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Valley Life | Restaurant Reveiw

The Steaks Are High

But the prices are reasonable at homey Burbank Boulevard eatery.

November 13, 1998|MAX JACOBSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The quiet stretch of Burbank Boulevard near Burbank's downtown could be a set for the movie "Pleasantville." One of the bungalows on this wide, tree-lined street is actually a homey restaurant named The Place for Steak.

Little on its menu would have been too far out for the folks in Pleasantville. There's nothing fancier than Caesar salad and aged steak, mostly USDA Choice. A few cuts are Prime and carry a slightly higher price tag.

But no price tag is very high. The 24-ounce (Prime) Porterhouse is $18.95, about half what you'd pay at a premium steakhouse.

The dining area is plain and comfortable. There are a few tables in a chilly foyer decorated with caricatures of movie stars. The softly lit main room has a fair complement of innocuous hotel lobby art on the walls.

The service is perfunctory if you aren't on intimate terms with a waiter. We ordered the Caesar for two, after noticing our waiter tossing one grandly at an adjacent table. But ours was mixed in the kitchen. "The people over there are my friends," he explained with a shrug. Anyway, it's a workmanlike Caesar dominated by the flavor of anchovies.

Pass on the crab cocktail, despite its generous portion of lump crab meat. Crab meat oxidizes quickly, and this one had scarcely any flavor apart from the nicely tangy red cocktail sauce. But the clam chowder is creamy, chock full of clams and, unlike most California clam chowders, not a bit pasty.

On to the steaks. The best deal is definitely a 16-ounce top sirloin, smothered in sauteed onions and peppers. It isn't the most tender cut sold here, but it's staunchly beefy and only $10.95. The best piece of meat is the 8-ounce filet mignon, which cuts like butter. It is in a thick brown mushroom sauce, but the meat is so good I recommend requesting no sauce.

A 12-ounce New York steak is presented on a sizzling platter, under a snowdrift of mushrooms and onions. Ours was on the tough side. I've also had the 12-ounce rib eye, a nicely marbled piece of Prime beef, although gristly on the edges.

I was unimpressed by the prime rib, which was ordered medium rare, served medium and not quite as tender or flavorful as top prime rib should be.

All entrees come with crisply sauteed vegetables and a choice of starches. The best is the firm, slightly lumpy garlic mashed potatoes, with the fluffy rice pilaf coming in a close second. There are also nondescript steak fries.

Among the desserts (not made on the premises), my favorites are the moist lemon cake and creamy Black Forest chocolate cake. But there's no apple pie, so we know this really isn't Pleasantville.

BE THERE

The Place for Steak, 1220 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank. Dinner only, Tuesdays-Thursdays, 5-9 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 5-10:30 p.m.; Sundays, 5-9:30 p.m. Closed Mondays. Parking in lot. Beer and wine only. MasterCard and Visa accepted. Suggested dishes: New England clam chowder, $2.50 cup, $3.95 bowl; 16-ounce top sirloin, $10.95; 8-ounce filet mignon, $15.95; 24-ounce Porterhouse, $18.95. Call (818) 840-9400.

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