You are first struck by the long and sophisticated bar, made of wood and black vinyl and brass and envy; heavy wooden beams loom overhead like a sailing ship's cabin. Started in 1953 and here in its current incarnation since 1970, Taylor's makes me wish I was old enough to have been coming here since before Cosmos were invented.
It's dim like Hades inside. Plush carpet and red booths abound, with a tall pepper grinder standing like a chess queen on every table. Paintings adorn the paneled walls. We are seated beneath an oil-on-canvas of a Flemish gentleman with a wry look on his face and an uncanny resemblance to Jeff Bridges.
We down a few well-made Manhattans, marveling at Porterhouses and T-Bones being paraded by on sizzling trays. We are pursuing a healthier lifestyle, but no tofu dish can ever smell like that grand, trumpeting-fanfare scent of red meat on metal.
Taylor's is a steak house but remembers that the color green exists in the world. We order the Fresh Asparagus, great beams of vegetable confidence with knots of burn, nicely rendered with a hollandaise sauce the way you remember it from those yacht trips during childhood*.
We are compelled to try other things. The Molly Dinner Salad is a sneer at modern mixed greens. A big, cruise-ship-threatening wedge of iceberg lettuce rises above the plate, dotted with chopped onion and tomato and nonchalantly crowned with a non-chunky bleu cheese. I do not care how devoid of vitamins it is, I love iceberg lettuce. It is simple, retrofitted perfection.
Bianca goes a little higher end with a quintet of Oysters on the Half Shell. Fresh, simplistic, clean, with a cocktail sauce that is first cousins with ketchup, but who cares? Bink, who could eat oysters daily, is happy.
This is Taylor's, don't forget, and their disclaimer says "Not responsible for well done steaks," so don't request your beef done to the color of grey leather. Coming to Taylor's and having nobody get steak is a little like ordering the "For Our Gringo Friends" cheeseburger at a Mexican restaurant. It might be good, but some sinning has been committed.
Their specialty is the Culotte, the tenderest part of the top sirloin, only two of which are cut from the steer (not the cow--the steer). It arrives brilliantly hissing on metal, criss-crossed with scars, bathing the center of the tongue with strong flavor, with enough fat for punctuation. It is astounding. Argentine beef may be a better source material, but what the Taylor's kitchen does to it is masterful, a meal that (this time) surpasses Carlitos Gardel.
You may get a baked potato with this, but Cottage Fries, as unique to potatoes as au gratin or scalloped, are the only thing that can stand up to this as an accomplice. Cut into thick chips but soft, with a little french-fry raspiness, they are made perfect with a dab of leftover hollandaise.
Bianca (the non-steak-eating half of our duo) keeps with the seafood scheme, ordering the special for that evening, Jumbo Scallops. They are robust rather than subtle, pillow-tender with a just-past-correct bit of blackened snap; they are served with a creamy ber blanc sauce, some of which I also steal for my cottage fries.
The sides are what they need to be, the have-meat-now-need-potatoes accompaniments: baked potato properly fluffy, peas and carrots filling out the right corners of the food groups.
We haven't much room, but there is a nice key lime pie, thick with crust and singing with tartness. We down it, too.
There is a private room in back for parties, and we expect to take advantage of that. Taylor's has its own lot, uneasily valeted.
* I never had a yacht trip during childhood. I'm merely assuming that this is what we Caucasians must have done back in the '50s, '60s and '70s when steak houses and gin martinis still held sway. Before we lost the Smooth.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), American, Mid-City/Koreatown )
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