Monday, January 30, 2017

The Royce Wood-Fired Steak House - Pasadena

The Royce Wood-Fired Steak House is located in the Langham Hotel Pasadena and features prime beef cooked on a wood-fired grill using white oak and seasonal wood. I have never been to a steak house with the same kind of variety of steaks. For example, I was interested in a ribeye. They had a 14 oz. ribeye from Moyer Farms in Pennsylvania; a 14 oz. ribeye from Brandt Beef in Brawley, California; a 14 oz. bone-in ribeye from Cedar River Farm in Arizona; a 16 oz. bone-in ribeye from California; and a 12 oz. Greg Norman Signature Australian wagyu ribeye. They had other kinds of steaks: New York strip, filet mignon, a 90 day dry aged sirloin (that I thought about), other Australian wagyu cuts and a Japanese wagyu tenderloin. All U.S. cuts of beef were prime, the highest rating for U.S. beef. 

Although they are beef centric, they have other items such as Colorado rack of lamb (which Judy got), a Wisconsin veal chop, a filet with seared goie gras, Hawaiian swordfish, wild king salmon, butter poached Maine lobster, and John Dory (a type of fish). 

My firm had a dinner with our wives there after a day long retreat. They have a big wine selection which attracted my partner, who selected the restaurant, but I'm not a wine drinker so that aspect of it has no meaning for me. 

I got the 16 oz. bone-in prime ribeye and found that it was nicely seasoned. I asked for it to be rare to medium rare and felt like it was a tad-bit overdone and there were portions of it that were quite gristly and hard to cut and chew. I'd had a 40 day dry aged ribeye just the day before and it was better than this steak, from the standpoint of flavor, tenderness and done-ness. That said, it was still a nice tasting piece of meat. They offer sauces to go with it and I specifically asked for chimichurri. I did not find out until some time after I got my steak that they put the whole panoply of sauces on the table, including bordelaise, bearnaise, horseradish cream, as well as chimichurri. I was disappointed that my waiter had not targeted my asked for sauce on my plate. I did try several of the sauces and they were excellent. 
I also ordered a bone marrow gratin which was listed as "Additions to your steak" and I figured it would be placed on top of the steak. Gratin is a light-brown crust of breadcrumbs which came on a one-half beef bone marrow on a plate. It came quite late and I found out that it was placed at the other end of the table by our waiter and found its way to me by reason of elimination as people passed on it as not belonging to them. Again, not great waiter service. When you are paying high-end prices for high-end steaks, you expect that the service will be reasonable. The bone-marrow itself was good, but the seasoning on it was lacking. I've had much better. These places don't place seasoning on the table so you live or die by how it was seasoned by the chef. I ended up scooping the marrow out with a fork, as they provided no spoon, and spread it on the top of my steak in a way that I'd anticipated it would come. I quite like it on the steak as it soaked up some of the seasoning on the outside of the steak. 
I ordered steak tartare with tabasco vinaigrette and potato chips as an appetizer and it was excellent. I've had steak tartare about five or six times and this was by far the best I've had. It had somewhat of a liverwurst taste that I really liked, and had little drops of spicy mustard on the plate that went really well with it. The tabasco sauce also went really well with it. A raw quail egg was nestled in the center of it and it provided a nice creaminess to it. I would go back for this. Very, very good. The home-made potato chips were the size of a full length potato and were nicely seasoned. I shared them with four other people and all commented on how good they were. 
The little dollops of yellow are mustard and I believe the green streaks are chimichurri. 
A quail egg is in the middle and the reddish/brown sauce is tabasco-based. 
We shared a potato puree with horseradish and cheese that was fantastic, very creamy and cheesy, with just a hint of heat. Another dish I would go back for. 

We also shared some charred brussel sprouts. There again, our waiter did not put our order in front of us and much of it was eaten by other diners at our table who also had ordered brussel sprouts (I think they must have been an order short). The waiters did not do a good job of getting the dishes to the right spot on the table. The brussels were good, but not outstanding. 

Finally, I got a sorbet with three scoops. One was tangerine, one was mango or guava, and the other was creamy white with a flavor I could not distinguish. I was not particularly fond of two of them and left most of it uneaten.

I would love to go back. No restaurant hits a home-run with every dish and this one had two - the steak tartare and the mashed potatoes. And Judy's lamb was actually very good as well, both taste and quantity-wise. I would like to try the dry-aged sirloin and the Australian wagyu ribee. Our group for this meal was ten people. The service would be better with a smaller group. 


  1. I thought my lamb was a solid A. The creamy potatoes were an A+. I'd go back just for them.

  2. I like the thought that no restaurant hits a home-run with every dish, but poor service can ruin any meal.