Restaurant Review: When considering where to go in San Diego for a fine cut of beef cooked to utter perfection, put the nationally acclaimed Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar at the top of your list. With a location in La Jolla and another in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, this highly rated, multi-award winning restaurant is sure to deliver a memorable dining experience.
Fleming's Corporate Executive Chef Russell Skall has raised the bar on the American steakhouse by offering fresh, inventive and amply portioned menu options alongside traditional favorites, each incorporating the highest-quality ingredients. In addition to an array of steak options, Fleming's also offers tempting lamb, poultry and seafood, mouth-watering side dishes and salads, and no less than 100 choices of wine by the glass. Fleming's Director of Wine Marian Jansen op de Haar has indeed cultivated an extensive collection of wine to pair perfectly with Fleming's fine fare, all served up in a sophisticated, though entirely warm and inviting, atmosphere
I recently visited Fleming's La Jollalocation for a family-style dinner with an associate and my two children ages 7 and 10, who are already gourmet dining aficionados in their own right. Upon arrival, we were promptly escorted to a comfortable and relatively private booth with a great view of the open kitchen and Executive Chef Christopher Gardner commanding his brigade.
In short order I was sipping a divine 2007CAMBRIA, Santa Maria Valley Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir dutifully selected for me by Operating Partner Tony Ghosn. My party then proceeded to share a variety of appetizers. From the starters menu we opted for the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes in a roasted red pepper and lime butter sauce and the Sweet Chile Calimari lightly breaded and tossed with sweet chile pepper sauce. The crab cakes were thankfully far more crab then cake, and were decidedly well seasoned. The calamari was a surprise, plated already tossed in a sweet and tangy glaze accented with various types of peppers.
Other notables from the appetizer menu include the Tenderloin Carpaccio with caper Creole mustard sauce and red onion, the Wicked Cajun Barbecue Shrimp marinated with garlic and spices, and the Chilled Seafood Tower-a meal in itself-with lobster, shrimp, crab and seasonal selections served with traditional accompaniments. Another starter of note is the Lump Crab Louie Wraps, made with lump crab meat, 1,000 Island vinaigrette, avocado, bacon, hard boiled egg, grape tomatoes and chives stuffed into butter lettuce cups. Pair this with a Santa Barbara County 2007 Sanford Chardonnay and you'll be good to go!
For our salad course we opted for the Fresh Mozzarella and Sweet Tomato drizzled with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh basil, which truly tasted fresh off the farm. The namesake Fleming's Salad is another standout, featuring seasonal greens, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, tomatoes and croutons.
The generously portioned side dishes are definitely large enough to share. We chose the extremely large baked potato with all the fixin's-sour cream, butter, chives, bacon and cheddar cheese, "Half and Half" of double cut shoestring fries and immensely-sized onion rings, Sautéed Mushrooms-fresh button and Portobello-sautéed in butter with whole garlic, and Sautéed French Green Beans with shiitake mushrooms and porcini essence. Other available sides include the House Specialty Potatoes with cream, jalape?os, and cheddar cheese; Chipotle Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese; and Creamed Spinach.
Of course, the star of the show at Fleming's is the steak. Only the finest USDA Prime beef is served, aged up to four weeks for optimum flavor and texture. All the classics are here, including petite, "lite," and regular Filet Mignon, Prime Ribeye with or without the bone, and Prime New York Strip. Each delectable meat entrée is seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper, broiled at 1600 degrees to seal in all the juices and flavor, and then finished with a dab of butter and fresh chopped parsley. Peppercorn, madeira and béarnaise sauces are served with all steaks upon request.
Speaking of classics, from Fleming's "New Classics" menu I selected the Porcini Rubbed Filet Mignon — a center cut served with grilled high country asparagus spears in a rich and creamy gorgonzola cream sauce. Extraordinarily tender, I could honestly cut this steak with a fork, and, while the gorgonzola cream sauce was divine, the steak was so moist and well flavored it could have been served on its own. Also on the New Classics menu is its Peppercorn Steak — a prime New York strip with cracked black and white peppercorns served in Fleming's proprietary "F17" steak sauce on the side.
Other top-shelf meat options on the menu include New Zealand Lamb Chops, Nagle Veal Chop, Double Thick Pork Rib Chop and a Double Breast of Chicken. On Sundays, Fleming's features its famed Prime Rib with a trio of sauces.
For the seafood lovers in your party, there are an array of fine selections like the Tillamook Bay Petrale Sole with crab beignets and a lemon butter sauce; Tuna Mignon with poppy seed au poivre and a tomato sherry vinaigrette; Seared New Bedford Scallops with a puff pastry, sautéed fresh vegetables and a lobster cream sauce; and Salmon Nicoise Salad with broiled salmon fillet, roasted Yukon potatoes, French green beans, truffled deviled eggs, roasted sweet baby peppers and a lemon-balsamic vinaigrette. With options like these, it's a tough choice whether to dine on land or by sea!
While by the time we finished our entrées we were more than satiated, we simply HAD to make room for Fleming's famed Chocolate Lava Cake-a rich chocolate cake with a molten warm chocolate center, served with vanilla ice cream and chopped pistachios. As rich, decadent and robust as it sounds, and well worth every calorie. Other desserts well worth a mention are Fleming's Walnut Turtle Pie, Frozen Lemon Gingersnap Pie, and Fresh Berries and Chantilly Cream. Delicious confusion to say the least.
In all, this was a hugely satisfying meal that was not eaten, but rather savored, bite-by-bite. Next time you're heading out for a meal, I urge you to visit Fleming's to taste prime beef in all of its glory.
For locations and directions to Fleming's Prime Steak House and Wine Bar, visit www.flemingssteakhouse.com.
Merilee Kern is JustLuxé.com's "The Luxe List" Executive Review Editor. She scours the luxury marketplace for new and captivating product, service and travel "musts." Submissions are accepted via e-mail at Merilee@JustLuxe.com. View all of Merilee's Luxe List articles from here (scroll to page bottom) and follower her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor.
Merilee A. Kern is a good life connoisseur who scours the luxury marketplace for new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points - the extreme high end to the affordable. The best of the best across all product, service and travel categories are detailed in her exclusive column 'The Luxe List' that reaches millions of affluent consumers each month through multiple print...(Read More)