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Tasty Brews

Burbank pub also takes its food seriously, offering a huge and eclectic menu-to-quaff-by.

May 07, 1999|MAX JACOBSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch--an award-winning brewer and a restaurant consultant, respectively--are the Bartles & Jaymes of brew pubs.

The Burbank branch of their Gordon Biersch chain is a clubby-industrial place targeted at 20-something professionals, complete with exposed ceiling ducts, languid overhead fans, glimmering stainless steel fermentation tanks behind a glass wall and striking mustard-and-black service plates.

The huge split-level bar features eight TV screens and a preachy sign trumpeting the ancient German purity laws for brewing beer, which are presumably in force here.

GB makes five styles of beer, all of them better than competent. You can taste all five simply by ordering the beer sampler, likely to include Martzen (a hoppy lager), Dunkles (a sweet, unfiltered dark beer) and Blond Boch (7.2% alcohol with a caramel finish), as well as seasonal choices.

Food is taken seriously here. GB's menu is huge and eclectic.

The best starter is the rosemary-marinated lamb skewers with sweet chile glaze. The meat is tender; the glaze is very Thai in spirit. The Gordon Biersch garlic fries are also a sure bet. They are light and crisp, just like the best beers here.

I like the generous, mix-it-yourself Cobb salad because it has lots of bacon, smoked turkey and avocado. The golden noodles salad with long-cooked duck has the perfect proportion of noodles to meat and bean sprouts, plus the ideal amount of ginger, mint and curry spices.

The menu has its flaws, though. The "hangover" pizza on the Sunday brunch menu has a nice crust finished in a wood-burning oven, but it's marred by an insipid topping of rubbery hard-boiled eggs and surprisingly flavorless andouille sausage.

My Reuben sandwich, on nicely grilled rye bread, was filled with tough, gristly corned beef. One of the menu's many pasta dishes, goat cheese ravioli with portabello mushrooms and pine nuts, came out badly undercooked.

GB does make a nice Louisiana gumbo with chicken and andouille sausage (in this case, it does have flavor). I like what they call pan roasts--light, spicy stews of crab or shrimp rich in butter and flour. Another appealing main dish is Moroccan spiced lamb sirloin, powerfully spiked with cumin. The meat is paired with sweet-and-sour eggplant and roasted potato.

Among the rich, oversize desserts, the best two are a creamy cheesecake, and a giant bowl of warm apple bread pudding topped with vanilla ice cream and a flavorful pecan caramel sauce.

Beer seems like a diet food in this context.

BE THERE

Gordon Biersch, 145 S. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank. Open 11 a.m.-12 a.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Valet parking. Full bar. All major cards. Dinner for two, $23-$39. Suggested dishes: garlic fries, $3.95; lamb skewers, $5.25; Cobb salad, $9.95; chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, $10.95. Call (818) 569-5241.

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