Our final DineLA Restaurant Week selection was an old classic I had been dying to try out since last year. Kungfood Panda (please don't embarrassed me by not posting any reviews) and I decided to give it a go after Eileen Likes To Eat had a favorable dining experience just a few weeks prior.
The restaurant is located at a very forgotten city that reminds you of the old film noir days where Jake Gittes and Sam Spade would be doing a drive by to this part of LA where the town is close to the river bed that is classified as "Harbor Gateway". Pico Rivera (English translation to Tip Creek) would certainly fit that bill. I'm sure the city had seen its better days in the 60s and 70s where the Ford Motor company was right across the street and had their manufacturing plant before closing it in 1980. Some of the early B-2 Bombers were also being built at a plant right around the corner from this restaurant. Nowadays, the city is more residential with some redevelopment of chain restaurants and stores around the few plazas that are being remodeled in the city.
Del Rae opened in 1958, prided themselves as serving one of the best steak in L.A. while maintain its classy, elegant features that made it "the fine dining" of the late 50's and early 60's. Along with their rival Clearman N' Steins, these two had maintain what an iconic LA steakhouses would be like and set an early standard that LA had seen in a while until the crop of new steakhouses being built on the Northwest side of LA.
When you walked into this posh looking bar with leather booth tables that want to maintain the regal look of the long forgotten past, you just have the sense of aura in that Raymond Chandler wants to come by here and put this setting in his next mystery novel. Even the live entertainment of the night having a guy doing three instruments and singing Ricky Martin's "Superstitious" was out of this world.
The pre-fix three courses meal included an appetizer, main course, and a dessert for each diner in the Restaurant week special. Kungfood Panda and I decided to order different dishes so that we may taste each of the variety. There was a nice little bowl of cold vegetables to cleanse our palate right before our meal. It was very refreshing to get us going on a right note.
For our appetizers, we got the Crab Cakes and the Ahi Sashimi on Toast. Both looked it's cut in half in terms of portions. It would have cost both plates to be $13.95 where it would contain two crab cakes and a full round of ahi sashimi. I liked the crab cake as it was lavished with Chile and some Cilantro Cream Sauce to make it a more tender taste with the right flavor.
The sashimi on toast had some wild Greens, Capers, Onion, Feta cheese and remoulade underneath the fish. It was a doable starter that is not quite an amuse bouche, but not also not quite a filling starter.
Our main course had some entertainment presentation to it as we ordered a Duck a l'Orange, which was flambe cooking with orange liquor. Self fulfilling prophecy indicates that all things will burn to the ground flashes right before my eyes as I was having weird thoughts of fires with the flames being popped right in front of me in a very controlled manner.
Besides the duck, we also ordered their signature classic, Petite Filet Pepper Steak. Obviously we don't know what they meant in the menu by "pepper", but we would find out enough. Majority of these steak dishes would had cost around $35-$50, but we are only paying $34 for the entire 3 course meal. It somewhat led me to believe we are getting smaller dishes, which was fine for this special from Restaurant week.
I thought the best dish was the flambe Duck a l'Orange as it was tendered and maintain some of the sweetness of that orange liquor. The steak was.. as my dining buddy like to use his terminology for not bad.... was "solid". It wasn't bad, but not enough to wow us over. I know that they prided themselves with NY prime steak and their bone in porterhouse steak as the main attractions. The pepper steaks these days are the forgotten classics that will be soon to be savored only by the die-hards who love the steaks cooked in that style from the old days.
I honestly can see why the pepper steaks are not being offered more in most restaurants nowadays.
The desserts did some uplifting for us to cap the night. My choice of dessert was the Tiramisu which had Espresso, mascarpone, lady fingers with a dash of fresh raspberry sauce beautifully decorated around the plate. It was a fantastic dessert, but nothing compared to the one that my pal ordered, which was Gold Brick Sundae served in a lace cookie. You can see the ice cream being covered by frozen chocolate neatly presented in an edible wafer cookie bowl. That was also a fantastic dessert.
The service was actually pretty good as our waitress was very friendly to us for the entire evening and knew it was our first time here. Maybe the thought of us under the age of 40 have something to do with it or that we are the only ones that are not a couple or in a business meeting (the place have free wifi for wireless internet). It was very dim for that romantic occasion as you can tell by the low light pictures we took (as we didn't have any flash turned on).
As we started to leave the place, we tried to think on how the place looked and if we would come back to try something else. I did enjoy it enough to give it a go for a full meal where DineLA's special are more of tasting menu to get people in the door, which it did succeed in doing so. I'll probably need to order the lamb chop or the porterhouse ($46) next time.
For a dining experience in what we just had, I concurred with my bud Kungfood Panda.
It was very "solid".
9023 E. Washington Blvd
Pico Rivera, CA 90660