Thursday, November 09, 2006

"The Great Steakhouse Challenge" - Dinner at Dal Rae

Second up for the "Great Steakhouse Challenge" dinner series was Dal Rae in Pico Rivera.

Did you know that the 1950s never left Dal Rae in Pico Rivera? In fact, as I was driving up Washington Blvd, I already knew I was going somewhere special. From a few streets away, I could already see the tall beautiful neon sign with the restaurant name in blazing red lights. No cheesy backlit plastic for Dal Rae. It was class all the way.

Upon entering the lobby, I was greeted by live music in the bar and two
hostesses, who with their almost bouffant hair-dos helped set the stage for my 50s time warp. Inside the bustling restaurant, my eyes took in the wood paneled walls and the black leather banquettes and I felt right at home.

Once seated, iced relish trays were swept onto to the table while drink orders were taken. While perusing the menu, we were able to crunch our way through cold crisp veggies. It's amazing to start your meal with fresh produce edibles. For someone who's eaten at a lot of restaurants, this was a welcome first for me.

Speaking of the menu, Dal Rae's vintage menu contained old standbys like lobster thermidor, oysters Rockefeller and tableside Caesar. Desserts even included relics like bananas flambé and cherries jubilee.

With all the choices, it was hard to decide but eventually everyone made their selections. After placing our orders, French bread, breadsticks and thick cracker wafers came out, soon followed by garlic bread. For our presently carb-conscious world, a lot of people would be running out the door screaming, but hey, in my 50s daze, I took helpings of both.

Appetizers were ordered, but the one that held the most fascination was the escargot cooked in garlic butter. The aroma was so strong that I think people from the bar could have smelled it; yet, it was also so tantalizing that I may have been willing to forget that escargot was French for snails and sampled the dish anyway.

After the appetizers were enjoyed and consumed, our steak fest began. After all, steak was the main reason we came to Dal Rae in the first place. Orders included Steak Diane, prepared tableside, as well as prime rib, steak and other various cuts of meat. For the meat entrees, it truly is all about the meat. The sides are kept simple. You get veggies and potatoes cooked in some fashion whether it's baked or French-fried.

I ordered the Petite Filet Pepper Steak and it was cooked to perfection. Both tender and moist, it was literally packed with flavor. Just looking at it, I could see the black and white pepper embedded into the meat's surface. I was so enthralled with my steak that I barely touched the vegetables or my baked potato. My steak was just that good. The empty plates around the table conveyed how much we all loved Dal Rae's steak offerings.

Amazingly enough, there was still room for dessert or perhaps it was our childish glee in seeing fruit set on fire that prompted us to order both the bananas flambé and the cherries jubilee. The tableside preparation of both our desserts was a sight to see with flames igniting the fruit and alcohol in the pans. But even better was savoring the hot sweetness of the fruit mixtures poured over the cold sweetness of vanilla ice cream. A perfect end to a perfect meal.

So ended our time space continuum foray into 1950s steakhouse glory and wow, was it worth the trip. From start to finish, our time at Dal Rae was a sheer visual, atmospheric and culinary delight and if the only way I can come back is to sport a beehive, I'd do so without question.

To see pics, go to:

Dal Rae

9023 Washington Blvd
Pico Rivera, CA 90660
(323) 723-4427

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