For those not following the entire saga (and I'm not sure that *I* even am any
longer :-) ), steak for us is an event. Something to be enjoyed once in a great
while. We're looking for the real goods here, something to blow us away.
Whenever someone mentions "steak" and "San Francisco" on ba.food, Izzy's always comes up. It's often quoted as "best steak" or "best value" or both. Izzy's isn't a chain, and doesn't claim prime meat (as I've said before, this isn't a problem, as "prime" is an optional certification). Just about anytime someone mentions Ruth's Chris, someone else shouts back that they much prefer Izzy's. I have a soft spot for locals over chains in any case. We all felt honor bound to check it out.
Izzy's is located in Cow Hollow (I believe this is the correct name for this area), below the Yuppie section of Union street. Parking is good via a garage nearby.
The place has been described as a "saloon", but I think that's being overly
critical. It's casual, but pleasant. It's the kind of place you would come to
after work for some drinks and maybe a dinner. It looks like old world SF. We
had made reservations, and so we got a booth. It's much quieter in there, and
you are almost sealed off from the rest of the place. Because of this, while
reservations don't seem to be needed, I recommend them, and if I return I will
ask for a booth specifically when reserving. Lining one wall of the booth are a
large number of sauces (steak and otherwise). We chose to ignore all of them :-)
Izzy's has a pretty basic set menu. Steak, chops (lamb and pork), some seafood. Standard set of steakhouse aps and sides. We ordered drinks which were good and got us into the correct mood. Bar seems well stocked.
A round of aps was: Caesar salad, house salad, prawn cocktail. All were rather
undistinguished, but the prawns were nice, large, and crisp.
Available steaks are pretty limited -- New York (with or without a peppercorn crust) and Filet (once again, same options). All three of us went for New York strips plain, two "rare" and one "bleu". No lobsters were available, so we didn't get any of those (if you follow my fellow gorgers and I, you'll know we've been known to order both full sized steak AND a full sized lobster).
The steaks were fairly well cooked -- slightly more done than specified, but one could adjust that if needed when ordering. Meat was on the tender side for a New York strip, but really didn't have too much flavor. Overall, we rated the steak as "in the vicinity" of the quality found at Harris, but slightly less. There was some discussion about this (some felt is was worse than "slightly less"). I'd certainly place someplace between Morton's/Harris(SF) and Harris (I-5).
Steaks are $19-$20 and include two sides. For comparison, Ruth's Chris is around $23 and includes no sides (most high end steak houses are a la carte).
Sides were, creamed spinich, Izzy's Scalloped Potatoes (both a specially, we were told), baked potatoes, grilled onions and carots, shoestring fries, mushrooms.
We found the sides to be better than Morton's, in our experience, but much less
quality than Ruth's Chris or Harris (SF). To be fair, the prices were also less,
with two sides included with each meal. The Creamed Spinich (which one of my
fellow meat-festers loves) was considered to be "very good." The baked potato in
particular wasn't up to what I consider a well executed version.
Wine list was fairly limited, but we found a bottle of Penfold's bin XXX (I
can't recall the number) for $25. It seemed appropriate for the level of place,
and priced about 2X of retail. I didn't see any gouging on the pricing for any
Service was fine. Nothing to write home about, nothing to complain of
either, except perhaps a bit of inattentiveness towards the end.
A very well executed New York style cheesecake. An indifferent chocolate
mousse, and a *very* disappointing creme brulee.
$60 each for the three of us, with a generous tip. This is less than Harris/Morton's and quite a bit less than Ruth Chris, but then again, we usually eat much more food at those other places. I would call the price good, but not great. For slightly more, a better experience can be had elsewhere. If you are in it only to keep the cost down, or this particular atmosphere more appeals to you, then it is a good deal.
To moderate this, it certainly is probably best "price performance" steak in the
city. But for us, we'd rather eat something other than steak, or really great
steak. Also, for less money, you can buy your own prime steak and cook it
yourself -- which I have done -- and have it be better than Izzy's.
Meat: Ruth's Chris still wins Izzy's someplace between the two
Harris Sides: Ruth's Chris is best, Izzy's is better than Morton's Wine list:
Morton's the clear winner here Dessert: Morton's wins here as well. Izzy's is
down towards the bottom Service: Harris (SF) wins. Izzy's is in the middle
someplace Atmosphere: Harris wins. Izzy's is very different, so it's not really
a fair match -- certainly wouldn't feel bad about taking someone here.
Izzy's would be a fine place to go if you lived in the area, were stopping by after work, or were on a budget. For us, not worth a special trip to the city, or the "once every 6 month" nature of our meat eating.
For us, Ruth's Chris remains the place of choice, although we may start bringing
our own wine. And with that, we close up my rankings. I hope you found this at
least slightly interesting or useful.
CURRENT STEAKHOUSE RANKING
Note that #2 and #5 *used to be* but are currently unrelated. #2 and #3 are close
on many things #5 and beyond drop off in quality rather quickly. #8 is not worth
ordering steaks at, IMHO, in spite of what they claim
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