Meat on Ocean is the steakhouse LA has been waiting for, where new-age and old-school come together to showcase time-honored fine dining in a way that that long-time Angelinos and visitors alike can revel in. This is more than a restaurant, instilling in its guests not just a dining experience, but for many a timeless moment where the senses unite under completely new sights, sounds, aromas, and of course, tastes.
Part of the experience is their gargantuan dining room that essentially encompasses five restaurant atmospheres in one, ensuring that no two meals are the same. Each section of this massive open-air space caters to a different audience. Classic plush red booths under longhorn displays line one wall, paying homage to the classic steakhouse. Further down that same wall is more modern décor, for those seeking something newer with the same intimacy. Large group tables line the restaurant’s center, adjacent to a long bar that pays homage to a spot where you’d order a dirty martini, yet churns out cocktails that compete with any modern mixology program. Meat on Ocean then seamlessly transitions to a hybrid of indoor and outdoor seating, where tables closest to Ocean Ave. enjoy a windowless escape with a full roof over their head, as well as gorgeous ocean views with the Santa Monica Pier in the backdrop.
Patrons are not just diners at Mean on Ocean, but also audience members, many with a full view of the market-style display of wines stacked in wooden boxes, as well as the butcher’s area, where the day’s cuts are prepared. Even the smell is reminiscent of a rural European marketplace, where fresh meats, cheeses and wines are exchanged with love and care.
Then you find the aging room, custom-engineered with the sole goal of developing the perfect dry-aged steak. Kept to 35 degrees and 85 percent humidity, this fortress is sealed with steel doors and lined with fans that circulate Himalayan salt-infused air to accentuate flavor over time. Staff members put on special clothing before entering, so as to not contaminate the meat with foreign smells by simply walking past them. Steaks age in here for up to 75 days. Good luck finding another room like this in any restaurant, let alone one that could otherwise rest its laurels on simply being close to the beach.
The aging room is just the beginning, however. Meat on Ocean has developed a mind-blowing seven-stage cooking process to ensure that every bit of refined flavor reaches its full potential on your plate. A team of chefs guide each steak through a journey across ovens you won’t find in most restaurants, ranging from several hundred to more than 2000 degrees, to make sure color, temperature and consistency are nothing short of perfect, regardless of how you like your steak cooked.
By now it should be no surprise that Meat on Ocean serves one of the greatest steaks you’re going to get in Los Angeles, and short of a trip to Japan’s Kobe region, likely one of the greatest steaks you’re going to get…period. Biting into a Meat on Ocean steak is other-worldly, whereby literally months of preparation and countless levels of detail hit you all at once. Many fine steakhouses will have a crust, a finishing ingredient or a single cooking technique that defines their signature flavor, but at Meat on Ocean, it’s a full process, a lifespan, so to speak, that raises the bar to a level simply unattainable for most.
A robust menu doesn’t keep itself to steak, however. As if its meat preparation process wasn’t enough, Meat on Ocean is under the King’s Seafood umbrella—the same owner of the illustrious Water Grill right down the street. That means fresh, sustainable seafood achieving another almost unfair level of quality, prepared with an equal level of culinary mastery. One bite of their Chilean Seabass, or their sensational octopus, and you’ll easily understand.
The intrigue doesn’t stop there. Meat on Ocean takes advantage of every part of the meat it sources, reduces excess fat from their beef into a tallow, and incorporates that tallow into many other aspects of the menu. This means beef tallow fries, exceptionally buttery meatballs and so much more.
And yes, of course Meat on Ocean makes nearly every dessert in-house, including a decadent bread pudding and a rotating ice cream menu. And that cocktail program? No syrups involved, just pure muddling and mixing of fresh berries and other ingredients.
Filling a restaurant the size of Meat on Ocean, in one of the most expensive areas on the planet, would be a daunting task for virtually anyone in the business. But now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of the way this place runs its show, there should be no doubt as to why Meat on Ocean is packed every day of the week. Just make sure to book in advance, and specify which part of the restaurant you’d like to make yours for the evening.
Meat on Ocean is located at 1501 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Open 11:30a – 11p Sun – Thu, 11:30a – midnight Fri – Sat. Avg. out-the-door price for appetizer, entrée, side, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$145/person. For reservations and more information call (310) 773-3366 or visit MeatOnOcean.com.
Five Crowns embodies a multi-layered network of history rarely found in any industry, and one that’s becoming harder and harder to come by in the restaurant world. On one end you have its parent, Lawry’s Restaurants, whose humble beginnings go back to the late 1800’s. Then you’ve got the nearly 100-year-old building that gives Five Crowns an ambiance that simply can’t be replicated, with a dizzying maze of dining niches, bars and beautiful yards that remind you that the property was once a private beachside mansion. And of course you’ve got the restaurant’s own timeline, dating back more than 50 years and embodying its namesake on multiple levels—Literally the fifth crown jewel of Lawry’s, conveniently located in Corona Del Mar, or the ‘crown of the sea.’
While Lawry’s in general has taken powerful steps in modernizing its restaurants, the timeless comforts that give a place like Five Crowns its livelihood remain as strong as ever. Dark wood trimmings, old-fashioned lanterns and the London phone booth outside cast a tone of unknown nostalgia, a perfect setup for your first step through the front door, where you’re taken back to a time you never remember experiencing. Walking through Five Crowns feels like a warm blanket has been placed over your shoulders, with fireplaces lining nearly every corner and jovial conversation dancing across seemingly endless pockets of tables. With bedazzled crowns ‘hidden’ along the old-style wallpaper and a canons hanging by chains from the ceiling, as well as a crowd dressing in everything from flip flops to fine suits, the restaurant embodies enough of a Disney ride to make things even more magical.
Five Crowns’ menu is as iconic as its ambiance. The prime rib that made Lawry’s famous is of course a staple here, masterfully prepared with creamy horseradish (not too spicy, don’t worry), succulent au jus and of course Lawry’s seasoned salt and pepper that may blow the minds of those unaware of the origins of the spice they see in the grocery store all the time (“Oh, that’s where it comes from!”). And Yorkshire pudding and mashed potatoes aside, to order the prime rib without creamed corn would be truly sinful.
Items like the beef bone marrow, with a hearty prime rib beef jam on top, showcase that Five Crowns is unquestionably keeping up with the times. Meanwhile, indulgences like rich lobster bisque and a buttery rack of lamb with wilted spinach and mint jelly demonstrate that this place has roots and is sticking to them. With decades of perfecting their craft, Five Crowns is too strong to shy away from their culinary foundation in favor of the next great food trend. This is a place where fans of classic fine dining will breathe easily and enjoy one dreamful bite after another.
While it’s hard to pass on such famous prime rib, you’ll be undoubtedly wowed by the steak. Five Crowns serves a ribeye for the books, finished with an excellent crust and eye-fluttering tenderness. Pair it, or anything on the menu, for that matter, with a fine wine or contemporary cocktail.
Then there’s dessert. That dark chocolate souffle is another piece of time-tested mastery, but the sticky toffee pudding should certainly be ordered alongside. You’ll thank yourself.
Five Crowns is located at 3801 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625. Open 4:30 – 11p Mon – Sat, 4:30 – 10p Sun. Avg. out-the-door price for appetizer, entrée, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$130/person. For more information call (949) 760-0331 or visit LawrysOnline.com/Five-Crowns
Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse is your classic friendly neighborhood steakhouse. White tablecloths, plush booths, servers lad in chef whites and fancy dessert carts put Davio’s on somewhat of an endangered species list in this day and age of modern chic, but with 25+ years of history on the east coast, this place is making big bets on comfort, coziness and iconic charm. Those 25 years, however, were built up with steakhouse grade hormone-free cuts, homemade pastas and a menu that brings timeless and new age dishes together.
Davio’s 3,000-mile journey out west brought it to a business park in Irvine, where needless to say they’re killing it on power lunches and business dinners. But the experience goes much further, with corporate clientele coming back dressed down and with families in tow. The newest offering is Davio’s Sunday Brunch, which is picking up steam as a high-end weekend dining destination.
If you’re looking to make your Sunday afternoon fun and fancy, with a feeling of privacy and seclusion, plus the unbelievably rare opportunity to actually make a brunch reservation, you just got a solid go-to with Davio’s. Ridiculous beef tenderloin Benedict and a crab omelet with crab ‘impossibly everywhere’ are just a preview of how this steakhouse takes brunch to the next level, complemented beautifully with a bloody Mary cart complete with fresh bacon, jumbo prawns and virtually anything else you can put in a morning cocktail.
The full Italian steakhouse experience is readily available at brunch as well, with hand-rolled potato gnocchi, fresh lobster rolls and of course an array of classic steak and seafood options. And whatever you’re craving, you owe it to yourself to start with the spring rolls. Far from your typical Far East dish, these variations are stuffed with Philly cheesesteak, Reuben, chicken parmesan and east coast specialties that allow Davio’s to show off its historic roots.
Davio’s did adapt to SoCal quite well in its ambiance, finding a location with tons of natural light and an expansive patio. It makes it that much easier to enjoy another bloody Mary, glass of wine or craft cocktail. Then that dessert cart comes out and the hardest decision of the day is whether to go with the molten chocolate cake or the panna cotta. Make it easy on yourself and just get both.
Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse is located at 18420 Von Karman Ave, Irvine CA 92162. Open 11:30a – 10p Mon/Tue, 11:30a – 11p Wed – Fri, 5p – 12a Sat, 11a – 10p Sun. Avg. out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$85/person. For more information and reservations call (949) 477-4810 or visit Davios.com/Irv.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.