. We arrived at 12:45 when all tables/seats were taken except for two cramped spaces at the bar. By, 1:15 nearly all of the lunch crowd had cleared out.

                              1. re: scarmoza

                                Thanks guys for the info/update! =)