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Shula's 347 -- Los Angeles, CA
Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX
6101 W. Century Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Date of Visit: 24 May 2005
OVERALL EXPERIENCE (5 is Best)
I have said this before and I will repeat it: "Don Shula's is quite possibly the best steak house in America." The ChiefMeatInspector and I were not disappointed when we visited the newly-opened Shula's 347 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX on May 24th.
Coach Shula's enterprise consists of several "brandings" of steak houses. Most notably -- to me, anyway -- is Don Shula's Steak House. I have been to several and they all rank at the top. (Sadly, my trip to the franchise Shula's On The Beach in Fort Lauderdale last year was my only disappointing experience at any Shula's.)
The second of its kind to open (the first is in Norfolk, VA), Shula's 347 gets its name from the number of victories (347) for Coach Don Shula, "...the winningest coach in NFL history". Like the coach's other restaurants, only specially selected and cut Certified Angus Beef® is used. Without a doubt, this is the best, most consistent beef around.
It was Tuesday night and reservations were for seven o'clock. Arriving early, we checked in at the front desk and went in the bar. You are immediately struck at the clean design and modern decor throughout the lounge. Soft lighting, comfortable chairs, and the obligatory huge flat panel TV behind the bar, all combine to make you feel welcome and comfortable.
The bartender was very knowledgeable and answered all our wine-related questions with ease. Recommendations were made and samples of the wine poured for us to taste. We decided on a couple of glasses of 2002 Villa Mt. Eden pinot noir ($10/glass). It has lots of nice fruit with a long finish and mild tannins. A very nice wine and a very generous pour by the bartender.
After enjoying the wine and good conversation with the bartender, we headed into the dining room for dinner. The same modern design as the lounge is carried over into the dining area. We were ushered to a comfortable booth with a large "Reserved" sign sitting atop the starched white tablecloth. The waitress appeared shortly with menus and the "library" wine list. I said we would review the menu and both wine lists and make a choice in a few minutes.
The "regular" wine list is on the back of the menu and, as restaurant wine lists go, is not excessively overpriced. However, it is the most limited wine list of any steak house that I have seen. I would highly recommend that attention be paid to this list and changes and additions made as soon as possible. As for the "library" list, the lowest price red was $125 and the highest $285. It contained nothing exciting and certainly nothing worthy of its price. We opted for the Robert Mondavi 2001 cabernet sauvignon ($42) from the "regular" wine list.
And now the food. The ChiefMeatInspector ordered "The Wedge" salad ($8), the "Cowboy" bone-in 16-ounce rib eye ($32), a baked potato ($3.47....yes, that is the correct price. All their sides are priced at $3.47 each!), and sauteed garlic spinach ($3.47). I opted for the beefsteak tomato salad ($8), 16-ounce New York strip ($34) and a baked potato ($3.47).
Both salads were fantastic. The Gorgonzola cheese that was liberally sprinkled atop each dish melted in your mouth. The Dead Cow was, as always, superb. Perfectly cooked, we were able to practically cut each one with a fork. The accompanying sides of baked potato and garlic spinach were perfectly prepared.
We were both way too full to even consider dessert....but when the waitress brought over a complimentary plate of warm molton chocolate cake (it was my birthday!), we dug in. The cake was warm and gooey--as all molton chocolate cake should be. It was complimented with a side of whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. This sumptuous chocolate dessert went very well with the remaining Mondavi cabernet.
The entire dinner experience was great, with excellent food and competent service. We do, however, have some issues to address. One is a staffing issue. We did not notice any person whose job it was to refill water glasses and remove used plates, etc. These tasks were left to the waitress. With her serving several tables, sometimes getting fresh water took some time. The other issue was with the server who brought the meal to our table, not our waitress. It appears that they do not have a procedure where this person knows which entree goes with which guest. She stood there with a plate in hand and in a very low, almost inaudible voice, asked, "Who gets the New York?" Other places who have non-wait staff deliver food to the table know who gets what. The next issue is with the same person who brought the food to the table. When she placed the plates down, I asked her if she would please bring us a side of extra sour cream. She said yes. And that was the last we saw of her. The request was totally forgotten. I mentioned this to our waitress after we were finished with our meal, and she did not seem overly concerned about this lapse of service. The last issue was with the transfer of the bar bill to the dinner tab. I asked the bartender if we could do this and he said yes. He even walked the bar tab over to the hostess and gave it to her as we were being seated. When we were presented with the bill at the end of the meal, it did not show the bar tab. I brought this to the attention of the waitress. She left to "check on it" and returned a short while later with the complete bill that included the bar tab.
The restaurant is still in its "soft" opening stages. Their offical grand opening is not until sometime in June. I am confident that in a short period of time and some better training, all these issues will be resolved. Because of these issues and their less than adequate wine list, I can only give Shula's 347 a four Dead Cow rating.
If you have the opportunity to pass through LAX, I highly recommend making an overnight reservation at the Sheraton Gateway LAX and reservations for dinner at Shula's 347. This is the only Shula's steak house on the west coast...and a must-visit for all lovers of Dead Cow. Enjoy!
ALL RATINGS FOR SHULA'S 347, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, STEAK HOUSE