At Matū in Beverly Hills, I learned there is a difference between a steakhouse and a steak restaurant. Unlike a steakhouse, the newer steak restaurant concept at Matū offers a multi-course dining experience, showcasing First Light Farms exceptional Wagyu beef.
Matū is a Māori (Indigenous New Zealand) word that means “essence, the gist of the matter, richness.” Wagyu cattle eating only grass on pastures, with no grain ever, create a balance of taste and texture like no other beef. Our Wagyu is not the ultra-rich A5 Kobe, nor does it intend to be.
Ryan Gianola leads the front of the front house efficiently and Chef Scott Linder focuses the wood fire kitchen. A “franken-grill” with heat sensors measures the temperature variances of the licks of fire and sizzle of the steak.
Diners can order a la carte or select from a variety of multi-course dinners. This option showcases various cuts of the finest Wagyu meat prepared in a variety of different methods.
The dark, candle lit dining room divided in the center by a long row of seating banquettes creating a romantic ambiance. I appreciated when our server brought us a bottle of filtered water and didn’t pressure us to purchase a designer sparkling or still bottle of water.
I like how the servers educate diners about the menu. Each table may order more than one Wagyu dinner without the same number of courses. These servers are knowledgeable in making wine recommendations too. I enjoyed a glass of Matū Reserve 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon made at Atlas Peak Winery in Napa. The high altitudes, specific soils and unique climate are conducive for growing premium Cabernet Sauvignon.
Other wines on the list include Bordeaux, Pinot Noir, Malbec and Burgundy. Those who prefer white wine will enjoy a buttery Chardonnay by Jordan Winery or a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc by Meltwater, which Matū imports directly. They also offer some festive sparkling wines. Oenophiles will appreciate bottles from some of the finest wineries including Harlan Estates, Quintarelli, Promontory, Colgin Cellars and Tusk Estates.
The first course of the Matū Dinner for two is a ceramic cup filled with bone broth. This is not a gelatinous broth, but a smooth chocolate brown color that has been simmering for 24 hours. Our server recommended that we slip it slowly to enjoy a hint of citrus yuzu, a splash of soy and touch of ginger flavors.
Next to arrive was a plate of steak tartare heightened with Japanese spice, an egg yolk and a spoonful of chives in the center. We mixed this with the raw beef before scooping it with two thin slices of toasted bread. Guests can substitute this course with a salad.
Our third course arrived with a salad, but not any ordinary salad. The 47 Salad is made with crisp Little Gem leaves and dressed with savory vinaigrette. It’s served with slices of three ounce center cut filet cooked “warm red” throughout. I found the meat tender and flavorful.
The next course was a plate with a beef cheek that had been braised for at least 8 hours and placed on an earthy celeriac puree. I swirled each forkful of the buttery beef into the creamy puree before taking a bite.
Two heated share plates were delivered to our table with a 12 oz. ribeye that had a side plate of broccolini. Our server pointed out the two different parts of the ribeye – the eye and the cap, which the kitchen slices separately. The slightly charred greens had a sprinkling of garlic, red pepper flakes and a tad too much salt to my liking. We couldn’t finish this large portion course, and asked for a box to bring it home and make steak sandwiches the next day.
I recommend two starters for those ordering a la carte: the Japanese Caesar and shrimp cocktail. The salad is a perfect rectangle of crisp iceberg lettuce with a white cap of dressing made with yuzu spice, citrus spice, Japanese peppers and a hint of anchovies. Four jumbo shrimp with a tangy horseradish sauce comprise the shrimp cocktail.
Besides an array of steaks on the menu, there are also a few seafood entrees, including wood-fired branzino and lobster tails caramelized with garlic butter and a Japanese yuzu-kosho fermented paste made with yuzu peel, chili peppers and salt.
We finished the evening with one of the moistest flourless chocolate cakes I have ever tasteded. It was room temperature and dusted with powdered sugar and cocoa powder. So many flourless chocolate cakes at other restaurants are dense and served cold, this one offered a soft and creamier consistency, almost like a delicious chocolate mousse.
For a new steak restaurant dining experience that celebrates the richness of exceptional New Zealand Wagyu beef in a variety of preparation methods, make a reservation at Matū is Beverly Hills. The restaurant is open nightly at 5:30 p.m. $$-$$$ 239 S. Beverly Drive, (424)317-5031.