Meat (I Never Met A Steak I Did Not Like)
Dal Rae: A Little (Expensive) Trip Back In Time

June 08, 2002 at 00:49:25

I had to go in and work from the office an extra day this week
today, the Mrs. offered to carpool and be the designated driver.
So I figured great, I would not have to deal with the traffic behind
the wheel. That was my first and most costly mistake.

We left the old homestead in Chino at 7:00 this morning and
rode the carpool lane as far as it would go west on the 60, and
she got me to work before 8:00. Figuring since I had got to the
office earlier than I normally would, I decided to treat myself to
breakfast in the company cafeteria. Mistake number two.

The regular grill man was apparently not there this morning. The
second team guy’s idea of scrambling a couple of eggs is to
pour the pre-beaten (I wonder if from real fresh) eggs on the grill
surface, then walk away and fill three of four other orders. Then
come back, and scrape up the whole, over cooked, paper-thin
(100 pound paper, grant you) thing, folding it over itself and put it
on a plate. I would have been better off at home, back on The
Liquid Diet.

The upside of carpooling, with the Mrs. in the driver’s seat, is that
I don’t have to drive, and I get dropped off first in Monterey Park
while she continues on to Glendale. The downside of
carpooling, with the Mrs. in the driver’s seat, is I have to 1) call
her and remind her in the late afternoon that she has a
passenger, 2) receive the phone call at 5:30 to say she is just
leaving the office, when she last told me she would be leaving at
5:00; 3) kill some time on a lazy Friday, going stir crazy because
she is not arrived at my office yet, and I have already cruised the
Chowhound boards fifteen times.

So once in the car with the Mrs. we are on the 60 going nowhere
in Friday evening traffic, and the Mrs. indicates to me she would
like to make a “decompression” stop. Always the ever vigilant
‘hound that I am, my ears twitch, my chowbrain goes in to
overdrive, and I ask, concealing the glee in my voice, “and where
would you like to stop dear?” And, music to my ears, the good
woman responds, “someplace where I can get some real food,
I'm hungry.”

So I direct the Mrs. to exit the 60 at Rosemead and we head
south towards Washington Boulevard and Dal Rae.

Dal Rae, if you haven’t been there is a very retro restaurant
experience, something out of the 1960’s maybe. It reminded me
very much of the old Papa Choux that for a time was one of the
in- places for business lunches, dinners and various
assignations for the downtown L.A. crowd (what with Papa
Choux’ continental menu and private, curtained booths and all).
Very dark, red leather booths, plenty of help hovering around.
Very good service. A nice experience, once in a very great while.

We ordered a bottle of Riesling, of which I consumed the
majority of, after all, I had to do my part to help the designated
driver. The Mrs. worried over the extensive menu a very long time,
I think some of it was the fact that she had not seen the likes of
Dal Rae’s entree selections in a long time, and maybe also she
was experiencing a little sticker shock. But she finally settled on
fried shrimp, a baked potato and a tossed salad. I ordered Prime
Rib, garlic mashed potatoes and the Manhattan chowder.

Immediately upon being seated we were served a classic relish
tray and a bread basket. The Mrs. remarked to me, in a not very
friendly tone, that the bread was not warm. The basket
contained, however, some nice sourdough bread and some nice
looking lavosh. The Mrs. enjoyed the lavosh, and seemed to
enjoy the sourdough, because as usual, she was scarfing bread
and butter. The Mrs’. salad was tossed at the table by the
waitress and looked appetizing. I enjoyed my cup of chowder,
this was a creamy Manhattan, and it was quite tasty. Garlic
cheese toast was presented with the soup and salad. This
made the Mrs. happy.

The Mrs. plate held about a half dozen jumbo butter flied shrimp
with a beer batter like coating. There was a red-cocktail dipping
sauce and a Remoulade dipping sauce. The Mrs. did not enjoy
her shrimp as much as I know she would have liked to. Because
of that fact, and the fact that she had, as usual, OD’d on bread, I
was offered the last two shrimp. The shrimp themselves were
very good, the batter was a bit on the damp side (probably
steamed between the time it was plated and covered and left on
a counter in the kitchen, and when it was finally received and
uncovered at the table). The Mrs. did seem to enjoy the baked
potato.

The Prime Rib was a generous large cut of meat on the bone. In
the realm of my Prime Rib experiences I would rate this better
than most I have had, but not as good as the best I have had. It
was swimming in its nice meat juices on the plate and was
accompanied by a container of creamed horseradish. I polished
off the entire slab of beef, and was tempted to pick-up the bone
and gnaw on it, but I had already soiled the family name by
soiling the white tablecloth with a drop of chowder, so I figured I
better mind my manners. (It was certainly fortuitous that I had
selected a black shirt this morning.)

The garlic mashed potatoes were just so-so, I have definitely
had better. Both entrees were also accompanied by some very
nice mixed steamed, but crunchy vegetables (baby green beans,
slivers of carrot, slices of zucchini, and slivers of red pepper).

We passed on dessert and the Mrs. had a cup of coffee. The
Mrs. did give the coffee a two thumbs up, so given the fact that
the Mrs. has carpel tunnel syndrome in both thumbs, and
sometimes can barely move them, and then in much pain, this
was very high praise indeed for the Dal Rae coffee.

Dinner, wine, tax and tip came to $128.00, plus a tip for the
parking valet. Somehow, I don’t think carpooling with the Mrs.
was a very wise economical decision this morning. (Well at least
she paid for the gas.)

Dal Rae Restaurant
(323) 723-4427
(562) 949-2444
9023 Washington Blvd
Pico Rivera, CA 90660
Dal Rae - Where to Wow The Out Of Towners

January 22, 2003 at 00:37:07

I took three business associates from the Boston area to Dal
Rae tonight, they all loved it. Loved the retro atmosphere, the
great service and the retro menu. Their comment was that they
have nothing like it in Boston.

Between the three of us we polished off one mixed green salad,
two of the hearts of Romaine salads (with a garnish of
anchovies, hard boiled egg, olives and avocado) with the house
special "French" style blue cheese dressing. Two New York
strip pepper steaks (smothered in green pepper corns,
chopped green onion and bacon bits), one grenadine of beef,
one salmon a la Ben (crusted with parmigano and smothered
in carmelized onions). One side of real mashed potatoes and
two sides of baked potatoes and one side of rice pilaf (looked
like Rice-A-Roni to me).

That and the lavosh and sourdough, relish tray, one mixed
drink, three glasses of wine and one coffee, and the
complimentary garlic bread that comes with the salads all
came to $191.00 including tax, excluding tip.

What a great experience. Subdued lighting, cozy booths,
attentive but unobtrusive service. Spied the middle aged gent
with the all-day-tan (probably stepping out on the little lady) in a
booth with a young bimbo, and in another booth the older white
haired, white bearded gentleman with his lady all dolled up, he
in an elegant black suit, she in beautiful black dress and black
hat.  All we needed was for Phillip Marlowe to show up.

Dal Rae Restaurant
(323) 723-4427
(562) 949-2444
9023 Washington Blvd
Pico Rivera, CA 90660
A Tale Of Two Steaks: New York Grill & Arroyo
Chop House

November 01, 2002 at 19:58:47

It has the potential of being the best of dining times, or the worst
of dining times… the never ending quest for deliciousness. In
pursuit of the quest, this correspondent performed his duty and
ate ribeye in The Dining Wilderness That Is The Inland Empire
and in the Culinary Promised Land that exists to the west of the
Great Dining Divide, Highway 71. Sunday saw ribeye consumed
at New York Grill just across the street form Ontario Mills.
Thursday saw ribeye consumed at Arroyo Chop House in
Pasadena.

Steak Number One: Having not been able to celebrate our
anniversary on the previous Thursday due to business and
family commitments, the Mrs. and I hopped in to Herman and
finally toodled over to New York Grill Sunday evening. The Mrs.
was ready for a nice dinner, so I offered to take her to Morton’s in
L.A., Arroyo Chop House in Pasadena or New York Grill in
Ontario. We settled upon Ontario, since by that point in the
weekend neither of us was up for any extended treks on the
freeway (and besides, I knew I had a business engagement
coming up where I could dine at Arroyo Chop House on the
company dime).

We had not been to New York Grill for at least a year, but it was
as we left it, a nice ambience, in both the main dining room and
the adjacent bar area. The walls painted in warm tones, a large
floor to ceiling, dark wood cabinet with shelves of wine, and a
service station dividing the dining room from the bar area. Very
cozy booths in the bar. Service was initially slow to arrive at our
table, but after that our waiter was appropriately attentive. My only
quibble, really more of a petty annoyance, was the fact that when
the waiter took our order, he squatted down so that his head
was at about table top height. I don’t know why some service
people do this, but it just seems unprofessional to me, and it
does not set a proper tone for the dining experience, especially
in a high end joint, or a joint that aspires to be high end.

We both ordered a spinach salad to start, and the Mrs. had a
lobster tail and I a boneless ribeye steak. The spinach salads
were not warm, but rather, cold spinach leaves with a balsamic
vinaigrette dressing, with crumbles of feta, and pine nuts. The
salad also came with a sliver of Prosciutto. I had expected the
classic warm spinach salad, however, I was not disappointed
with this cold version. The spinach leaves together with the
dressing and the pine nuts was very enjoyable. The Mrs. also
enjoyed it. The slice of Prosciutto seemed dried out to me and
not very flavorful. It really did not do justice to Italian delicacies.

The Mrs.’ lobster tail was consumed eagerly, without even one
tiny morsel offered to her hubby. Also on her plate was some
rice, and strangely, a dollop of the house porchini mashed
potatoes and braised vegetables.

My ribeye came appropriately medium-rare, however I thought
the thickness of the piece of meat was a bit skimpy. Had it been
cut thicker, I believe it would have arrived at the table in an
acceptably more juicy state. While the steak was decent, I have
to say that it was probably less flavorful than the $13.00 ribeye I
can get at Chili’s. The mashed potatoes come with a porchini
mushroom sauce, which is fairly tasty, but also slightly
reminiscent of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. The
vegetables were very good. Baby carrots and green beans,
some yellow squash, and on my plate (but not the wife’s) a nice
hunk of braised baby Bok Choi. Accompanying the meal was a
basket of anise flavored buttermilk biscuits.

Wine hicks that we are, we ordered a bottle of Geyser Peak
Gewürztraminer with our meal, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I
developed a very pleasant buzz, but when I broached the subject
of ordering a second bottle, that did not go over too well with the
Mrs. Fortunately for me the pleasant buzz from the single bottle
lasted all the way through the meal, so I was happy. Upon
reflection as I write this, I am enjoying that bottle of Geyser Peak
even more, since a single glass of Sequoia Cabernet at Arroyo
Chop House last night cost the same as the whole bottle of
wine at New York Grill.

For dessert we had crème brulee and tirimisu and one coffee.
Both desserts were very enjoyable, although I thought the
ramekin that the custard came in was awfully shallow.

The total bill, food, beverages and tax (minus tip) came to
$120.00

Now don’t get me wrong, even though, in the continuum of steak
experiences, New York Grill is not really up there with the finest
examples, it is an exemplary dining experience when one’s
options are limited by The Dining Wilderness That Is The Inland
Empire. So if one finds him or herself momentarily relegated to
The Dining Wilderness, there is sanctuary at New York Grill.
One other reason to visit New York Grill is this Saturday, when
they will feature live jazz by the Dave Mackay Trio. Apparently they
are doing live jazz once a month. Those booths in their bar will
make for a very comfortable, intimate, musical experience.

Steak Number Two: Having a “compelling” reason to continue
our business discussions beyond daylight business hours, two
associates and I reconvened at Arroyo Chop House yesterday
evening. After receiving sufficient lubrication from six mixed
drinks (not six each, a total of six drinks between three drinkers,
after all, we did have to conquer some prime beef later) we
ordered as starters, one tomato and onion salad with creamy
blue cheese dressing, one spinach salad and one order of
pancetta wrapped scallops.

My dining companions seemed to enjoy their vegetable based
starters, of course being fortified by Mr. Beefeater and Mr.
Seagram, with an assist from the Chop House’s warm and
crusty sourdough with sweet butter, and warm and crusty
sourdough garlic bread, the starters were all the more
enjoyable. In terms of the scallops, this is what I always order at
the Chop House, and I never share it. The scallops are always
all mine! The dish comes with four plump scallops that are
wrapped with perfectly cooked bacon, the scallops are sweet
and creamy tasting, the bacon is at a perfect state of
crispy/chewy-ness, and the scallops lie in a shallow pool of a
wonderful sweet complimentary sauce. These are “oh so good”
(catch phrase used with permission of Mr. Food), and I generally
can resist the temptation to immediately grab them up and pop
them whole in my mouth, and instead, I very deliberately slice
each in half with my fork, and savor the flavor and texture.

We each ordered “cowboy ribeyes” from the night’s specials
selection. These were bone on ribeyes, cooked medium-rare,
medium-rare and rare, respectively (all of us duly respectful of
good beef). Accompaniments were braised spinach, lyonaise
potatoes, onion rings, and sugar snap peas. One diner also
ordered one glass of Sequoia Cabernet (at $15.75 it could have
been three bottles of Sutter Home White Zinfandel, sigh).
Dessert was one chocolate pecan pie with a scoop of espresso
ice cream, one lemon bread pudding, and one cup of coffee.

Of course the ribeyes at the Chop House were far and away
much better than the ribeye at New York Grill. They were bigger
hunks of meat, in both the length of their perimeter and in their
thickness. More tender, more flavorful and definitely juicier, with
juices running on the plate as soon as the crusty exterior was
pierced by a fork. Once I began tucking in to that beefy delight it
disappeared all too rapidly. It was very difficult to resist the urge
to pick up that big beefy bone and begin gnawing. This was truly
a heroic chop. The steaks at the Chop House are served with a
trio of sauces on the side, and I monopolized the Portabello
wine reduction sauce. Now I know a good steak does not need
any embellishments, but that mushroom sauce is so good, and
it just takes the steak to another plane.

The braised spinach consisted of beautiful emerald colored
leaves that melted in the mouth. The sugar snaps were crisp,
but not very sweet tasting. A few of the peas were a nice deep
green, but the majority of them had a faded green color, like they
were possibly cooked a bit too long. The potatoes were
outstanding. Perfectly cooked discs of potato married to
wonderful caramelized onions and butter. I, as usual, cleverly
managed to spill onion infused butter on my shirt while
transporting potato from plate to mouth. So I was able to enjoy
that wonderful sautéed onion perfume the rest of the evening,
long after the potatoes met their destiny.

The service was, as usual in this establishment, outstanding.
The waitress was knowledgeable, did not intrude, and paced
the service well. The runner and bus person served well, and
timely, and also did not intrude. Upon arriving at the restaurant
for our reservation we had to wait about 90 seconds while
management broke up a ten-top in to a couple of four tops,
(apparently they were set up for some no-shows) so that we
could avail ourselves of one of the four-tops. (There were an
ample number of booths available, but management must have
wisely noted the not insubstantial girth of two members of our
party, and made the decision that we would be more
comfortable in a table as opposed to trying to squeeze in to a
booth. Once we were seated the host also discretely
approached me and asked if I would be more comfortable in an
armless chair, this gesture and the way it was delivered (a
whisper in the ear) were appreciated. They really know how to
handle themselves here. Throughout the meal we were
entertained by a live pianist who added to the ambiance. I
believe the Chop House is decorated in a manner reminiscent
of the Mission style (fitting given the history of Pasadena and the
influence of Greene and Greene architecture), and I always
enjoy being in this space.

For dessert one of the not insubstantial members of our party
opted for coffee, I, the most substantial member of the party,
could not resist trying the lemon bread pudding, and the “skinny
guy”, relatively speaking, was dying to try the chocolate pecan
pie. As it turned out, there was a small wager made while dining
on our entrees that the “skinny guy” would not be able to finish
his steak, and, consume a beer battered onion ring. I don’t know
what it is with these “skinny guys”, they must all have hollow
legs. This particular “skinny guy” has a professional reputation
of being very detail oriented, and that carried over in to his steak
consumption, it was detailed very slow, and carefully,
methodical. The “skinny guy” was the last to finish his meal, but
he certainly extracted every molecule of meat that was attached
to that bone, and he ended up eating more onion rings than his
two portly associates.

The “skinny guy” did not leave anything on his dessert plate
either, and I believe at that point he was experiencing an out of
body experience from his pie. The lemon bread pudding was a
nice, warm, soft pillow of moist bread pudding with a perfect
lemon flavor. It was plated with a complimentary raspberry
sauce and a great dollop of cold whipped cream. Each fork full
of pudding and whipped cream represented a day in Heaven.

The Arroyo Chop House is a fine representation of a classic
steak house.

Total tab, including tax (but excluding the tip) for three steaks,
three starters, four sides, two desserts, six mixed drinks, one
glass of wine and one coffee came to $260.00.

A Special Note for ‘hounds contemplating any action that would
require an alibi. Apparently the clock on the computer at the
Chop House has not been set back to standard time (as noted
on my receipt). So anyone planning on dining and criming,
should make appropriate adjustments to their schedule.

New York Grill
950 Ontario Mills Road
(Fourth Street exit, I-15)
Ontario
(909) 987-1928

Arroyo Chop House
536 South Arroyo Parkway
Pasadena
(626) 577-7463
Sycamore Inn: Finally A Great Steak In The Inland
Empire

April 27, 2003 at 19:53:02

The Sycamore Inn has been a venerable dining spot in the
Inland Empire for many years. Although I have lived in the
general area off and on for a significant portion of the last 30
years, I had never visited this establishment. My impression
was that the restaurant had been well past its prime during the
last few years. I became aware in 2002, however, that the
restaurant was acquired by Chuck and Linda Keagle who are
the founders and owners of the local Cask & Cleaver chain. The
word was that they would rehabilitate the Sycamore Inn and
remake it in to a high-end steak house. That possibility was
both intriguing and suspicious.

Intriguing because there really is a dearth of higher end
beefsteak establishments in The Dining Wilderness That Is The
Inland Empire. Suspicious, because in my experience the Cask
& Cleaver falls somewhere between The Sizzler and Black
Angus. The former lackluster Cask & Cleaver in Chino having
expired and been replaced by a branch of Crabby Bob’s, (which
in itself was a notable establishment to avoid, even  before it
morphed, with the same ownership, in to Honolulu Harry's).

Well the Mrs. called me in my home office Friday afternoon and
informed me that she was really in the mood for a “good” dining
experience. When I asked her if she wanted me to meet her
“half way” somewhere west of The Great Dining Divide
(Highway 71) or would she like to eat closer to home, she
responded, “maybe someplace like New York Grill”. (The New
York Grill, at Ontario Mills was previously reported on under the
Subject: “A Tale Of Two Steaks” in late October 2002.)

So casting all suspicions aside, my inner ‘hound took control of
matters and I decided that we would try the Sycamore Inn. Was
that ever a good decision.

By the time the Mrs. got home (after a short bargain shopping
stop) and got Binky and Baxter situated with some fresh Fancy
Feast and Eukanuba, it was slightly past nine o’clock when
Herman pulled us up in front of the Sycamore Inn.

Nestled among large, aged Sycamore trees, the building
evoked an earlier time, and was warm and inviting. Upon
entering the front door we found ourselves in a large lounge
area, with tufted leather booths, a fireplace, the bar and hosts’
podium.

The timing was perfect, while there were a fair amount of other
cars in the lot, and patrons scattered throughout the main dining
room and a side room, and we were reservation-less, we were
still seated immediately.

We were seated in the main dining room that must have been
recently restored with warm toned paint on the walls and
beautiful wood wainscoting. With what looked like new
chandeliers and wall sconces, and little alcoves with what
appeared to be period replica lamps. Nat and Ella were
emanating at a perfect volume from the sound system. The
chairs were high backed, leather on casters and probably had
already lived a long life at the restaurant, their seat cushions a
little off kilter from long wear made it a bit difficult to sit up
straight at the table, but once sated, they were very comfortable
to sink back in to. Overall, a very inviting room to have a good
meal.

The Mrs. ordered a glass of wine (the restaurant offers 20 wines
by the glass) and I a mixed drink. Warm bread was immediately
served. The appetizers were out for the Mrs. as the appetizer
menu was heavy on seafood (both raw and cooked), and she
would not bite when I tried to convince her to try the appetizer
special of roasted heads of garlic with bruschetta and other
breads. (Just the thought of softened garlic squeezed out on
some toasty bread is making my stomach growl right now.) The
Mrs. had already put away a salad at lunch, so she did not want
a salad course either. She did settle on a petit filet, a side of
mashed potatoes and a side of sautéed mushrooms. I ordered
a Caesar salad, a Delmonico steak (a bone in New York steak)
and a side of Parmesan au gratin potatoes.

The salad looked and tasted exactly like the Caesar at Black
Angus. It was serviceable and sustained my need for greens. I
enjoyed the salad and one slice of warm sourdough with some
softened herb butter that had a light, nutty brown color, with a
slight garlicky taste, and other herb-y nuances I could not
distinguish. The Mrs., as usual, scarfed all but one slice of the
bread, and then required a second order of bread. Lucky for me
though, the herb-ed butter was a little bit too avant garde for the
Mrs., so I could monopolize it, those too few times when I was
able to snag a stray piece of bread.

The Mrs’. steak, was butter-flied and incinerated according to
her instructions, I did not taste it, as I normally do not care to eat
hockey pucks.

My steak arrived on the bone as advertised, and was about 16
ounces of charred exterior and juicy pinkness inside. The steak
had a good flavor and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They serve prime
beef here and treat it with respect. While I can’t say it was the
best tasting New York steak I have ever had, it was by far the
best tasting steak I have ever had in the Inland Empire. In terms
of a frame of reference, to my taste, the New York steak at
Morton’s is the epitome of a high end, fine steak experience. If I
were to apply a numerical rating, I would rate Morton’s New York
steak at a 10, and I would rate the Sycamore Inn’s New York
steak between an 8-1/2 and a 9. In terms of value, Sycamore
Inn's steak was outstanding value when factoring taste and
cost. The only improvement that I could see would be to dry age
the steaks, and for that I would be willing to pay more. I am
looking forward to going back and trying the Rib Chop (a twenty
ounce on the bone rib eye steak).

The sides were all outstanding. The mashed potatoes were
snow white and just the right degree of density, not too dense
and not too fluffy. They tasted of potato. The au gratin potatoes
were sublime. They consisted of very, very thin discs of potato,
with just a few thin slivers of yellow onion, suspended in a
warm, thick and creamy emulsion that had exactly the right
amount (not over powering) of Parmesan cheese. These
potatoes were tender, delicious and addicting. The sautéed
button mushrooms came with what seemed to be a wine
reduction sauce. The mushrooms were perfectly cooked and
the sauce was a rich and thick, with a dark brown color and
seemed to taste of sage and or rosemary, but had an overall
effect of tasting of the Earth. The mushrooms and their sauce
were perfect compliments to the steak. I ended up sopping up
the mushroom sauce remaining on my plate with a corner of
bread that I was able to pinch when the Mrs. was not looking.

For dessert we had a crème brulee and dr. bob’s chocolate
fudge ice cream. The custard was good, there just never seems
to be enough of this comfort food when dining out. The dr. bob’s
was a generous couple of scoops served inside a large wine
goblet, and as is the case with dr. bob’s, perfectly tempered with
a rich chocolaty taste, but no choco-alkalai aftertaste that is the
norm with mass produced ice creams that do not use premium
chocolate.

By the end of this meal, sinking back in to deepest recesses of
the chair was about all I could muster. This was an outstanding
meal.

The cost of one salad, two steaks, three sides, two desserts,
one glass of wine and two mixed drinks came to $105.00
(including tax, excluding tip).

This place is a real “keeper”.

Sycamore Inn
8318 Foothill Boulevard
Rancho Cucamonga
(Between Grove and Vineyard)
909.982.7782
Dal Rae Restaurant
(323) 723-4427
(562) 949-2444
9023 Washington Blvd
Pico Rivera, CA 90660
http://www.dalrae.com/

New York Grill
950 Ontario Mills Road
(Fourth Street exit, I-15)
Ontario
(909) 987-1928

Arroyo Chop House
536 South Arroyo Parkway
Pasadena
(626) 577-7463

Sycamore Inn
8318 Foothill Boulevard
Rancho Cucamonga
(Between Grove and Vineyard)
909.982.7782
Sycamore Inn Web Site
The Hitching Post: Plan Your Travel On 101 So
You Drive By Around Meal Time
June 28, 2005 at 02:16:33

So after furiously chewing sugar free gum for five hours while
on the road south from San Ramon, heading towards Chino,
we pulled Maybellene in to the lot outside of the Hitching Post in
Buellton Sunday evening, just as they were starting the first
dinner seating at 5:00 P.M.  The gum may have kept my
cravings occupied on a base level, but the lure of the Hitching
Post, and being steak deprived for longer than I can remember,
while on the Liquid Diet, led me to the decision to have an
enjoyable meal.

I had originally sniffed out the Hitching Post long before finding
discussion of it on Chowhound, and having regretted not
stopping in previously when we were in the neighborhood, I had
been lusting over my first taste of meat at the Hitching Post for a
few years.  It was finally time.  Dinner at the Hitching Post is
what I call the “old fashioned” kind, for the price of your meal you
get a relish tray and a basket of crackers as soon as you are
seated.  Then with your entrée you get your choice of a shrimp
cocktail or the soup of the day, you also get a salad, then your
main course, which is accompanied by your choice of starch.

The Mrs. and I were ravished after having spent the previous five
hours with our butts planted on Maybellene’s bucket seats.  I
really enjoy Maybellene who is a 2006 model year Chrysler 300
with the Hemi.  The lines of the car are the best of all the recent
model years, the interior is clean and elegant, the individual air
conditioning controls are cool (or warm as necessary) and the
satellite navigation system, with Maybellene’s voice guiding us
to our destination is far out.  But oh those seats, they are not
designed for long tours on the road.  So even though it is
difficult walking, even with the walker, it was nice to stretch our
legs and get off those seats.

We scarfed the carrots, celery, radish, pickles, Nicoise olives,
scallions and pepperoncinis in the relish tray, while the wife
sipped some white zinfandel and I had my first Crown Royal
and 7-up.  The wife did not feel like either shrimp cocktail or
soup, so I scored two shrimp cocktails.  The shrimp cocktails
that come with your meal at the Hitching Post consist of a
couple of ounces of bay shrimp, very tiny, with a little, tiny dollop
of cocktail sauce and a piece of lemon.  The shrimp comes on
a bed of finely diced celery.  So while not a big, robust, manly
shrimp cocktail, it was a rather nice little amuse.

The salads were a bit on the small side, but did consist of
mixed filed greens, which were appreciated.  We both elected to
have our salads dressed with Thousand Island, and they
salads hit the spot.  The Mrs. though she discerned some
buttermilk in the dressing, I did not, but I did notice that unlike
other renditions of Thousand Island dressing I have had, this
did not have a cloying sweetness to it.

The Mrs. had a half rack of baby back ribs, done on the
barbeque grill and a side of fries.  The Hitching Post puts a
spice rub on the ribs that they call “Magic Dust” and nothing
else, no sauce what-so-ever, either during or after grilling.  The
ribs, like the steaks are grilled over a Red Oak fire and come off
the fire tender, smoky and porky.  The wife thought they
reminded her of smoked pork chops, which is fitting, given the
wonderful smoky aroma imparted by the Red Oak.
I opted for the beef rib chop.  This was a gargantuan hunk of
meat weighing approximately 28 ounces, on the bone.  It also
had the house spice rub and was cooked medium rare, coming
to the table smoky, aromatic, with a tasty, “crusty-caramelized”
exterior, and pink juiciness as soon as I cut in to it.  The
Hitching Post does not advertise their meat as prime beef, only
as “… the best beef in America, sourced from small packers in
Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas and aged to our specifications.”  I
don’t think this was prime beef, but it did not matter.  The beef
was tender, flavorful, and juicy and had a wonderful smokiness
to it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and after extracting every last
morsel that I could with knife and fork, took that bad boy in my
hand and cleaned it to the bone.  The Hitching Post’s forte is
Santa Maria style barbeque, and they excel at it.

My beef was accompanied by a smallish baked potato, which I
enhanced with some sour cream and the generous portion of
real chives (not chopped up scallions that is foisted off in the
typical chain operation).  Besides the basket of crackers, a
breadbasket with two pieces of garlic bread is brought to the
table with the entrees.  I am really not in to bread, being on the
liquid diet, and the sample of the garlic bread that I had was
nothing to write home about.  We also ordered a side of
mushrooms that are first smoked on the grill then sautéed with
wine.  Mostly button mushrooms, but with the smoking and the
sauce were very nice, they come with some sourdough bread
slices that are handy for soaking up the wine sauce (the bread
though was very unremarkable, but it did not have to be anything
special, the wine sauce was everything.)

The Mrs. opted for strawberry short cake for dessert.  I sample a
taste of it, and if it hadn’t been for my diet, I could have eaten a
couple of helpings of that.  The wife remarked that the cake was
not like the “short cake” you get in the supermarket.  I reminded
her that the dreck you get in the supermarket is some kind of
industrial bakery sponge cake like stuff, not true, homemade
short cake that this was, with fresh whipped cream that it was
sweetened with sugar, it was very subtle, and fresh sliced
strawberries with their natural juice.

This was an outstanding meal, and while I blew the liquid diet, it
was an infrequent pleasure that was worth it.  The Hitching Post
is an exemplary venue for the art of Santa Maria style barbeque.

Total for one steak dinner, one half rack of baby back ribs
dinner, a side of mushrooms, one strawberry short cake, one
glass of white zinfandel, three Crown Royals came to $110.00
and worth every penny.

The Hitching Post II
406 E. Highway 246
Buellton, California
805-688-0676
The Hitching Post II
406 E. Highway 246
Buellton, California
805-688-0676
Hitching Post Web Site