If you want a mouthwatering steak in Orange County, you go to Fleming’s. It’s something I’ve learned over the past few months. Forget Ruth’s Chris, with their sizzling butter steaks. Blech. If you want a steak that is uncomplicated, that stands on its own merits, that doesn’t need to hide behind a sauce or gimmick, then you go to Fleming’s.
As you step into the perpetually-busy steakhouse, the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s dim. Very dim. The place is full of people and the steady thrum of diners-in-ecstasy ebbs and flows in the soft light. Your eyes adjust, and as you glance around, waiting for a hostess to seat you, you start to realize why the place is always so packed. Briskly polite servers weave expertly through the throng of people, and present scalding-hot plates of the most beautiful ruby-red meat you’ve ever seen.
At Fleming’s when you order a steak rare (as you should) it’s going to come gently seared. It’s going to have a light, delicate crust, and the inside is deep pink, like a good piece of seared tuna. When you cut into this steak, whether it’s New York strip, Filet Mignon, Porterhouse, or whatever, you’ll notice that it doesn’t look like typical beef. There are no fibers here. I feel like I know how to cook a flavorful, tender steak, and there are always the natural fibers of the beef! The steaks at Fleming’s are of such quality and aged so perfectly, that the soft warm pink inside is just completely smooth. That means it’s going to be the most tender peace of meat you’ve had.
The sides are served family style, and accompany the steak nicely. Fleming’s potatoes are the signature side, and come sliced thin, with cheese and the essence of jalapeno. These aren’t hot or spicy, but you can just pick up the hint of flavor there. The other side we tried for this meal was awesome: sautéed green beans and mushrooms. My family likes our vegetables a little “al dente” – a bit crispy, even after cooking. That’s exactly what we got with this side. The beans were crispy and still bright green, practically popping out of the dish. The mushrooms were moist and earthy, very good, with a hint of olive oil in the background. I Couldn’t get enough of those mushrooms.
All of this goodness is framed beautifully by Fleming’s kickass wine list. My dad and I enjoyed a velvety Merlot (mom went with a Chardonnay) with dinner that seemed to bring out the best in everything, including the boysenberry jam that came with the cheesecake at the end.
One last suggestion: if you can, try and get seating in the small, private dining room downstairs. It’s much more intimate and quiet. Through a side-door and down a hidden flight of stairs, you’d never even know it was down there, but being surrounded by bottles of expensive wine on the walls is rustic-feeling, and with the private little bar tucked into the corner, it’s a charming and cozy space.