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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: 08 October 2005 (REVISIT)
OVERALL EXPERIENCE (5 is Best)
For some reason or another, another birthday came up. So using that as an excuse to hold another meeting of the Dead Cow Society, the ChiefMeatInspector and I decided to head over to Shula's 347 at the Sheraton LAX Gateway.
Since this is our second migration to Shula's 347 (see the first visit report here), I will not expand on many of the restaurant's details in this report. I will just cover the current issues and observations.
As is customary, we checked-in with the receptionist and then made a dash to the nearest two bar stools in the lounge for a pre-dinner libation. We ordered two glasses of wine from the lady bartender. It is interesting to note that as we ordered, a male bartender came over to talk to the lady bartender. So after placing our order, the two bartenders stood in front of us, talking. This went on for a few minutes before the lady bartender decided to pour our wine. Note to Bartenders: If we customers are bothering you, we would be happy to take our bar tabs elsewhere. Remember that at that moment in your life, I, the customer, am your only concern. Please act accordingly.
After our glass of wine (we had only one glass as we did not want to bother the bar staff for a refill), we were shown to our table. The table was a small two-top crammed into the corner of an otherwise empty restaurant. I hate small tables and this could not have been much smaller for two people. Note: I watched throughout the course of our meal where diners were seated. It appears that singles and duos were all placed at these small tables next to the wall. All the other larger tables and booths were held for larger parties. Some of these remained empty throughout our entire three-hour meal.
Our server happened to be the same waitress as our last visit. And she remembered us. (This could be good or this could be bad!) As she handed us the menus, she mentioned that there were some changes on the menu since our last visit. Gone was the prime rib and the 16-ounch New York strip. A new addition was lamb chops. Ok, I thought, maybe they are going to have an expanded selection of Dead Cow. After all, this is a steak house. But sadly, they only have three cuts of Dead Cow available: a 20-ounce bone-in Kansas City strip steak ($37.00), a center cut "cowboy" 22-ounce bone-in rib eye ($42.00), and a 10-ounce center cut filet ($34.00). I think a letter to Coach Shula is in order on this issue.
Both of their wine lists are about the same, unfortunately. Their "Reserve" list (the one with the 2002 Caymus "Special Select" cabernet for $290.00 and the 2001 Opus One for $300.00) and their regular list. The regular lists has, for example, five or six cabernets that average about $40 a bottle. So there is this major gap between the $40 cabernet and the "Reserve" list low-end cabernet at around $120. This gap is screaming to be filled with several available reds that can sell for around $60 to $70 and provide for a much more interesting dinner beverage.
Another change is that bread is now served. When we were last here, no bread was served or available. We learned that they went through a period where they "charged" for bread. (I would like to meet the rocket scientist who thought of this moronic idea.) Fortunately, they came to their senses and now serve a very nice sourdough.
So let's eat. The ChiefMeatInspector ordered The Wedge ($8.00), a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a nice, tart dressing, sprinkled with bacon and blue cheese. His entree was the 20-ounce bone-in Kansas City strip steak ($37.00) and sides of a large baked potato ($3.47...Yes, all sides are still only $3.47!) and garlic sauteed spinach ($3.47). I also ordered The Wedge, and opted for the center cut "cowboy" 22-ounce bone-in rib eye ($42.00). My sides were the smashed potatoes ($3.47) and the fresh steamed asparagus ($3.47). I know what you're thinking...and you're right. In retrospect, this is way too much food! The sides are large, and the Dead Cow plentiful. If you visit Shula's 347, you can do a better job on the quantity that we did! To wash down all this food, we ordered a 2001 Conn Creek cabernet ($45.00).
When the feast arrived, we rolled up our sleeves, put on our feeding bibs, and commenced to consume. The restaurant is now doing what the other (regular) Shula's do when your steak is placed in front of you. They have a guarantee that it is properly cooked to your request and ask you to cut into it while they hold a small flashlight on the Dead Cow. This is a nice Shula's touch and, as always, the Dead Cow was prepared exactly as requested. In fact, the whole meal was excellent. The best Dead Cow in America, in my opinion, and nicely prepared generous side dishes combine to make a good-tasting meal. Because it was the ChiefMeatInspector's birthday (Geeze, he's getting O-L-D!), the waitress brought us a complimentary order of molton lava chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. It was absolutely superb. To accompany the desert, we ordered coffee. This was a mistake. It was not only $4.00 a cup, but was terrible, lukewarm "beverage". If I were Shula's 347 management, I would be personally embarrassed to serve that warm colored water masquerading as coffee...and then actually charge four dollars for it. Too bad the Starbucks in the hotel lobby was closed. Note to Management: If you can't serve a cup of coffee that is worthy of that price, then don't serve any coffee at all. You only embarrass yourselves.
Other than the terrible coffee mentioned above, here are sill some issues at Shula's 347 that should be addressed. Attention to detail is important, especially in the service arena. While our server was exceptionally pleasant, she was forgetful. We asked if she had some balsamic vinegar and olive oil to accompany the bread. She said yes, but never brought it to us. The ChiefMeatInspector asked for his left-over Dead Cow to be placed in a doggie bag. The plates were cleared and stacked on top of the left-overs and we never saw the left-over Dead Cow again. When pouring my wine, I had to physically stop her as she passed the half-way point on the glass and appeared to have no intention of stopping any time soon. When she poured the other glass of wine, I again asked her to stop when a reasonable amount had been poured. (Their red wine glasses are excellent size and shape and can hold over 16-ounces.) These, as well as some other issues, all add up and contribute to the overall dining experience. These need to be addressed.
I am downgrading the overall rating for Shula's 347 to 3.5 Dead Cows. This decision is made because of their move away from traditional Shula's steak house menu items, as well as needing serious attention to detail in the service and wine selection areas. We'll see what happens on the next visit.
ALL RATINGS FOR SHULA'S 347, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, STEAK HOUSE