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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Los Angeles' Best Eats - Eastside Edition, Part 4


See the ever-growing list of our best Eastside Eats here!


Sometimes you just want a good steak, price be damned. The population of the eastside is made up in large part by carnivores. You can get your red meat protein almost anywhere at a range of prices from cheap to astronomical.



About the best you can get is at the Sycamore Inn in Rancho Cucamonga where the history goes back 170 years, although the modern era of the restaurant is a little more modest...approaching 100.

Elegant inside with professional waiters serving on linen covered tables and high-backed chairs, this is the place for a great steak in the Inland Empire.



Custom aged and hand-carved USDA prime steaks that melt in your mouth are the stars of the menu here. This is a special place and the food is pretty special, too. The kind of dinner locals will splurge on for a birthday, anniversary, or even a proposal.

Feast on a tomahawk rib eye with some peppercorn sauce...or perhaps you will like the bearnaise better?...with some broiled broccoli or a classic baked potato. All good but I'm an au gratin guy.

Wash it down with with some Duckhorn Russian River Pinot Noir or any other choice from their extensive list.  Don't hurry...just enjoy the meaty flavor enhanced by some California alcohol.Warby Parker

Pair it with a lobster? Why not, or have one alone on it's own dish.  Poultry is well represented here, too, with Jidori roast chicken or maybe you'd care for a rack or lamb instead.

Save room for the Grand Marnier chocolate soufle but make sure to order that way at the beginning of dinner...it takes time to make it right.

It's not a cheap treat...if you try really hard you just might get out for just under $100 per person - pre tax - but save up to splurge at this inland institution of fine meat.

Oh yeah, you can get a bit of that Sycamore Inn experience for a fraction of the cost if you come during their happy hour...served in the lounge on the wraparound porch until 8pm daily...where you can get discounted drinks and the most expensive dish is the filet mignon at $28 or the prime rib at $26.



Speaking of Prime Rib, you can get the best we've tried in Southern California at a little dive bar at an old, slightly run down strip mall in Redondo Beach. Yeah, it doesn't quite fit our eastside criteria, being a block away from the ocean in a decidedly westside location, but once in a great while those western centered lists will drift over the line, too.  Purely by accident, I'm sure.


We'll let joke telling bartender, Kevin, punctuate this entry: "How do you tell a boy ant from a girl ant? You put them in a glass of water. If it sinks...girl ant. If it floats...boyant. "


We're sure this is the best prime rib around, with the possible exception of a certain Beverly Hills chop house, and this one won't break the bank too much, either.




The Bull Pen is that place where you see the gray-haired barflies rubbing elbows with the tattooed, mascaraed, and bleached blonde, among other assorted quaffers of their very well stocked bar serving day drinking prices before the dinner bell. Yes, these are my kind of people and I love hanging out with them. 




The chaser, though, is that little dining room, off to the right, over the low divider. While the menu has a good list of steaks, chops, seafood, and a very righteous burger, people mostly come here for one thing...the prime rib.


It's a thick hunk of tender beef, recommended at medium rare. Marbled well and with a peppery crust holding the mass of meaty juices in. Served with a nice, creamy horseradish (straight is also available) and a cup of au jus, a dip here...a dip there and pop this melt-in-your-mouth juice bomb in your mouth for a protein delight.


Kevin: "How to you make Holy Water? You boil the hell out of it. "




Served with baked potato, mashed, fries, or vegetables...also an excellent fresh salad with the option (exercised by most customers) of jellied beets put on top. This king of Southern California prime rib, labeled at 12 ounces but I'll be damned if it's really not 16...is delivered to your table for $29.95. A 9 ounce light eater's version is $18.95.


A secret bargain, though...if they don't sell out on Friday night, they'll serve the rest as a Saturday lunch special for less than half price. Call after 9:00am on Saturday to see if they'll be having the prime rib as a lunch special.


Kevin: "Did you here about the police station that had their toilet stolen? They're out looking for it but have nothing to go on. "




Cafe Bizou has now graced the Pasadena landscape so long that it's considered an anchor in the area but at one time, it was the new kid on the block, bringing in fun French inspired dishes to the masses in a service-oriented, Continental atmosphere.


Except for the 'new' part, all the rest is still there. White table cloths, professional waiters, great food at exceptional prices.  It's not trendy in this neighborhood anymore where the Slaters, the Meat Districts, the Vertical Wine Bars, Himalayan restaurants, and the oh-so-pricey restaurants of the moment.


Cafe Bizou only offers reliably outstanding food, good service, in an upscale and comfortable atmosphere. It's also very easily accessible, almost right across the street from the Memorial Park Station of Metro's Gold Line light rail train.




While we're talking about meat and potatoes on this installment, we'd like to highlight the red-meat centered entrees available here but also know that there is a very good selection of seafood dishes here such as their Friday night bouillabaisse and their famously good Chilean sea bass.


We come here, however, for the meats...steak frites, steak au poivre,  and lamb. Tender, tasty, lamb chops without a hint of the gaminess you find at lesser establishments. Oozing with fatty juices, seasoned with Rosemary, and butterknife-tender. The New York strip steak with a savory Burgundy sauce cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, served with some double fried string potatoes.




The best of an outstanding lineup for me is the thinly sliced, perfectly pink pieces of meat served in a creamy brandy sauce that make up their steak au poivre...so very fork-tender...with the beef juices lovingly blending into the sauce that makes up their steak au poivre. It's my go-to dish here.

A very creamy version of handmade mashed potatoes is served with it but you can also ask that their super creamy potatoes au gratin be substituted. It all comes with some typical crusty baguettes and a little pile of perfectly blanched vegetables.  It's one of the few times Tim will willingly eat all of his veggies.

This is not a budget breaker either, as I've alluded to above. My favorite dish, the steak au poivre, is only $21.95. Nothing on their regular menu even comes close to thirty dollars (they do have a very popular prixe fix menu for $36 dollars that covers everything from soup or salad through dessert). Adding a salad or soup de jour is $2, you can upgrade to a Caesar
salad for an extra buck.

And, while they have a good wine list here, you can bring your own for a very reasonable two dollar corkage fee...bring as many bottles as you like, they're all just $2 each.

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Anaheim is a German-based word for for Ana's home.  It came about as a German settlement arose by the Santa Ana River, south of Los Angeles in what is now Orange County.  Home by the Santa Ana River.

After World War II, all things German were a bit touchy. Into this era came a private cultural club, German, in Anaheim who wanted everyone to know that they were not like 'those' Germans. They were to be welcoming and all inclusive, celebrating their history and culture without the baggage of the war. Rising up with a new Germany from those ashes like the legendary Phoenix bird. This was the founding of the Phoenix Club in 1961.



When the city of Anaheim wanted the land on Katella Avenue where their modest club house was to build the Honda Center (home of the Ducks NHL team), they agreed to build a new club on land behind the arena. That's where you'll find the modern Phoenix Club in a large, modern building along with their Bierstube Restaurant.

Although a private club, it is always open to the public. The Bierstube is a fine, friendly place to indulge in German food and beer.

It's really more like a pub than a restaurant. Amid the woody, cozy room...walls adorned with the emblems of the many clubs that call the Phoenix Club home...you'll find a long bar, taps pouring brews from the motherland, and German dishes heavy with sausages, kraut, spaetzle, and more.

While you can get a good steak here, a great charcuterie dish, and big soft pretzels, pork is the reason we come here. 



Our favorite on the daily menu is jaegerschnitzel, a pork cutlet covered with a wild mushroom sauce and served with spaetzle. Starting off with a tender chop, with juices flowing, the savory sauce along with the earthy mushrooms are a carnivore's delight. The spaetzle (a kind of German pasta) adds to the heaviness of the dish...it will fill you up fast...so you might want to substitute potatoes or plan on taking half of the dish home.

You'll want to wash this down with whatever German Oktoberfest beer they're serving at the time.  I'd say save room for dessert but that's just about impossible here.



If you see their pork chop special on the board, you will want to try that.  Another very juicy and lovingly cooked chop, covered with a thin brown gravy and served with some of the best mashed potatoes you can find in Southern California.  This is my favorite dish here and always leaves me wanting more.



Bargains abound at their daily happy hours with beer, drink, and appetizer specials plus one of the biggest and best Oktoberfests happens here on weekends from mid September through October in their large biergarten out back.

Carnivores can find much to please them in this area but these are a few of our favorites.


Hand Picked Special Occasion Wines delivered to your door.- Wine of The Month Club

Darryl Musick
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