One of Downtown San Diego’s most popular restaurants has come to La Jolla: The La Jolla Strip Club joins the superior quality of prime-cut steaks with the casual appeal of a grill-it-yourself lounge for the ultimate carnivorous experience. The Strip Club’s extensive lunch menu offers a mouth-watering array of salads, sandwiches, and pastas, while the dinner menu presents a tantalizing selection of 21-day-aged, Midwestern, corn-fed Angus beef cuts that range in size from 10-20 oz. The impressive dessert list is also worth checking out – with Naughty Treats like the Rated “R” Root Beer Float with root beer flavored vodka, amaretto, and vanilla ice cream, who can resist? Please note that all patrons must be 21 or older to dine.Read More ...
The La Jolla Strip Club is the newest restaurant in the Cohn Group and the sister restaurant of the Gaslamp Strip Club. People who might’ve seen one of the few ads for the new location may think that it’s simply a clone of the original restaurant placed in North County for convenience. While the new UTC location is much more accessible to north county residents, it was also a chance for Head Chef/General Manager/Co-Owner James Stephenson to improve upon the original concept of the Gaslamp location, as well as to shake up the restaurant scene of La Jolla. If you hadn’t heard, the concept of the Strip Club is “make your own steak,” meaning that you order the cut, then cook it yourself on one of the many large grills located around the restaurant. Stephenson hopes this concept will provide an alternative to the traditional steakhouses in the area.
La Jolla Strip Club is located off of La Jolla Village Drive, on the UTC side of the Interstate 5 freeway. It currently occupies the space where another San Diego favorite, Trophy’s, used to reside. Arriving at 6:00pm on a Thursday night, I am astounded to find that the Strip Club’s rather large parking lot, and the surrounding street parking, is almost full -- uncharacteristic for most restaurants on a week night. Immediately after walking through the revolving front door I am greeted by a friendly staff, a decadent chandelier, and the sounds of many people having a good time.
Through a small wine trellis I can see the bar area, crowded with people and adorned with over 100 brands of vodka. There are also plenty of people seated at the many black and red leather booths that are conveniently situated around a handful of large chrome grills with large chrome hoods; as I am informed later, the grills are twice the size of the ones at the Gaslamp location to allow for shorter lines. The walls are adorned with paintings and printings of vintage pin-up girls, characteristic of the restaurant’s tastefully sexy and fun theme. Even the bathrooms maintain a sexy vibe, with shadow dancers gyrating in video screens implanted in the chrome-edged mirrors; and I’ve heard they’re in the women’s room as well. There is also a separate indoor patio area with leather recliners, flat-screen TVs, and two custom-made black and red pool tables. In addition to the decorations, the La Jolla Strip Club also serves up many enticing offers that keep customers coming back, even in the first month of operation. On the night of my visit, Chef Stephenson is presenting guests with the best Lobster Street Tacos I’ve ever had.
I am seated in a spacious booth with a decorative zebra stripe-style lamp hanging above the table. My server’s name is Lana, and she takes excellent care of me throughout the meal. With such a swanky and contemporary decor, I expected the clientele to be primarily young males. To the contrary, there is a diverse range of guests from the required 21-years-of-age to a slightly older crowd, and a surprising amount of couples out for a romantic evening. When I ask Chef Stephenson about this, he tells me that many women enjoy coming to the restaurant, having a drink, and having their partners cook their food for them.
The first dish to arrive is a Shrimp Cocktail, with whole shrimp served around the rim of a martini glass containing the cocktail sauce. The seemingly ordinary shrimp cocktail is anything but; the shrimp are quite large, plump, and full of flavor from the first bite. In fact, they are so plump they have the same texture as a meaty chicken breast. While they are full of flavor on their own, the shrimp taste even better with the cocktail sauce, complete with tiny bits of tasty green onion on top. The sauce has a strong tomato flavor with a little kick of hot sauce. It takes three normal bites to finish just one shrimp, and with the cocktail sauce they disappear quickly from the rim of the glass.
As soon as the last shrimp is finished my next dish arrives: Fried Calamari Rings in a Thai Chili Sauce. The breading on the calamari is excellent; it’s crispy and seasoned without being the slightest bit greasy or mushy, or having a funny aftertaste like some batters have. The sauce is both sweet and spicy, with little flecks of red chili and green onion visible throughout. The breading and the sauce are superb; however, the one thing that both my dining companion and I find most incredible is that this is the best calamari we have ever had. It transcends the taste and texture of ordinary calamari and becomes almost like a new meat. It tastes like steak and chicken fused into one, without the seafood taste that most calamari dishes have. It has all the positives of well cooked calamari without any negative characteristics at all; and when the exquisite taste of the calamari is combined with the light, crispy breading and the delectable sauce, it forms a superb dish. Even with the abundance of mouth-watering dishes that come after, my dining companion continues to pick at this dish throughout dinner until all that is left is a film of chili sauce on the bottom of the plate.
Though the food is delicious, I am aching to be able to fire up the grill and cook something for myself; no sooner do I think it than my wish is granted. The first raw dish to arrive is a plate of 12 ounce Double Chicken Breast; they have been prepped to remove the skin and bones, and are marinated in balsamic vinegar and sprinkled on top with an herb rub containing basil, rosemary, and thyme. With so much marinade and herbs on the raw chicken, I decide not to add any seasoning or sauce when grilling, and I’m glad I did. I cook my chicken until slightly crispy on the outside yet still juicy and tender on the inside. After grilling, the balsamic vinegar marinade takes on a very subtle taste in the chicken, while the herb rub excellently complements the natural taste of the premium chicken. The Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes that come after the chicken is cooked are the ideal side dish; the garlic of the potatoes and herbs on the chicken blend together to create a unique flavor. Buyer Beware: The side dishes are served family-style and are so large I’d recommend sharing them with a few people.
The next dish to come to the table doesn’t require much cooking at all: 8 ounces of Sushi Grade Ahi Tuna marinated in a flavorful Asian peanut sauce. Since my dining companion has more experience in cooking fish, I let him step up to the grill. We decide to sear the tuna and I think his grilling expertise helps bring out as much flavor as possible in this fresh and thick fish. Lightly searing it on the outside grills the nutty and sweet marinade into the filet, while leaving the inside raw and flavorful. The tuna is served with a side of wasabi and soy, but I find it unnecessary considering the abundance of flavor from the marinade and the natural flavor of the fish. Bite after bite reminds me of once fishing for tuna off the San Diego coast and lightly grilling it on the back of the boat as we headed home.
The final dish to be grilled is the Strip Club’s signature cut: A 12 ounce La Jolla New York Strip Steak. Even before grilling, it appears thick and tender, and my dining companion and I decide to utilize some of the seasonings available on the side of the grill. I cook the steak medium, attempting to sear the seasonings into the outside of the steak while leaving the inside tender and flavorful, much the same as the Ahi Tuna. I achieve my goal fairly well (if I do say so myself) and the inside of the steak is light pink and a little charred on the outside. Overall the steak is amazing and delicious; a rare find at any restaurant, especially for under $20.
In passing conversation, when the raw steak is being brought to the table, Chef Stephenson mentions that he doesn’t believe in steak sauce, and I concur. He says that steak sauce was invented in the time before refrigerators and slightly more advanced food preservation methods, in order to mask the taste of inferior or aged meat. I agree that steak sauces like A-1 just distract from the natural flavor of good, well cooked steak; that is until I sample the Strip Club’s signature steak sauce that sits at every table in the restaurant. Unlike other steak sauces that seem to mask the taste of the meat, this sauce actually complements the taste of steak in every way without overshadowing the taste. It is salty and a little sweet, with a spicy kick a little milder than hot sauce.
This feast lasted a few hours; and even though I ate as much as my body would physically allow me, there is still quite a bit of food left on the table. I manage a wave to the polite and smiling staff as I struggle to push my way through the revolving door, and I think about how much I’d like to come back. These days it seems like people have to choose between good food, good drinks, or a fun atmosphere; not so at the Strip Club. It’s both fun and tasteful, and both elegant and lively. Chef Stephenson has managed to improve upon the flawless concept created at the Gaslamp Strip Club and created a restaurant as unique as San Diego itself.
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Great place to bring the work team...gathered together from the US and Asia for a series of meetings in San Diego. The restaurant was a great place to kick things off, pre-drinks, cool own food if we wanted to, and enjoy a great meal. All made better by the flexible and fun staff, making this a very good experience. We'll be back for sure.
Fun atmosphere. Great place for a group gathering. Impressive wine list, without breaking the bank. Would definitely go back again.
This is a great place to have fun cooking your own steaks with friends. It is a bit pricey, so it warrants special occasions, not normal dining for me. The service, food and atmosphere was great!