STK – A Whole Lot More than Steak [My Full Review]

the cloud cotton candy dessert at stk steakhouse san diego

I walked into a steakhouse in the Andaz Hotel in the historic Gaslamp Quarter. I soon learned it was no ordinary steak house and it was a whole lot more than steak. 

It’s STK.

The dining room was surrounded by large windows, white panel ceilings, and horns sticking out of the white brick wall atop the bar. I was then greeted by the hostess who unfortunately didn’t have my reservation, but the STK team sprung into action and it was quickly resolved.

stk san diego restaurant inside
The main dining area and the bar at STK San Diego.

Perhaps I also felt that way because I was distracted by the modern art and chic decor.

The bright pops of color from fresh white florals and cream leather booths contrasted against the dark surfaces. Soft purple lights illuminated the entire 8,636-square foot space. Situated in the back are two private rooms that are ideal for parties seeking more intimacy. On most days, you’ll find a DJ in the corner spinning upbeat music that’ll make you feel like you’re in an exclusive club.

The hostess who had greeted me returned and explained what to expect within the chef’s tasting menu- the STK staples and dishes unique to this location using locally sourced ingredients. Her energy and enthusiasm made me even more excited than I was to begin with. She walked me through the cocktails and the extensive wine menu, but ultimately gushed over the “Cucumber Stiletto” and the “Not Your Daddy’s Manhattan”. So I started off with those and was not disappointed.

Shortly after this, two salads and a starter made their way to the table.

When I saw these plates, I thought to myself, “These can’t be salads”. And then I wondered “Well, what exactly is the definition of a salad?” A mere afterthought? An often tasteless blend of sad greens? A dish society has trained us into eating out of guilt, as a way to make ourselves feel better for stuffing our faces with tasty carbs and grease?

These plates couldn’t be any more different.

Heirloom tomatoes with burrata cheese, micro greens, and frisee lettuce drizzled in a balsamic glaze, topped with a thin crispy slice of herb potato. The frisee lettuce’s slightly bitter taste was a tad overpowering, but it was phenomenal when combined with the glaze, fresh burrata cheese and sweet tomatoes!

Chopped radacchio with spinach, cherry tomatoes, hearts of palm, Spanish olives, and toasted pistachio come lightly drizzled in a champagne vinaigrette. There were a lot of ingredients in this but STK made it work.

Beef carpaccio topped with crisp arugula, the softest roasted red beets, cashew pesto, and sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese. This salad was completed with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and red wine vinaigrette.

Dear Lord. These salads were amazing and I felt lucky to come in time for these new additions to the seasonal menu. In an extremely rare case of wanting to finish my salad, I had to restrain myself from eating all three plates to save room for what would come next.

The Entrees.

The Filet Mignon was the leanest on STK’s menu of 10 cuts of steaks. You can’t go wrong with a tasty classic like this. Pair it with STK sauce, an original blend of STK’s secret ingredients and A1 steak sauce to deepen the flavor.

Roasted “Mary’s” Chicken laid on a bed of firm herb gnocchi, root vegetables and pearl onions bathed in a truffle chicken au jus and truffle oil. The chicken was crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. STK kept this one simple, highlighting the natural flavors of this free-range chicken.

Herb Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna with potatoes, cherry tomatoes, pickled fennel, micro greens and a pepper coulis. This dish had the best presentation but the ahi tuna was a bit overcooked for my taste. Pro Tip: Order a notch below what you would normally get.

Definitely not side bae’s.

The sides were so delicious and not at all overshadowed by the entrees. This was comfort food at its finest.

The House Mac & Cheese had a glorious cheesy crust and a rich blend of creamy macaroni underneath. This classic was simple yet so good that I can’t imagine what their Lobster Mac and Cheese tastes like.

The sweet Corn Pudding was a delicate balance of sugary and buttery flavors, almost like a candied yam, but with a creamy consistency and crunchiness of corn.

The Tater Tots deserved a grander name than what its given. Inside, outside, and all around, the texture was more similar to a croquette. The tots were comprised of three different cheeses and lightly coated in more cheese.

Throughout our meal, the executive sous chef checked in a few times and was the most lively person I interacted with there. It could be because he was recently recruited there, but you could see it in his eyes and taste it in the food he prepared. He was excited to be there and genuinely wanted to know our thoughts!

Crowd pleasers.

And to wrap up the experience, the executive sous chef circled back with eye candy. “#TheCloud” as named for the giant cloud of pink cotton candy you’ll see from across the room. Then you’ll see the splatter of magenta sauce and a vanilla cake with toasted cream that will instantly make you pull out your phone. The second dessert of a variety of donuts is not as ostentatious but equally delicious and dripped raspberry and hot fudge sauce.

A whole lot more than steak.

Come for the steak or come for the cocktails, you might just bump into the Kardashians or P. Diddy here. I did come to STK for the steak but learned it was a whole lot more than steak- it’s the impeccable service, energetic staff, lively atmosphere, the drinks, and of course the food. The food was so fun, bold and tasty, that you’ll need to make sure not to get carried away with ordering everything (Entrees: $30-80). There is one exception though- definitely try all of the salads on the next seasonal menu.

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