This is a guest post written by Katie Brandenburger. Read all about Katie here.
Park Avenue Dining
Deep in the heart of a city not well known for fine dining restaurants (and not well known at all, quite frankly) lays a beautiful mid-century modern establishment with a menu so fresh and delicious it will make your head spin.
Walk through the front doors and step back in time to an era where Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack ruled the world and ate like kings. Had Sinatra and the boys still been around, I’d be willing to bet they’d belly up to the bar to grab a drink, then saunter over to a table with low lighting and rustic décor, all the while laughing, joking and smoking cigars.
Though smoking cigars is no longer allowed, the Rat Pack vibe is very much alive and well at Park Ave. Restaurant in Stanton, CA. From decadent signature cocktails to menu items carefully constructed with ingredients grown in an onsite organic garden, this place is worth the price of admission – which I will admit is fairly steep.
(There is no photo of the bread because when our waitress said “bacon bread,” I just lost it for a solid 5 minutes as I devoured the bread, forgetting that the sole purpose of my visit was to photograph and review the meal)
The bread was so delicious that our server came to our table and presented (yes, presented–you’ll understand why in a moment) a bread basket she strategically placed on our table. This was no ordinary bread, folks. This was an onion baguette and – wait for it –bacon bread. Yes, you read that correctly – bacon. I think I could pretty much end my review right here and nearly every single one of you would go banging down their doors. Back to the review. Served with the onion baguette and bacon bread is a light and faintly sweet apple butter. Delish.
Prior to dinner, my husband and I each ordered a Park Ave. signature cocktail. My husband ordered the “Perfect Old Fashioned,” and I the “P.A.G. Margarita.” (Note: “P.A.G.” stands for Park Ave. Garden—meaning the drink or dish was made with ingredients grown in the onsite organic garden). Both drinks were the type of cocktail meant to be sipped and thoroughly enjoyed, and in my opinion, one was enough for each of us before dinner.
For dinner we decided to share the “Nutella Martini,” which ended up not being much of a dinner drink, but more of a dessert. Read on to find out why.
Perfect Old Fashioned
- Made with Johnny Walker Red, Orange Bitters, and Satsuma peel from the Park Ave. garden.
- Taste: Strong and sweet with a robust Orange Bitters taste.
- Made with Hornitas tequila, P.A. bees’ honey, house-made sweet and sour.
- Taste: A kick of tequila with a fairly sweet honey-kissed flavor, giving the drink a freshness not usually found in traditional margaritas
- Made with Chopin vodka, chilled up with Nutella.
Dear Lord in Heaven. I made the mistake of ordering this with dinner (what was I thinking?! I blame it on my mind being blown by the first round of drinks and the bread/appetizers). This drink is like taking a tiny taste of chocolate frosting from a cake cloaked in 24-karat gold. This drink is dessert. I would tell you to just order this drink at the end of your meal and sip it as your dessert; but I simply cannot. The desserts are in a league of their own, and definitely not to miss.
- Ingredients: Chard, spinach, tatsoi, Parmesan, sea salt, lemon.
This unusual dish is very deceiving. On the surface (the ingredients described on the menu), it is not something I would not normally order due to the extremely healthy nature of the dish. However, Chef and our server raved about the taste of it so we had to try it. It was incredible! The flash-fried greens with a hint of oil, salt and pepper were perfectly complemented by the Parmesan cheese and lemon. My husband and I both agreed the flavor reminded us of Parmesan French fries, believe it or not. A melt-in-your mouth concoction; I highly recommend it.
Restaurant menu options were elegant and creative, without the super-fancy, scary sounding items I can never pronounce. I shudder at the thought of eating something I couldn’t pronounce, at the server’s suggestion, then turning white as a sheet as my stomach turned when she asks, “how was your beef tongue and sheep’s eye stew?” Thank goodness you won’t find anything even remotely like that on the menu here.
The Special of the Day: Bone-in Pork Chop with P.A.G. Green Beans and Twice-Baked Potatoes
The most deliciously moist and flavorful pork chop I have tasted since the last time I cooked them in my own kitchen, of course. Ha! Not even close, unfortunately. I seriously can’t remember when I’ve had better. The greens were lightly crunchy with the freshness I expected coming from an organic garden. The twice-baked potatoes? O.M.G.! In the 21 years I have been on this planet (give or take 12 years), I have never tasted a twice-baked potato – or any type of potato for that matter – like the one I did that evening. It was almost magical. I swear the heavens opened up and Angels began to sing as I took my first bite, then it was all over from there.
Thick Cut, 14 oz. Prime USDA New York steak
This center cut slice of tender beef deliciousness came perfectly flavored and precisely cooked to my husband’s liking. At least one or two times I caught him with his eyes rolled to the back of his head as he savored the juicy tenderness of each bite. Though potato and gruyere gratin came with the steak on the menu, my husband opted for the Bleu cheese mashed potatoes instead. No offense to the potato and gruyere gratin at all – prior to our visit he checked out the menu online and had set his sights on the Bleu cheese mashed potatoes. From there, it was love at first sight. And yes, I am secure enough in our relationship to have allowed the love affair to continue.
And as if that feast fit for a king wasn’t enough, our server revealed a torturing device unique to the restaurant, also known as the dessert menu. And torture it did. All the selections! Where to start? One of each, please? That’s not gluttonous at all, right? Please don’t judge me. All desserts are made in-house. We ended up ordering only one dessert (oh, the regret of not ordering more!): the Cobbler with Apple and Cranberry, which came with a perfectly paired scoop of vanilla ice cream. At this point in my review, I know I’ve exhausted nearly every adjective I have in my vocabulary describing the above deliciously concocted creations. But seriously O.M.G. Knocked out in the last and final round: Katie Brandenburger. In all fairness, I never stood a chance.
Behind the restaurant you’ll find Park Ave.’s organic garden, where they pull many ingredients from. Arugula, lettuce, herbs, artichokes and so much more. After you’ve dined, stroll over to the garden and check out the rows and rows of organic goodness for an appreciation of what went in to creating your delicious dinner.
Chef also mentioned that they had more than 600,000 bees onsite; and while I took many photos of all the fruits and veggies in the garden, I do admit I simply took him at his word on that one. Not sure how kindly bees take to flash photography, and I wasn’t going to wait around to find out!
Good to Know
If you are looking for a romantic, quiet and cozy place to eat, unfortunately this restaurant doesn’t quite fit the bill. My husband and I arrived for a reservation at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday evening, and it was calm and pretty quiet until about 7:30 p.m. By 8 p.m. it was loud to the point where my husband and I had to move closer to each other to hear one another speak. In the restaurant’s defense, we had two large tables flanking us as we dined in a corner booth.
The staff was very attentive, from the valet to the wait staff, the bartenders and of course the Chef – our entire evening was nearly perfection from the moment we pulled in the drive.
In conclusion, yes – I kind of liked this place. ☺
Suggestion: Make reservations, and mind the dress code.
For more information visit Park Avenue Dining on Facebook.