Occupation: Advertising Sales President
Favorite Restaurant: Izzy's Steaks and Chops
Reviewed Izzy's Steaks and Chops: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Izzy’s is my favorite steakhouse in San Francisco. The experience, since the first time I went there 14 years ago, has always been the same excellent dinner. From the moment you walk in, it’s clear this is an old school steakhouse. It’s a neighborhood place that has been taking care of its own for almost 25 years. There’s a great energy you can feel from the patrons at the bar, either starting their first martini of the night or drinking one of the many good wines offered. The wood tables, the exclusive booths, the 100s of beer bottles on shelves tucked in up by the ceiling, the different sauces on shelves by the walls, and the faces of employees who are confident in the great service they provide their customers make every guest feel good about eating at Izzy’s.
I like to start with the prawn cocktail for $8.95, five jumbo shrimp with a great cocktail sauce that has a big lump of horseradish in the middle for an extra big kick. Despite the numerous steaks on the menu, I always get the same thing: the marinated skirt steak, medium. It’s a generous portion of skirt steak bursting with tons of flavor, thanks to the exceptional marinade. They’re happy to share the ingredients of the marinade, although I don’t try to replicate it at home, leaving the great taste to the times when I’m dining at Izzy’s. The marinade consists of many ingredients, but the soy, ginger, and maple syrup are the main things, making it such a flavorful steak. All entrees come with two sides dishes, making this restaurant an exception to the American a la carte (and a la expensive) steakhouse way. I love the Izzy’s Own Potatoes, their take on au gratin, and creamed spinach. They make the perfect complement to the flavorful steak. At $21.95 for the best skirt steak you’ll ever have and two tasty sides, you just can’t beat it.
They know how to make a good cocktail, so I start with a gin martini with extra olives. The wine list provides a nice offering of wines with good value, just like the food menu. There are many good wines by the glass too, which the waitstaff will recommend based on your steak. I had a glass of Zinfandel, which was perfect with my skirt steak. Unfortunately, due to the generous portions, I typically do not get dessert. I just don’t have room, but their Key lime pie is very good.
The service at Izzy’s has been excellent each of the numerous times I’ve dined there over the years. Whether I’m eating at the bar while watching a game on one of the two TVs, or dining in either the main room downstairs or upstairs, you're always treated to service with a smile and a joke or two. To me, I like frequenting a place when there’s a familiarity with the staff and many of them at Izzy’s have been there since the beginning. So if you’re looking for a great steak dinner at a reasonable price, Izzy’s in the Marina is the place to go! Just be sure someone in your party orders the marinated skirt steak, so you get to try its incredible flavor.
Occupation: Creative PR Firm, Owner
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: El Huarache Loco
Reviewed Izzy's Steaks and Chops: Sunday, September 11, 2011
Izzy’s was a totally new introduction for me. One of the things I love about Check, Please! Bay Area is that the show turns people on to new places that may not be part of the general restaurant buzz, which of course, being in the business, I hear a lot about. From the moment I walked in, I could tell this was a well-loved neighborhood spot. Having been a New Yorker for 13 years, it reminded me of some of the institutions there, like P.J. Clarke’s or my old standby, the Landmark Tavern. From the slogan above the bar, “Every day is a Friday at Izzy’s,” to the brass nameplates of faithful devotees like Tom Wolfe and George Aknin, among others, it clearly is a place with true San Francisco roots. The waiters look like something out of central casting, and their no-nonsense irony set the tone for a fun night. I was dining with a good friend from New York, whom I knew would enjoy the atmosphere, and he felt totally at home. While there were a few service bugs, i.e. their online reservation system wasn’t working yet, and Open Table didn’t show the San Francisco location, and there was also a bit of a lag when we first sat down in terms of attention, afterwards the service was just right: attentive, funny, and professional.
We decided to share plates among us, which is generally my custom when dining out. The heirloom tomato salad was spot-on with tri-colored juicy tomatoes seasoned just right with a simple vinaigrette. It was a large portion and plenty for three to share. The main courses and shared sides appeared quickly after our appetizer, however, everything was just a tad lukewarm vs. hot.
My marinated skirt steak had a delicious teriyaki marinade and was cooked just a tad over medium-rare, which is what I ordered, but it was delicious, and we had no leftovers from my portion. My companions had the Drunken Shrimp and the NY Sirloin Au Poivre. The shrimp were generous in portion, and the sauce was a creamy, spicy Cajun sauce that was tasty, albeit simple. The shrimp were just a tad overcooked but very fresh. The NY Sirloin was ordered medium rare, but arrived a bit more towards medium and had a bit of a tougher texture, not the most choice of cuts. The cream sauce was delicious and simple, just the right amount of piquancy. In terms of the sides, we LOVED the creamed spinach, it had a touch of nutmeg, I believe, and was sinfully rich and satisfying. My Four Square application tips suggested the Izzy’s Own Potatoes, and they were a cross between the cheesy goodness of a mac 'n' cheese and a gratin. Very addictive and good, but again, not hot and gooey enough. The onions and carrots were fine but very bland. The carrots were rough cut and large in portion, and I think they would benefit from a different presentation and seasoning. I love comfort food, but thought a little more flavor would go far. The steamed broccoli was the only healthy item we had, and it was perfectly simple and a welcome relief to the richness.
The place was crowded with families, Giants fans, single diners, male groups of friends…very convivial. It seemed as if there were a lot of regulars and the place had a steady buzz all evening. We finished our meal with a shared slice of NY Cheesecake with a berry coulis. It was a bit dry (I love my cheesecake really moist), but had good flavor. Our bill was only $160 for the three of us and considering the items and the number of things we ordered, we thought it a very fair bill, considering we had had five drinks as well. My boyfriend, who loves unpretentious local places, really liked it. We’ll be back and we want to try more on the menu. I'm curious to see what the person who chose it selected as their favorite dish.
Occupation: Registered Dietician and Marathon Runner
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Helmand Palace
Reviewed Izzy's Steaks and Chops: Friday, September 9, 2011
We arrived at Izzy’s at 6pm for an early dinner and although I walked to the restaurant, I did notice a sign that they validate parking -- a huge perk for the Marina area where parking is at a premium. As we were promptly escorted to our table in the main dining room, we passed the bar where happy-hour patrons appeared to be enjoying martinis and glasses of wine as they gabbed with the bartender. The wood panel interior coupled with the warm and friendly atmosphere made me feel as though I was dining at Cheers. In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Norm sitting on a stool at the bar!
Considering I was at a steakhouse, I thought it would only be appropriate to begin the evening with a martini. I will admit that I rarely imbibe hard alcohol and am not a connoisseur of martinis, but this went down smoothly and had extra olives -- just the way I like it. As I perused the menu, I was not surprised to see primarily beef and steak dishes. Although I tend to typically sway towards fish and seafood, I am a Chicago native and appreciate a good steak every once in a while.
As our waiter came to take our order, I asked if they had any specials for the evening. He indicated that they do not usually do specials, but they were featuring a seasonal heirloom tomato salad that would only be on the menu for a few more weeks. Considering I appreciate seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, I thought that the salad was a required order. My dining partner and I split the salad, and both of us appreciated that the kitchen divided the salad for us and served it on separate plates. The flavor of the heirloom tomatoes exploded in my mouth and was balanced perfectly with the olive oil and balsamic dressing that was drizzled on top. The salad had a goat cheese crostini that balanced the acidic dressing and sweet and juicy tomato perfectly. Unfortunately, the meal went a bit downhill from here. I had ordered the strip steak, and my dining companion chose the prime rib. Being used to top cuts of meat, I was disappointed with the amount of fat and the lack of tenderness in the beef. They both were chewy and lacked flavor.
The entrees came with two sides that you selected from a list of various vegetables and potatoes. Because I’m a vegetable lover, I asked if I could have broccoli and substitute a side Caesar salad in place of the listed options -- they were happy to accommodate. In addition to broccoli, my friend chose Izzy’s potatoes. Although the broccoli was perfectly cooked, the salad was a bit wilted and tasted like the dressing had been on it for hours. The Izzy’s potatoes reminded me of au gratin potatoes and had a rich creamy cheese sauce that was delicious, but too rich for more than a couple of bites.
As we were waiting for our check, we ran into two groups of our friends who were having dinner, making Izzy’s truly a neighborhood establishment where “everyone knows your name.” Overall, Izzy’s is an ideal steakhouse if you are looking for the Cheers-type atmosphere. Although the food may not be an A +, the wait staff gives you full attention and is willing to try and accommodate your dietary needs and alter dishes to your liking.