Bourbon Steak: Heaven in Americana

New restaurant sets the steakhouse bar high

Thursday, May 22, 2014 | 8:18 am

The ribeye steak at Bourbon Steak at the Americana on Brand, in Glendale.

What is about the steakhouse that is so American and so evocative? The deep leather booths, the tinkle of martini glasses, the adult sensibility? We’re not talking about discount steak houses offering flame-cooked chewy steaks at $15 bucks, including the salad bar. Bourbon Steak is a luxury, no-holds barred major league steakhouse, a special occasion place.

We’re talking fine quality tablecloths, flatware, and knives that could slice paper. (More on those knives later.) The kind of place where magic can happen, or a good cry, or maybe just Father’s day, without the kids. It’s sexy and grownup at the same time.

Restauteur Michael Mina’s newest Bourbon Steak, (his fifth nationwide)  just down the freeway from us in nearby Glendale, is that kind of place. Set at the corner of Colorado and Brand at Americana on Brand, the two-month old restaurant,  beckons you in immediately with decadent sweets behind glass counters in the lobby, before you’ve even entered the dining area. There, the room opens up like a curtain was pulled, as deep, roomy booths and tables spaced properly apart, beckon like sirens.

“Would you like black linen or white linen tonight?” the waitress asks. She was not joking.

“And If I had asked for black..?, ” I ventured.

“Oh, no problem. We just whisk this one away and quickly re-set your table. Some people prefer the black table cloth,” she said.

Making a mental note that those were people I would rather not hang out with, we settled into the white linen-bedecked booth like a ship in a marina.

Perfect lighting set a luxurious mood, as the attentive service began. As we began to examine the menu, a unordered first course arrived—a setting of three servings of french fries, each flavored differently with a host of complementary sauces. Apparently this is a favorite trick of Mina’s, featured as it is in a few of his other establishments. And it’s a great one. There were Pastrami fries, with a slightly salty and picked taste;  creamy parmesan tasting fries and a like sauce, along with picked herb fries. All were tasty and unique.

As Executive Chef Joseph Conrad explained, the menu, though traditional, offers just a hint of “Middle eastern spice and flavor” owing to Mina’s own background.

Conrad himself has insinuated a few dishes of his own, as each of the Bourbon Steak restaurants has a stock menu with classic items and room for each chef to improvise to some degree. The menu will vary and grow, as the restaurant moves out of its “opening” menu, over the next few months, he said.

We found the flavor decidedly “upscale steakhouse,” and fortunately, that happens to be one of our favorite flavors.

The menu is a circus of delights from the opening to dessert. We opted for Harachi Tuna poppers to open the show, and they were at once sweet, zingy and hot, as we had hoped.

When it came to entrees, we stuck with tradition, though the waitress teased us with the Lobster Pot Pie, apparently a favorite with many customers, who “drive a long way to come here and have it.” (We’ll take that offer to return ‘anytime’ and that will be the first choice.)

The shrimp cocktail arrived in a large ice-filled platter with a row of fist-sized meaty prawns, ice-cold, sweet and tangy. It was shrimp that made one eye a damp, dangerous fishing career with envy.

My medium-cooked Ribeye steak arrived with two skewers of grilled shrimp, was as big as Glendale, and my knife sank through it like creamy butter. I noticed there were no salt or pepper shakers on the tables, and after my first bite, never gave that a second thought. (Speaking of knives, those same knives figure prominently in a current mystery novel set in and around the restaurant’s Washington D. C. shop, we heard. Google-ize it.)

My dining partner opted for a delicious cod, with a baked potato topped with Gouda, and we upped the decadence level with a shared serving of lobster mashed potatoes—as rich and delicious as you are now picturing it.

Dessert was a chocolate Devil’s Food cake with peanut butter frosting, a root beer float with cookies (they insisted), and just to push the decadence needle into the red, we shared, or tried to share, a bacon donut—a large, thick and chewy glazed donut topped with a heavy frosting and perfectly cooked oversized bacon bits. Half of it came back to my place afterwards, as did half my steak. (The donut and I renewed our relationship much later that evening.)

Bourbon Steak is memorable, luxurious and a pleasure to dine in. It will set you back, so come prepared, but you can also expect lovely and attentive service, great food, and a quiet, happy drive home.

Bourbon Steak is at The Americana at Brand, 889 Americana Way, Glendale, CA. (818) 839-4130.


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