When you think about quality, one word that comes to mind is “prime.” That’s a word that is at the top of the list for the Arroyo Chop House in Pasadena. They proudly state that they are “the only restaurant in Southern California that serves, exclusively, the highest-grade of beef available, U.S.D.A. Prime.”
To understand what that means, of course, you need a definition. The term USDA Prime applies to about two percent of graded beef. It has more fat marbling, so it is the most tender and flavorful.
And it’s that difference that comes through in everything Arroyo Chop House does.
You see it in the decor, with fine art provided by the Stary-Sheets Fine Art Galleries. The restaurant has an old world feel to it, with white linens and quiet side rooms with French doors. Live, but understated piano music plays for the late dinner crowd.
You see it in the personnel. The proprietors have a theme of nothing but the best, and it shows. In fact, General Manager Patrick Kirchen describes Arroyo this way: “We’re a local joint. Upscale environment, yes, but we have a lot of regular guests who come in. They know our staff, and treat us like their second home. That’s what we try to create.”
And, you see it in the food.
For literal Starters, you can get Beef Tenderloin Tartar, served with caperberries and ciabatta toast, or Chop House Prime Chili. But, go for the gold!
The Porterhouse. The Filet Mignon, Petit Filet, or Bone-in-Filet. The T-Bone, New York, Kansas City New York, Ribeye, or Cowboy Ribeye. Prime Rib or Prime Beef Skewers, all the way to the Chop House Burger made from braised short ribs.
Add your choice of sauce—Peppercorn Sherry Cream, Bearnaise, or a Bleu Cheese Smoked Bacon Cabernet Reduction—and dig in. With respect, please. These steaks are, well, prime.
Not a steak lover? You can also get the “Fresh Fish of the Moment” or other seafood, including Australian Lobster Tail or Alaskan King Crab Legs. Rotisserie Chicken and Ahi Tuna are also featured entrees.
Advice: Be sure to try the Scallops Wrapped in Pancetta. First the sauce hits your tongue, then the scallop, then the bacon, with an exceptional mingling of flavors.
An extensive list of salads and side dishes are also available. We recommend the Caesar Salad prepared at the table for pure flavor experience, or get the Chopped Salad with bacon, blue cheese and crisp leeks, the Bibb Lettuce salad with Ash Goat Cheese and Heirloom cherry tomatoes, or the Grilled Asparagus with shaved parmesan and arugula.
For sides, choose among Mac & Cheese with Black Forest Ham, Fresh Caramelized Sweet Corn, Sugar Snap Peas, Lyonnaise Potatoes, Sauteed Mountain Mushrooms, Steamed Spinach with Caramelized Sweet Onions and Garlic, and more.
And for dessert, hands down its the Grand Marnier Chocolate Souffle, although it may be hard to pass on Baked Apple Pie or New York Cheesecake.
Arroyo considers itself part of the local community, and proves it with participation in various events, including the Fall Food & Wine Festival. Kirchen says, “Every year we close for a night and do a charity benefit.” It may be part of the reason that Arroyo thrives even in a tight economy. “We have such a loyal customer base,” says Kirchen. “It helps us avoid some of the pitfalls.”
They also winemaker dinners, in which local winemakers are available to answer questions and provide tastings. “It helps get the customer excited about something new,” says Kirchen.
He also attributes their success to the hospitality they offer. “We accommodate everyone, so people want to come here for their special occasions. It’s a restaurant people come to to celebrate—birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions. For our business clientele, it’s a place to entertain, or close a big deal.”
The restaurant is owned by brothers Bob and Gregg Smith, and is one of five that they own and operate. Each concept is unique; Arroyo is what they call “a classic American steak house.” Kirchen again emphasizes the quality of the beef, saying, “Every cut is graded prime. It’s a commitment to quality and excellence. We’ve never served a steak that wasn’t prime.”
In fact, he goes so far as to say, “Best quality, best flavor—that exemplifies what our restaurant is all about.”
Part of the secret, says Kirchen, is in the special broiler they use, with a heat reflecting system. “Instead of melting out, the marbling gets sealed into the beef. It contributes to the flavor and tenderness of the meat,” he says.
Most popular items on the menu are the filet and petite filet, with as many as 2500 served in a month. The filet, lightly crusted from being on the grill, is nothing short of succulent, with a certain ambiance added from being served on monogrammed plates with monogrammed steak knives.
Incidentally, Kirchen stays away from the sauces, as good as they are. He says, “I never put sauce on any of our steaks, although the ones we offer all complement the flavor. But, for me, let the flavor come through with just salt and pepper—it comes out amazing.” As for desserts, Kirchen says “The souffles are the most popular—even if you just had a 16 ounce filet and a salad!”
The restaurant consistently wins awards, and has been the winner of “best restaurant” and “best steakhouse” designations several times.
That’s what happens when quality, great staff, and amazing food meet. And, at Arroyo, it’s an experience we can only label “Prime.”
See our video from Arroyo Chop House here.
See our blog from the Los Angeles tour, Getting to Know You.
Visit Arroyo Chop House:
536 South Arroyo Parkway
Pasadena, CA 91105-2520
This is a Raves & Faves Featured Restaurant.