By Jill Weinlein, 9/20/2012
What makes Fleming’s Steakhouse different from other steakhouses is their tableside martini. The bartenders make eight varieties including a vintage vodka martini, appletini, and sparkling peach martini. A server picks up the creative cocktail from the bar and brings a silver martini shaker and iced cold martini glass to the table. He shakes it for about thirty-seconds and pours it right in front of you.
Another difference is the menu. There are two pages of food items and four pages dedicated to beverages. They offer 100 wines by the glass with a wide variety of whites, reds and blends, from sparkling and bubbly to sweet wines. “Wine is an intensely personal choice, and wine by the glass is the perfect way to celebrate it,” said Maeve Pesquera, Fleming’s Director of Wine.
The list includes many iconic wineries from California, as well as international wines. They have bottles from Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Flemings has a dozen California locations, including L.A. Live, which opened in 2008, with manager Matt Tietig. He told us that he has watched the company grow from 10 to 64 restaurants.
“During Laker games and concerts, we are full,” said Tietig as he seated us in a brick colored velvet booth surrounded by mahogany wood-paneled walls.
Steaks are the featured item on the menu, but chicken, pork and seafood is offered as well. I ordered the creamy wedge salad and a double breast of chicken, marinated with Italian spices and extra-virgin olive oil overnight and grilled before serving. My husband ordered the crab cakes and bone-in filet mignon. The corn-fed beef is USDA Prime that has been aged for up to four weeks to maximize flavor and texture.
At Fleming’s each steak is seasoned with Kosher salt and black pepper and then broiled in a 1600 degree oven, sealing in the juices. The steaks are finished with a dab of butter and parsley. Order a few sides to accompany your entrée – there are ten to choose from.
We paired the filet with a new wine on the menu, The Dreaming Tree, Crush to Coast 2010, a red blend made with 78 percent Merlot, 13 percent Syrah, Zinfandel, Petit Syrah and Cabernet with hints of black cherry, currant and plum.
In 1998, Paul Fleming, of P.F. Chang fame, and Bill Allen created the first Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Newport Beach. Their vision was to open a modern-style steakhouse with a new type of ambiance and experience for the customer.
In the past, steakhouses appealed to “suits” – businessmen conducting meetings over steak and scotch. Fleming noticed this and made his steakhouse friendly to everyone, including families with children.
Fleming’s offers small plates that are larger than an appetizer. Instead of the entrée size portion, one can order a variety of satisfying dishes that include sliced filet mignon with shiitake risotto, New Zealand petite lamb chops, or seared Ahi tuna on a vegetable salad.
During the month of Sept., Fleming’s is offering “bottle wars” on Friday evenings. It’s a series of four unique wine tastes. Each event offers 8 to 10 well-matched wines for $25. The restaurant’s wine managers guide guests through the experience. Tomorrow night on Old World vs. New World. French and Italian wines will compete with newer Napa Valley and Australian wines to see if there is a preferred region. On Sept. 28, the evening is “Glass Warfare” where premium wines and value-priced wines made from similar grapes are put to the taste test.
Fleming’s offers a “5-6-7” bar menu priced at $6. Order one or more of the 5 tempting appetizers, 5 premium cocktails and 5 distinctive wines by the glass. This unique menu is offered 7 nights a week from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. One can order the Prime Burger with cheese and bacon, or a jumbo shrimp cocktail or roasted ravioli with a special martini for $12.
For couples wanting a memorable meal, Fleming’s offers a prix-fixe menu for two, this month only. Couples can enjoy shrimp bisque with a triple entrée of broiled filet mignon, herb baked shrimp and braised short ribs. Dessert is a frozen almond soufflé. This three-course dinner is $49.50 per person. Add a flight of three wines from Huneeus Vintners Portfolio: The Prisoner, Primus Cabernet and Quintessa 2006 for an additional $25 each.
There are three locations in Southern California. L.A. Live at 800 W. Olympic Blvd. (213)745-9911 El Segundo at 2301 Rosecrans Ave. (310)643-6911 and Woodland Hills at 6373 Topanga Cyn. Blvd. (818)346-1005. $$$