The Royce (Pasadena, CA)
The Langham Huntington
1401 S Oak Knoll Ave
Pasadena, CA 91106
Dining date: 7/10/14
The Langham Pasadena’s main restaurant has gone through a number of changes since I first dined on Craig Strong’s food at The Dining Room. Since then, Michael Voltaggio and David Feau have taken the helm for relatively short-lived chef-driven concepts (Voltaggio left to start ink. and Feau’s The Royce struggled to grasp its regular clientele). Early last year, The Royce was reborn as a steakhouse, a more conservative concept perhaps more reflecting the tastes of its primary customer base.
The Royce boasts USDA Prime cuts, as well as some international wagyu selections, all grilled over a wood fire. A largely seafood-based selection of appetizers and some seasonal side dishes round out the menu. I felt no urgency to try the new steakhouse concept, but being a steak lover I figured a visit was in order at some point. That point was just this past week.
Cocktails were our first order of business while perusing the menu.
A THOUSAND TYPEWRITERS
We decided to order two appetizers, two steaks and two sides for the evening’s meal.
DUNGENESS CRAB CAKE sumac, celery root, apple slaw
I really liked the crispiness on this crab cake hiding a sweet crab filling. Celery root and an apple slaw provided a nice fresh crispness to counteract the richness of the fried ball.
MAINE LOBSTER BISQUE sherry vinegar
Not too rich but still substantial, the bisque was a tasty one. Four small chunks of the shellfish provided some sweet bites.
We moved into a red wine ahead of the arrival of the steaks. We ordered a ribeye as well as a steak sampler to share.
RIBEYE moyer farm
The steak was cooked to a nice medium rare; juicy and flavorful. The sear was decent, crusty in some parts but less so in others. A good steak for sure, but I wouldn’t call it great.
GLOBAL CUT TASTING moyer farm new york, brandt ribeye, australian wagyu outside skirt
We also opted for this sampling of three 3oz portions just to try a little more. The standout of the three was easily the Australian wagyu outside skirt; luscious and buttery, it was extraordinarily rich and flavorful. The ribeye and New York steaks, like the Moyer Farm ribeye, were good but not great. I should have figured this out before ordering, but I thought the price on this item was excessive. The $88 price tag for the total 9 ounce dish was easily more than buying two of these full 10-14oz steaks a la carte ($36-42 each).
SOFT POLENTA aged gouda
We ordered these sides, recommended by the server, one starch and one vegetable. The polenta was pretty creamy, though on the rich and oily side. The gouda provided a nice crispy topping. The spinach was a disappointment, overly drenched in a truffle oil dressing. Really rather one-note.
Feeling pretty stuffed, a lone affogato was dessert. This was actually really good.
The Royce cooked up some good steaks, but they didn’t stand out compared to other notable ones I’ve had recently (Carnevino) or around town (Chi Spacca, CUT). I feel like steak is the easier part though and that the other courses and sides really help to differentiate a steakhouse. Here, The Royce really fell behind; while the starters were solid, the sides were just disappointing. To boot, service was surprisingly sloppy with inconsistent attention and wine/ water glasses often going unfilled. For a restaurant that doesn’t draw a whole lot of people (and on this Thursday evening where empty tables far outnumbered occupied ones), I expected more in this department.
Too bad with 88 dollar plates of food this experience should have been flawless on all levels. You probably would have had a better meal at Morton’s. xD