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Walked Out of Pacific Dining Car & Went to Taylor's

Last night the girlfriend wanted steak. We live in Silverlake and didn't want to go too far afield. Our favorite steak in the general vicinity is Nick & Stef's, but we've been there the last two times we went out for steak so decided to go elsewhere. It had been a long time since either of us had been to the Pacific Dining Car so we decided to go there. Neither of us recalled it as being as good as Nick & Stef's, but both of us recalled it as being good.

We got there, sat down and opened the menus. Holy Shit that place is expensive. More expensive than Nick & Stef's. Steaks are in the range of mid-$40s to high $50s. (Hell, even the simple hamburger steak was $30.) Salads were all $15 or $16. Sides were ludicrous, too. There was a charge for splitting things. The wine list was stupidly overpriced. And none of it, in either of our recollection, is as good as Nick & Stef's.

So, we folded our napkins and fled.

We still wanted steak, and having encountered sticker shock at the Pacific Dining Car we decided to go downmarket rather than simply to the nearby Nick & Stef's. Off we went to Koreatown and Taylor's where we hadn't been in quite some time.

It was fine, fit the bill in both senses. We got a nice table in the bar. The waiter suggested that the special bone-in ribeye was very good and big enough for us to split. It was, not a great steak but a plenty good steak. It came with a baked potato. We ordered another one. We ordered a salad that the waiter happily split for us and some creamed spinach and a couple of glasses of wine and a single malt scotch. And the whole bill, with a generous tip, came to less than it would have almost certainly cost one of us at the Pacific Dining Car.

In the future when I want a great steak I'll go back to Nick & Stef's or some of the other great places farther afield around town. But I sure as hell won't be back to the Pacific Dining Car where the steak isn't all that much better than it is at Taylor's, and the price is over the top.

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  1. I don't believe I've ever really thought of going to PDC for steak.

    It's usually their breakfast stuff that brings me there. In fact, I can't even think of many general non-breakfast items that are a real draw for me.

    Love Nick & Stef's by the way. Totally underrated.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      True, I do like PDC's breakfasts. Also expensive, but not as over the top so, and very good.

    2. Though I've lived in LA almost my whole life, I had never been to Taylor's.

      A few weeks ago, craving a steak, I decided to take the whole family there.

      We had a very nice time. I had the boneless ribeye, the wife prime rib, one son the london broil and the younger son fish and chips. Drank beer, ordered soft drinks, split some vegetables and a salad and out the door for about 120 bucks, maybe 125.

      The service was professional. The restaurant was crowded, but not loud, sort of a cross-section of LA with older couples, large parties with young children and couples in their 20s and 30s on dates.

      Maybe not the best steak ounce for ounce in the city, but it was definitely a good time at a very reasonable price for four people. Wish I'd gone there sooner.

      I didn't taste anyone else's meal, but I am able to vouch for my steak, cooked medium rare. I should add that we were all so, so stuffed we took some food home and there was no way we could eat any dessert.

      (I should add that I've only been to PDC one time when I was paying and trying to impress a woman. It might have worked, she was with me and our kids at Taylor's. Every other time I've been there it was on an expense account and my boss was paying because he wanted me to impress clients with the food, atmosphere and a bit of LA history.)

      1. I think both restaurants are among the worst in LA. Together with Musso and Frank, they form a triumvirate of old-school, awful food.

        12 Replies
        1. re: sushigirlie

          Where do you like for good "old-school" food in this general area of L.A.?

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I find Taix so mediocre that I can't bring myself to eat there ever again. I logged enough of their offerings when my grandmother was alive. I guess I get the distinct impression that sushi-g doesn't like old-school food in any guise.

              1. re: Servorg

                True. I've also had terrible food at Phillipe's and Clifton's. To be fair, Pacific Dining Car is better than these more downscale "old school" restaurants IMO.

                1. re: sushigirlie

                  There are quite a few hounds, including me, who like old school food and old school places. I would suggest that, since you don't, it might be a good idea to at least include that information in your review so those of us who do like it can take that into account when figuring out whose opinion to give more weight to, and whose to give less.

                2. re: Servorg

                  Taix is still so "old school" that half of the servers will ask the male diner what his female dining companion is having. Ugh.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Agreed. Taix is, at it's best, mediocre wedding food.

                    For old school on the west side, I am a fan of Billingsleys. Not for the food but for the whole thing. Those waitresses!

              2. re: sushigirlie

                Great and I think you are wrong.

                I think Taylor's is one of the most overlooked, underrated restaurants in Los Angeles.

                Both Musso & Frank and Pacific Dining Car put out very good meals which is why they stay in business.

                1. re: sushigirlie

                  have to agree with sushigirlie.
                  scottca075, a lot of restaurants stay in business or go out of business irregardless of food.

                    1. re: scottca075

                      Just because they may have had good food for the first 50+ years doesn't mean the food is still good, particularly relative to the explosion of better options in recent years.

                      That said, I think strategically chosen dishes at Musso & Frank and PDC can make either a worthwhile dining experience.

                      1. re: Peripatetic

                        There is a broad plain between "not as good as they once were" and "worst restaurant in Los Angeles".

                        For a steak I would still prefer the comfy confines of Musso, PDC, even Nick & Stef's over the sterile atmosphere of CUT even if I think CUT has better food.

                2. Estone888 - I love this, but was curious - what did you say as you walked out (my wife hates when I do this), and, have you ever had the steak at PDC? I ask b/c I would never go near that place given the prices, and have been to Taylor's many times and had fine experiences each time.

                  I guess I'm wondering, if a steak is literally twice as much, is it twice as good? I suppose the best steak I've had was probably at Ruth's Chris or the Palm in (not that it matters) Beverly Hills, so am I missing something truly transcendent here?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cant talk...eating

                    We simply said that we'd changed our minds. I have had the steak at PDC before and recall it as being good, though not excellent - better than Taylor's steak, but not by as much as the prices would call for. Either I hadn't remembered how expensive it is, someone else was paying the last time, or the prices have gone up.

                  2. I ate at the Taylor's in La Canada a while back. I really, really wanted to like it. I love old school. Very disappointed in the prime rib, the mashed potatoes were meh, and they couldn't make a mixed (I can't remember what I ordered) if their lives depended on it. The service was professional and the setting was club like but I will be hard pressed to go back. Never been to PDC for dinner because it just isn't in me to pay that much for a steak but I love their breakfasts. I know the difference between a high end aged piece of prime and everything else but since I make a great steak at home, it isn't something that I typically look for in a restaurant. That being said, I would get the rib eye or the prime rib sandwich at Houston's. Sorry this is abbreviated-am making dinner-not steak:)

                    1. Except for breakfast, I also dislike PDC. The expense is scandalous, particularly since the food not that great. You made a good choice. I love Taylor's and go often. In fact, I've been twice the last month! The Molly Salad is just wonderful. They have very good onion rings. And the steaks are very good. In particular I like the filet and, most of all, the New York Strip on the bone. The drinks are good, the service good, I love the atmosphere and you don't have to spend a ton of money. Can't be beat.

                      OLD SCHOOL:

                      Taix... I love to sit at the bar but recently some friends of mine and I have gone to the Monday night Filet Special night. Bottomless soup, good salad, a solid filet with sides... it is a very good deal and I also love the atmosphere in the back room. I love the relish tray, too.

                      Musso's... This is probably my favorite place in LA. Best martini in the world, one of the best Caesars in town, and the grilled meats and many other items (including sand dabs and the macaroni and cheese) are terrific. I think one either loves Musso's or just does not, there does not seem to be much in between. I love it... BUT:

                      Dal Rae... by far the best old school place in So Cal. Wow. I love the Dal Rae.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Tom P

                        Tom - you hit on the best steak value in the city in that Monday night special filet at Taix, for I believe $18.95, inclusive. Ordered rare/medium rare, it never disappoints.
                        Always sit in the bar area, never the main dining room(s).
                        And if into wine, make sure you get the 2nd wine list, not the one handed to you upon being seated. Some superb values there as well, meaning about $5-$10 over cost, meaning the cost paid when it was first released, meaning in some cases nearly 10 years ago.
                        Comparing the Dal to Taylor's, my vote goes to Taylor's in K-Town, not the La Canada version, which seems lifeless and out in the 'burbs, which to many it is.

                        1. re: carter

                          I just looked @ Taix menu online, at the bottom has a blurb...

                          MINIMUM SERVICE CHARGE PER PERSON: 8.95

                          really? $18 minimum tip for 2 regardless of spend?

                          http://taixfrench.com/?page_id=9

                            1. re: ns1

                              I think that (awkward verbiage) means each individual needs to be ordering something worth at least $8.95 off the menu. Not that each person must be tipping that amount.

                          1. Many reasons why some prefer Taylors to PDC and vice-versa but if you didn't try the steaks, how can you say the steaks aren't much better at PDC? One is dry-aged, USDA prime, the other, well, isn't. Hey the former may be expensive or a rip-off but you get a superior steak. In any event, glad you enjoyed Taylors and fancy restaurants aren't for everyone all the time and not always worth the cash.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: jessejames

                              Back 'in the day" (and I'm talking about the early '70s) we were often taken to PDC by suppliers. My boss would order the largest steak on the menu, which was (I think) a 32oz Porterhouse and finish every morsel PLUS sides and several beers. I know it was good back then, at least in a hedonistic sortof way.

                              I shudder to think what the price tag must be on that meal today.

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  Oh, yes. I always thought he ordered that meal just because he could and that he didn't eat again for several days. On the other hand, I worked for him for several years and he was never over 165 pounds or so. And............ could literally eat like a horse, especially on someone else's tab.

                              1. re: jessejames

                                Are you saying Taylors "the former" has dry aged prime steaks?