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Food

Dine LA: The Palm Downtown

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The sirloin at The Palm was red, tender and juicy -- a vegetarian's nightmare.

After a rocky start, my DineLA restaurant experience last week at The Palm Downtown had a happy ending. (Unlike my fellow LAisters who, unfortunately, didn’t.)

When The Palm was first listed on the restaurant week website, a friend noticed that they only served lunch. Fine. The best restaurants on the list probably didn’t need to entice a dinner crowd. But when we checked the original menu listed, there wasn’t a steak choice. Say whaa? There was a fish dish, a risotto and something else. Maybe chicken? Now when you go to a place like Ruth’s Chris, Morton’s or The Palm, you generally don’t go for the chicken. Hello…it’s a steak place. A red meat-eater’s dream. That was strike one.

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But the restaurant wised up and for some reason – a steak choice appeared on the menu. Perfect. We made an early reservation on Tuesday, and now nothing else could go wrong. Right? Riiight. Nothing but a little ol’ bomb scare. Yeah, strike two.

We found that a few city blocks were closed off right near Staples before our 11:30 lunch. Getting to the valet was impossible (as if navigating Downtown’s one-way streets wasn’t bad enough.). The officers wouldn’t even let pedestrians walk down certain streets, so I pretty much thought all was lost. The DineLA experience didn’t matter as much as my friend’s birthday lunch. But somewhere off Flower, we found a little alley that wasn’t yellow police-taped and made it to the restaurant at 11:57. We didn’t lose the reservation because the place was still empty. A bomb scare will do that, it seems.

But now, let’s get down to business and talk food:

The Palm offered a three-course meal for $22. The appetizer choices were a mixed green salad, a Caesar salad or a clear onion soup. We opted for the mixed green salad, which was served cold, not to heavy on the Italian dressing. I wasn’t crazy about it, but at least it was a step up above the usual wedge salads offered at steak places. (But then again, I’m biased because I think eating iceberg lettuce is a complete waste of time and energy.)

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The key lime pie was sublime at The Palm.

The second course choices--the featured attractions--were Prosciutto Wrapped "Martha's Vineyard" sea scallops with hoisin BBQ sauce and broccoli; prime aged top sirloin steak with caramelized onions, wild mushrooms and bordelaise sauce; and wasabi crusted ahi tuna steak with seaweed salad, pickled ginger and soy vinaigrette. Naturally, we both opted for the sirloin. And what a great choice it was. (Veggies and vegans...you might want to skip the next paragraph.)

While we asked for the meat cooked medium, it came out a little more red than pink. But it didn’t matter. The portion was generous, the meat was tender and juicy thanks, in part, to the bordelaise; and the grilled onions and mushrooms in the sauce only accentuated the explosion of flavor on the tongue. (And such an indulgent lunch in the middle of the workweek didn't make me feel that guilty because sirloin is one of the leaner cuts of the cow.)

Now, while we could have stopped there easily, there was a dessert coming: key lime pie. I’m not a big fan of the dessert’s sharp tartness usually, but this version was exceptional. The filling was smooth as silk, and the tartness was off set by the thicker graham cracker crust. The coffee – though I forgot to ask what kind of blend – was the kind that makes you wonder why you still go to Starbucks.

Although Restaurant Week is over, The Palm’s steak is worth a return trip the next time I crave red meat – even when not paying $22 for a three-course meal.

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The Palm
1100 S. Flower St.
Downtown Los Angeles
213.763.4600

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These pickles and radishes are unwieldy to eat...why do some steakhouses still serve them up?

Photos by Christine N. Ziemba/LAist.