Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Larsen's Steakhouse - A New Gem in the Valley (John's Birthday Part Deux)

As a Valley dweller, I get VERY excited when a new restaurant opens, particularly when one opens in Encino or Tarzana; where most restaurateurs just don't want to seem to want to venture.

Accordingly, I was thrilled when we inadvertently discovered Larsen's Steakhouse, located in that dated and borderline defunct atrocity that is Encino Place. (You know, the one with the merry-go-round that saw its heyday in the early 90's? Well, even if you don't know what I'm talking about - you might be better off.)

Anyway - the place used to be kind-of semi-interesting, but now the turnover rate is astonishingly high. I am hoping that Larsen's can turn that around.

That said, we went to Larsen's for the second time for John's birthday - and we were just as pleased as we were with our first visit. The service is fantastic, the decor is right up our alley - dark and cozy - the way an upscale steakhouse should be - and the food does not disappoint.

John was pleased as punch with his crab legs and shrimp cocktail.

I feel their petite filet mignon is worthy of particular note. It is served with what may well be the best bearnaise sauce I have ever had. (A nice contrast to the barely edible and nearly solidified hollandaise sauce from the same morning). Upon ordering my filet rare, the waitress was kind enough to inform me that their medium-rare is actually prepared the way it is intended to be - warm on the inside, but still rare. Good thing too, as I would've been disappointed with a truly rare, (in other words cold steak) - but typically you have to order it that way to get a true medium rare! Nice that these folks know the difference and are quick to point it out.

I was unable to stop either my wedge salad. Ordinarily a wedge salad isn't anything spectacular - it's a wedge of plain old iceberg lettuce with bacon crumbles, some tomato and blue cheese dressing. Well, I don't quite know what they do differently at Larsen's (outside of the addition of pecans) - but it works. The dressing is perfect.

I hardly paid attention to the alcohol on the table - which is a pretty good indicator that the food is the main attraction, as it should be!

On a fun note - you can see from the photo above that the restaurant is, as I mentioned, dark - and likewise, you might be thinking... 'How the hell am I supposed to read the menu?'

Well, they covered that. The menus are illuminated - and in a pretty, non-aggressive manner too. Quite cool - as are the salt and pepper shakers.

Of additional note is their outdoor seating. Despite overlooking construction across the street - the patio is lovely.

We hope they stick around.

Larsen's Steakhouse
16101 Ventura Blvd.
Encino, CA 91436
(818) 386-9500

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