Taylor-made delight

Taylor-made delight

Taylor’s Steakhouse offers nothing but the best in food and prices 

By Dan O'Heron 02/21/2013

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As the sizzling platter approached our table at Taylor’s Steakhouse, I patted my stomach as if reassuring it that something within — that growling for action — would soon go away.

For the better part of three weeks, I had failed miserably to sprout affection for an all-vegetable diet, and just the thought of digging into a New York strip steak — one with a charred exterior covering a well-marbled, moistly pink inside — became a favorite fantasy. In fact, risking divine disapproval over something as mundane as a steak lunch, “amen” could have been my last word before taking that first bite.

The red oak-charbroiled, 10-ounce luncheon cut ($22.95) — tender and juicy — would live up to my fussiest expectations, as would the roasted loin of pork ($13.95), bathed in a special dressing, for my dining partner. Both of our dishes were complemented by delicious mashed potatoes. Pounded with butter, sour cream and milk, I think they started out as red potatoes. My friend, an athlete who had been getting his protein from diet supplements, looked up from his house-made applesauce and said, “I had forgotten how much I missed real meat.”

Before ordering lunch, for fun I asked the waiter, “Do you have any alfalfa sprouts?” Shooting me a wilting glance, he turned his head away. You don’t ask for alfalfa sprouts in an exclusive beef house. “We may have a few in the kitchen,” General Manager Anita Prata told me later, adding that they’ll fashion a few lo-cal, lo-carb meals on request.

Before our meaty orders gave us more respectful attention from our waiter, I asked for the famous “Molly” wedge salad as an appetizer. Cut from a big head of chilled iceberg lettuce, the wedge was bedded on a dressing made from a mixture of blue cheese and Italian, flecked with bits of onion and tomato. A perfect mate for steak, the “Molly” costs $5.95, but it’s big enough to be shared by two.

Lore has it that the salad was created by a now-retired waitress named Molly. Arguably the first-ever iceberg wedge, she put it together in the early 1950s at the original Taylor’s, which is still operating at the edge of downtown Los Angeles.

The original Taylor’s — as the story goes — was an in-crowd hangout. Here, you could get intoxicated without inviting the police, primarily because the chief of police might be sitting at the next table. Back then, the mayor, other politicians, actors and gangsters may have been seated nearby.

That the restaurant was pleasing to so many different types of loyalists helped it get through the 1980s and ’90s, a time when “nutrition police” were bashing meat and dairy products as if Elsie, the beast of Borden, were a mad cow.

A Zagat survey once proclaimed that Taylor’s was “a landmark with the best steak value around.” Today they are saying much the same thing about the La Cañada Flintridge location.

Like its predecessor, Taylor’s La Cañada is dedicated to providing aged and corn-fed prime beef — and certified Angus — at the best prices around. Complete lunch steaks range from $13.95 to $23.05; dinners run from $19.95 to $31.95. Prime rib au jus, with creamed horse radish, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes, costs $16.95 at lunch and $24.95 at dinner.

Some of the meats are charbroiled on a new Texas Wood-Show broiler. Unlike many other woods, red oak imparts a very delicate flavor, preventing the natural taste of beef from going up in smoke.

Like any classy steakhouse, the menu at Taylor’s La Cañada offers some fin and feather dishes as well. Seafood platters include the catch-of-the-day, sweet sand dab fillets, jumbo Gulf prawns and a deboned and pan-roasted one-half chicken. What’s more, drinking in the impressions of a well-selected wine list completes the picture of a place where libations, food, service and decor fit together snugly.

Entering through a small patio, visitors pass a dark bar where guests are more likely to lean in for single malt Scotch than minted mango vodka. Though the restaurant has the capacity to seat 178, four dining rooms are divided by knotty pine wood panels and designed lead glass. This creates a feeling you’re eating among friends and not dining out in public.

The next time I come in, it will be for dinner, and my aspirations will be loftier and more ambitious than the New York steak I had for lunch.

Taylor’s Steakhouse
901 Foothill Blvd.,
La Cañada Flintridge
(818) 790-7668
Full bar

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