I'm going to try and sneak in one or two more posts before we leave for Spain next week, so here goes...
As I have mentioned, mid-20th Century steakhouse have become more than a passing fancy for me. It is the timeless ritual to which I am drawn as well as the manner of service that strikes me at once as charming, endearingly dated, and somewhat of an endangered species.
Based on the rich rewards of our forays into restaurants like Clearman's Steak 'N Stein Inn, we decided to pop over to another landmark dining establishment in Pico Rivera, CA, Dal Rae Restaurant. Family owned and operated since 1958, Dal Rae looks like the kind of place that Clark would take Vera for their fifteenth wedding anniversary, grumbling as he made sure that he had enough change to tip the valet, the maitre d', the bartender, the waiter, and the hat check girl. It looks like the kind of place that would inspire Vera to cinch her girdle extra tight, borrow Jean's Stone Martens, and splash on a little more perfume than necessary - you know, 50's fancy. For goodness sake, there isn't just one fleur de lis on the sign; there are four!!!
|Doesn't the sign just speak to the wonders within?|
I half expected to see Clark and Vera celebrating their
70th wedding anniversary - in early bird fashion.
In the worst case of wacky tacky bait & switch in recorded history, the beautiful signs (thankfully preserved) of Dal Rae Restaurant truly misrepresented what was to be found on the inside. Inside, Dal Rae is just - wait for it - a regular, contemporary restaurant!!! Apparently renovated in 1999, the interior of Dal Rae is fine. It is just fine. I have nothing terrible to say about the staff, the dining room, or the food. In fact, they were all quite nice...if that's what you're looking for. The appointments are clean and subtle, but we weren't looking for subtlety and the signs made a wacky tacky promise that they just could not deliver.
Therefore, instead of a full "Chow Time" review, we file Dal Rae Restaurant under "Signs of the Times," wishing that instead of valeting the car, we kept driving down Washington Boulevard, dreaming of the smoke-filled dining room of Dal Rae, circa 1958.
|Even the parking sign/marquee is awesome.|
On a side note, don't you just hate valet parking - especially unexpected valet parking? There is nothing worse than that thirty-second scramble to turn the radio down, dust the dashboard with the palm of your hand, throw everything into the back seat, and make the car look halfway decent for a valet parking attendant who probably doesn't care but leaves you paralyzed by the fear that he takes pictures of the inside of your car for his blog, entitled "Valet-Cam: The Grossest Car I've Ever Seen," or "Inside the Car of a Mad Man," or "Drivers of Wal-Mart," or something equally horrible.
Really, the worst part is handing over the keys and explaining all the tricks of the wacky wagon. "Okay, so you're not going to want to turn on the air conditioning; the brakes are a little squeaky but my mechanic assures me that brake failure is not imminent; if you have trouble putting it into gear, I've found that a quick prayer works really well; yes, the stability traction control warning light is always on; oh, and it's probably easiest to let yourself out the passenger side by rolling down the window and opening the door from the outside."
If you happen to find yourself in Pico Rivera, we definitely recommend driving by Dal Rae to check out the signs and then heading over to Steak 'n Stein Inn for a real wacky tacky dining experience.
Dal Rae Restaurant
9023 E Washington Blvd
Pico Rivera, CA