As a Christmas gift, my team of workers gave me a gift card for Yanni’s, a new restaurant open in my office’s neighborhood. Yanni’s is primarily a place for steak, in the mold of Milwaukee classics like the Five O’Clock Club, but rather more upscale, as befits it east-of-the river location downtown. Journal-Sentinel restaurant critic Dennis Getto had reviewed the place in November, and given it an excellent review. He was particularly laudatory of the steaks, which are “dry-aged”. This process is supposed to concentrate flavor and increase tenderness. Georgie ordered a petit tenderloin, and I splurged on the “surf and turf” (hey, it was paid for). The S&T includes a 12-ounce tenderloin as well as a lobster tail. While certainly not bad, I didn’t find it anything to shout about. Certainly the steak was very tender, but was actually curiously lacking in flavor. I noticed that Getto had his “crusted” with Parmesan cheese. I’ve fancy steaks with cheese on before, and, while good, for flavor’s sake it might as well have been a cheeseburger, so I’m not sure how accurate a description of the meat taste might have been. On the other hand, there is nothing so variable as steak. One steer might be tender, and another from the same lot be tough. I wasn’t really impressed with the lobster tail either—in this case it was just a touch too cooked, and therefore a bit rubbery on top, and a bit underdone on the bottom.
We tried a couple of the other things Getto recommended, and they were as good as advertised. The crab cake appetizers were very good, and the apple pie dessert was very tasty, had a nice pastry texture, and was nicely, and unusually, spiced. And, yes, an order of apple pie is an entire 8” pie, not just a piece of pie. Needless to say, we took a lot home with us.
The place was very busy for Wednesday night, even though at six PM we were some of the first people in the dining room. By the time we had entrees, the room was full. Service seemed slow—it was 8PM before we left, and I asked for the check when our dessert came. I could understand the pacing somewhat—the portions are massive and one would need time to deal with them if you ate it all. A side order of mashed potatoes would serve four, and the surf and turf was garnished with, I kid you not, a quarter of a pineapple. However, it seemed to take a long time just for the appetizers to come, and things never caught up after that.
Be warned that this place is not cheap: Steaks alone are in the $25.00 range, other things are ala carte, and the surf and turf (“market price” lobster) came to $70.00 plus, which makes it the single most expensive entrée I’ve ever had. My opinion is that, for that money, I can get better elsewhere.