I See Midwestern People

I know exactly why we went to the Disneyland Hotel's Steakhouse 55: I was lazy, and it was close by, and I'd stumbled on a press release, deep in my inbox, from a Disney flack letting us know the former Granville's was now host to chef de cuisine Jason Martin and had been retooled, all classy-like, with black and white photos of stars from the '50s.

And so there would be an expensive dinner to wash away the ennui of our typical Wednesday.

Sadly, despite our hundreds of dollars on dinner for three, our ennui remained unmolested.

On a good note, the large black-and-white photos that graced the sepia-toned room, though of stars unrecognizable to anyone younger than Art Linkletter, portrayed said stars seated at tables. Tables like ours! And in 50 years, maybe we'd be unremembered too!

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On a bad note, our hundreds of dollars bought us unremarkable food haphazardly presented, and some of it was boiled—perhaps to keep Disney's Midwestern tourists feeling the comfort of home. I have a roommate who boils her food: she is 24 years old, and from Michigan.

On a good note, the service was excellent.

On a bad note, I think I may have brought both copies of my credit card receipt home, in which case our excellent waiter didn't get his good tip. If you were my waiter, please give me a call.


Things began well, with a large $10 crab cake (yes, just one), its accompanying red pepper and saffron sauce splayed across the plate in a pattern that could have been made by spirograph. We also enjoyed a meaty Portobello mushroom appetizer garnished with red and yellow peppers that had caramelized into chunky sweetness and echoed the colors of the crab cake plate. A few slices of seared ahi were bland, the fish's flavor cooked right out and only partly returned with its studs of peppercorn and wasabi froth. The wine pour was a miserly third of a glass, ensuring that a second one—at anywhere from $10 to $30—would be ordered.

The entrees were frustrating; each was almost right, but then totally off. Rack of lamb, still attached to its sad little baby bones, was a perfect mix of crackling fat and tender meat but was overpowered with a sauce that seemed to consist mostly of mustard. The special that night—a steak on a bed of gnocchi—was smothered with a blanket of purplish sauce that must have been half an inch thick. The gnocchi, while not awful (I've had gnocchi with the density of gallstones) was only fine. It wasn't, say, the puffy clouds of potato one can dine on at Aire. And the dish's presentation, too, was unartful, the plate too big for what should have been a bounteous mound of the dumplings, leaving them sad and stranded and topped by this scary plum meat. The Australian lobster tail was delicious, as most things dunked in butter are, and as one would hope for a cool $46. It came ungarnished, of course.

As with every steakhouse, vegetables are ordered, and paid for, separately. The spinach was impeccable. (And probably dunked in butter, too.) And the asparagus was boiled, thick as treetrunks, and covered in a cheese that looked like Velveeta, though I'll assume it was Boursin or something, instead.

A rustic-style tart wasn't pretty but was very good.

I know Steakhouse 55 is for tourists who don't know where to go, and lo, there's a fancy place right in the lobby! Rent a car and drive to Fleming's instead. That way you can hit Fashion Island, too, and observe the Newporters in their native habitat. Everything goes better with breasts.

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Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

455 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660



Steakhouse 55

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