Steaking San Diego

about 32.7153292, -117.1572551

I never expected to like large slabs of meat barely cooked and served with nothing, but steaks have a way of growing on you - sometimes literally.

There are two steak joints of note inches from where I work - Rainwaters on Kettner and Ruth's Chris. One a resolutely independent steakhouse, one part of America's largest fine dining chain. Both, however, were very similar in appearance - dramatic curved stairways leading to a huge, heavily wood-panelled upstairs dining room. Ruth's has the advantage of better views, perched as it is just off Harbor drive, and also seemed busier than the very empty Rainwaters.

I had the ribeye in both places (no, not on the same day, not even the same month - I'm not that fond of cholesterol). To start with, both steaks were excellent, but there are differences. Ruth's gave me a detailed writeup of the special oven, the New Orleans rags to riches story and placed a sizzling medium-rare steak floating in butter in front of me. the butter added a wonderful, if extremely guilty kick to the proceedings, and was wonderful to mop up with bread afterwards. Rainwaters avoided the butter, but seemed to be the richer, tastier steak. It also had a better seared crust so I award them the crown by a slim margin.

The other steakhouse I tried was Georges on 5th, this time in the Gaslamp district. They had a much more elaborate story involving Wyatt Earp and a much busier ground-floor dining room in the middle of Gaslamp. It seems the dining room was formerly a den of vice, gambling and all that other good stuff - now it just serves dinner. There was plenty of buildup there about how it was the only place in San Diego to be hand selected, certified Angus prime. The steak - a filet mignon this time, with a port wine demi-glace - was unfortunately not quite in the league of the other two. First, it wasn't charred at all on the outside. Second, it lacked the robust beefy punch and was distracted by an ordinary demi-glace. Since the prices are the same as the others, my recommendation is to go there only with Wyatt Earp devotees.

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