EXTRA TREAT: LB Steak's maple-glazed pork belly is topped with a fried egg.

There is is nothing very romantic about a raw cut of beef. The exception comes when great care and presentation meld, producing a dining experience that truly is romantic and memorable. This can be said of LB Steak on Santana Row, a restaurant that meets any expectation of what a fine steakhouse can be, while remaining enjoyably affordable.

Executive chef Thomas Ricci, a veteran of Santana Row, where he recently left the head position at Village California Bistro, is familiar with the expectations of the Row’s patrons. Upon entering, you are greeted by a impressively decorated dining room: dark wood everywhere sets a luxurious scene and a large, frosted-glass sliding door teasingly lets you catch a glimpse back into the gleaming clean kitchen.

For drinks, the restaurant has an extensive wine list, ranging from plenty of locals to Argentinian and Old World varieties. However, I suggest starting with the Manfashioned ($12), an update on the always-classic bourbon cocktail that adds the sweet orange essence of Grand Marnier.

The appetizer menu runs the gamut from a sweet-smoky cut of maple-glazed pork belly, with tamarind gastrique over a savory bread pudding topped by a fresh fried egg, to a freshly prepared tartare of prime beef ($15) served alongside crispy house-made kettle chips. LB also serves a classic French onion soup ($7) topped with tangy Emmenthal cheese.

Of course, the main attraction here is steak. The choices include a 12-ounce prime rib-eye ($35) and a 32-ounce bone-in “Tomahawk Chop” ($66). The restaurant has a steak for patrons with varying tastes and pocket depth. A 12-ounce dry-aged rib-eye ($45) was exceptionally tasty and is a must for first-timers to experience the flavor of dry-aged meat. After being properly rested (as any good meat should be), steaks arrive on cast-iron pans. Don’t be alarmed that your pan isn’t sizzling like a fajita special; its purpose is more for ambience.

A classic B-arnaise and a green peppercorn sauce, as well as a red wine and teriyaki sauce, are available for $2 extra. Shareable-sized side dishes such as a hearty, loaded potato gratin, which arrives bubbling away in a hot cast-iron vessel, complete the meal.

The dining room can be boisterously loud at times, but perhaps that is an indication that everyone is having a good time. LB Steak is located directly across from Valley Fair mall and has an additional location in Menlo Park.

LB Steak
334 Santana Row, Suite 1000, San Jose; 408.244.1180