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Cocktails and Celebrities

Grill on the Alley

Reviewed by Mark Alyn

Finding a place for dinner that everyone you know will enjoy, without complaining about the food is difficult. One person doesnít like meat, another doesnít like fish, someone else eats only vegetarian. How do you satisfy everyone? The answer is The Grill on the Alley.

Actually, I shied away from The Grill for quite a while. I didnít want to be suckered into another celebrity-oriented chain to be disappointed again (reference is Hard Rock Cafť). I have to admit I was wrong: The Grill on the Alley delivers superior food and service.

Okay, The Grill on the Alley doesnít deliver to your home (in Westlake they do have a parking spot in front for Takeout). But if youíre dining in you get great food in an updated edition of the classic American Steakhouse.

The menu is fairly standard steakhouse fare but done right. I still prefer Mastroís overall, but The Grill offers outstanding dinner service and a varied menu.

Happy hour here is a must. Drinks are more than reasonable (for well orders not called) at six dollars a pop. Consider drinks at many places are $12 and you can see this amazing value. Add a buck to the well drink and you can sip Absolut.†

A drink recommendation is the signature is the Ruby Red Lemon Drop. A blend of Absolut Ruby Red Vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, lemon, and lime this is not overly sweet. Itís refreshing and brisk.

Small plates during happy hour are good. Enough for a bite or two, you can share and try more.

Fried Calamari is outstanding. A very light batter surrounds the squid parts. Dipping sauce has a nice touch of heat. For another dollar they double the size of the order. The sidekicks are little burgers made from American Kobe. Iím not a fan of Hummus (I prefer baba ganoush hummus mixed with roasted eggplant), but this is a nice version of the Mid Eastern dish.†Blue cheese fries are very popular but donít resonate with me.

The short rib is amazing. Served with Yukon Gold Horseradish Mash Potatoes and topped with a Brown Sauce, I could eat a few of these for my entrťe. Really this is very nice. The Colorado Lamb Chop, a bit pricey for a chop or two, is a nice twist of the classic dish. Itís served with a fresh mint sauce. The Sea Scallop topped with a Beurre Blanc on a bed of spinach, onions and bacon is another winner.

Honestly, with several cocktails and small bites Iím usually done. I do have to watch my waist. However I have been know to indulge once in a while in a full course meal.

My favorite started at a steak house is always the wedge. Iím searching for the perfect combination of rich tasting blue cheese, tomatoes, sweet onion and bacon. This is a good one. Itís large enough to share. Seared Ahi Tuna Sashimi is good, as is the Steak Tartare. Iíve shared Oysters on the Half Shell and they are offered with a Mignonette Sauce (shallots and vinegar) that is a nice contrast to the salty sweetness of the oysters. Cocktail sauce is also available.†

A note about beef: there are no warnings on the menu about ordering your steak more than medium. I like my steaks rare. To me a steak has more flavor, more depth and is more tender when not cooked so much. Try your steak less cooked then you usually ordered it. See if you can taste the difference.

Steaks are prime aged beef and melt in your mouth. They have a variety of daily specials. When available, I love skirt steak. Properly prepared itís tender and juicy with a lot of flavor. Iíve had the New York Steak, tasted the Dover Sole and the Jumbo Crab Cakes. All are very good.

As a side I loved the grilled asparagus and the grilled vegetables with a balsamic glaze. Creamed spinach was also okay.

The wine list is deep, with more than 30 wines available by the glass. This is exceptional!

Desserts are routine. The signature dessert is ďThe GrillĒ a brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, warm caramel and chocolate sauce. While itís very good, itís somehow disappointing. With the expertise in the kitchen they could do more.

I like The Grill on the Alley a lot. Iíve tried several locations and they all have the same comfortable atmosphere and service. The Happy Hour is a real winner. Itís a great take on the American Steakhouse.

Mark Alyn

As a host, reporter and writer Mark has talked about and scribbled about food, wine and travel. He has appeared on TV, the Internet and radio talking about trends in these fields. And he has written numerous features about them as well. Mark was one of the first to feature food topics on the radio in Los Angeles and Memphis. He has interview world-class chefs (His favorite being the late Jul...(Read More)

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