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Douglas Keane’s Shimo Brings “Modern Steak” to Healdsburg

Douglas Keane and Nick Peyton can smile about Shimo

When was the last time you had a $195 steak? With the opening of Shimo Modern Steak in downtown Healdsburg this past Friday night, you now can, rounded out with an oyster appetizer ($16), a romaine salad ($13), and a side of cauliflower gratin ($11).

Yet Shimo being the work of Cyrus owners Douglas Keane and Nick Peyton, it’s not just any steak dinner. Shimo is a reference to the Japanese word for “frost” that is also used to describe beef marbling, and this high-end steakhouse offers the highest grade meat, accented with Asian influences.

It also offers a different approach to traditional steakhouse dining, in that the meat, while the centerpiece of the meal, isn’t the massive cut that most restaurants serve.

“I have often thought that steakhouse portions are too big, and that six to ten ounces of high quality protein is plenty to satiate most people,” says Keane. To that end, most of Shimo’s steaks are larger cuts of meat, but are intended to be shared by two or more diners.

The $195 steak, for example, is a 48-ounce dry-aged Allen Brothers Porterhouse that feeds four, while a Tomahawk rib eye, that at $128 a la carte seems pricey, but is 34 ounces and designed for three people to share. For an individual steak, there’s the eight-ounce Korean barbecue tri tip, or the juicy 12-ounce New York strip that’s cooked on the bone and finished by searing and basting to create a sumptuous crust.

An Allen Brothers Porterhouse

Australian Wagyu is $20 an ounce, with sauces like Bordelaise or seaweed yuzu butter, or the house sesame-ginger glaze. And, if for some bizarre reason steak isn’t your favorite entrée, there is crispy poussin, or a daily fish.

Don’t expect everyday steakhouse sides, either. Keane and chef de cuisine Kolin Vazzoler have had fun with interpretations of classic signatures, such as a “twice baked potato” that is actually potato gnocchi in a sauce of bacon, sour cream and scallion. A “shrimp cocktail” mounds Laughing Bird shrimp atop greens in a reduced tomato syrup, and when diners pushes a fork through, they discover a horseradish panna cotta tucked at the bottom.

And through it all is woven that Japanese flair – from tempura oyster with pickled lettuce and ginger sauce, to romaine salad with maple glazed bacon, Parmesan and sansho dressing. It’s no ordinary cauliflower gratin, either, but a bubbling hot dish dressed in black truffle.

At the end, the meal is still all about the meat, and Asian style. The traditional dessert concept won’t weigh diners down with big, sticky creations. Instead, something sweet is included free with every meal, in small servings of dishes like Meyer lemon cheesecake sorbet, or caramel sea salt gelato.

It’s just like when Keane visited Japan earlier this year, the chef reflects. “Just a little mouthful of something sweet could be so satisfying.”

Open for dinner only, Shimo takes yet another approach for the Sunday supper. In family-casual style, there will be a single menu, of Brandt Farms slow-roasted prime rib with an appetizer plus a more classic dessert such as sticky buns, prix-fixe at $49.

Just a little bit of seating, meanwhile, means Shimo is instantly one of the hottest tickets in town. At just 65 seats, reservations are a must.

Shimo Modern Steak, 241 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, 707-433-6000, shimomodernsteak.com.

Tip: Shimo is special occasion steak, so make it a special occasion evening, by hiring a Pure Luxury Transportation limo or Town Car for your door-to-door dinner party.

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