Adventurous small plates, dialed-in steaks make this Chandler newcomer a must-visit for East Valley meat enthusiasts.
People don’t generally visit steakhouses for gustatory adventure. Quite the opposite. They want comfortable settings and orthodox meat-and-starch menus, which subliminally reassure us that, in a world of dizzying upheaval, some things never change.
In the most obvious ways, Elliott’s Steakhouse in Chandler is no exception to the rule. Naturally, you’ll find steaks and spuds here, as well as martinis, deep booths and white tablecloths. And yet, this stunningly handsome newcomer, housed in a 100-year-old brick building, makes a real effort to breathe new life into a historically stodgy concept.
A huge part of its appeal is the graceful structure itself, a red-brick, two-story space that housed a movie theater for decades before its transformation into an elegant dining space. Fittingly, its look is rather dramatic. There’s a baby grand where live music is played on the weekends; a massive, arch-framed backbar, aglitter with bottles; and a sweeping staircase (evoking Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard) that leads to a cozy dining mezzanine overlooking the restaurant. Just like in the movies, it’s love at first sight.
Elliott’s is the third venue for partners Gavin Jacobs and Jackie Hall, who, along with Jackie’s husband Elliott (who passed away in 2022), also opened The Brickyard Downtown in 2016 and Hidden House in 2019. This venture, however, is significantly more upscale, featuring caviar, oysters on the half shell, the requisite seafood tower, prime beef from Chicago-based purveyor Linz and a wine list that includes many Old-World selections. A cocktail book (yes, book, these are the cocktail-driven folks from Hidden House, after all) features classics and signature cocktails given names inspired by moviedom.
Meals begin with bread service (warm and fluffy on one occasion, half-warmed and dry-edged the other) and a super fun trio of flavored butters: lemon, hickory and truffle. Grilled country loaf accompanies an appetizer of beef tartare, tucked inside a marrow bone along with capers, a runny sous vide egg and charred chimichurri – a fussy dish that’s too clever by half. Fatty marrow takes away from the lean purity of the tartare.
Hanoi scallops, beautifully browned, are clever in a good way, set against a backdrop of cauliflower purée with curried cashews and nuggets of glazed pork belly for crunchy, salty counterpoint. There’s even a cute little turmeric tuile. But my favorite starter is prosciutto-wrapped lobster medallions set over creamy pools of miso sabayon (a light, faintly sweet custard with umami undertow). Pickled Fresno chiles add pop, and snap peas bring freshness. Next time, I won’t share this salty-sweet bit of luxury.
Basil meringue is the lure for a riff on the Caprese salad: a creamy glob of burrata strewn with pink peppercorns and fresh basil, propped up with crostini and tomatoes. The fun is in the streaks, dots and drips of sweetish meringue, basil oil and balsamic.
Not surprisingly, steaks are the high point. Both a 32-ounce, dry-aged bone-in tomahawk ribeye and a 6-ounce filet mignon are nicely charred and cooked to temperature, the meat in each case flavorful and meltingly tender. The menu offers add-ons (earthy, spicy Sonoran wet rub, for example) and sauces – say, peppercorn brandy or bone marrow butter – to heighten the experience.
The sides, however, need tweaking. They’re reasonably priced, but the portions are small and the quality is lacking. Better preparations, please, for sautéed mushrooms (dry and plain) and potatoes au gratin, which don’t look or taste as cheesy and gooey as they should. Fluffy mashed potatoes are the best of the lot, but all of them need to feel more decadent.
Short rib mafaldine, its richness cut by tangy goat cheese, is a little heavy on marinara, but still meaty and satisfying. And although brown butter lobster is a heavenly combo of al dente lumache (ridged, shell-shaped pasta), corn, bacon and crumbly cotija cheese, it needs something more than brown butter – or at least more brown butter! – to pull it all together. Lemon would help, too.
Finally, the cleverly wrought banana split dessert is a split in name only, combining banana mousse, vanilla gelato, graham cracker crumbles, caramel, chocolate ganache and macerated berries. I’ll take this fanciful bit of fun over the original any day.
Given that Elliott’s has been open a scant six weeks at the time of this writing, it seems likely the restaurant will evolve, and many of the kinks noted here will be worked out. But here’s the bottom line: When a menu is filled with high-ticket items, and meals quickly climb to hundreds of dollars, every detail counts. Fifty-dollar entrées should be flawless, not works in progress. I have little doubt Elliott’s will get there. In the meantime, it’s still the best restaurant downtown Chandler has seen in many a moon.
- Cuisine: American Steakhouse
- Contact: 81 W. Boston St., Chandler, 480-474-4155, elliottssteakhouse.com
- Hours: Su-Th 3-10 p.m., F-Sa 3-11 p.m.
- Highlights: Prosciutto-wrapped lobster medallions ($34); Hanoi scallops ($28); dry-aged tomahawk ribeye (market price); brown butter lobster ($52); banana split ($12)