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Jun 8, 2002 12:49 AM

Dal Rae: A Little (Expensive) Trip Back In Time

  • c

I had to go in and work from the office an extra day this week today, so the Mrs. offered to carpool and be the designated driver. So I figured great, I would not have to deal with the traffic behind the wheel. That was my first and most costly mistake.

So we left the old homestead in Chino at 7:00 this morning and rode the carpool lane as far as it would go west on the 60, and she got me to work before 8:00. Figuring since I had got to the office earlier than I normally would, I decided to treat myself to breakfast in the company cafeteria. Mistake number two.

The regular grill man was apparently not there this morning. The second team guy’s idea of scrambling a couple of eggs is to pour the pre-beaten (I wonder if from real fresh eggs?) eggs on the grill surface, then walk away and fill three of four other orders. The come back, and scrape up the whole, over cooked, paper-thin (100 pound paper, grant you) thing, folding it over itself and put it on a plate. I would have been better off at home, back on The Liquid Diet.

The upside of carpooling, with the Mrs. in the driver’s seat, is that I don’t have to drive, and I get dropped off first in Monterey Park while she continues on to Glendale. The downside of carpooling, with the Mrs. in the driver’s seat, is I have to 1) call her and remind her in the late afternoon that she has a passenger, 2) receive the phone call at 5:30 to say she is just leaving the office, when she last told me she would be leaving at 5:00; 3) kill some time on a lazy Friday, going stir crazy because she is not there yet, and I have already cruised the Chowhound boards fifteen times.

So once in the car with the Mrs. we are on the 60 going nowhere in Friday evening traffic, and the Mrs. indicates to me she would like to make a “decompression” stop. Always the ever vigilant ‘hound that I am, my ears twitch, my chowbrain goes in to overdrive, and I ask, concealing the glee in my voice, “and where would you like to stop dear?” And, music to my ears, the good woman responds, “someplace where I can get some real food, I’m hungry.”

So I direct the Mrs. to exit the 60 at Rosemead and we head south towards Washington Boulevard and Dal Rae.

Dal Rae, if you haven’t been there is a very retro restaurant experience, something out of the 1960’s maybe. It reminded me very much of the old Papa Choux that for a time was one of the in places for business lunches, dinners and various assignations for the downtown L.A. crowd (what with Papa Choux’ continental menu and private, curtained booths and all). Very dark, red leather booths, plenty of help hovering around. Very good service. A nice experience, once in a very great while.

We ordered a bottle of Riesling, of which I consumed the majority of, after all, I had to do my part to help the designated driver. The Mrs. worried over the extensive menu a very long time, I think some of it was the fact that she had not seen the likes of Dal Rae’s entree selections in a long time, and maybe also she was experiencing a little sticker shock. But she finally settled on fried shrimp, a baked potato and a tossed salad. I ordered Prime Rib, garlic mashed potatoes and the Manhattan chowder.

Immediately upon being seated we were served a classic relish tray and a bread basket. The Mrs. remarked to me, in a not very friendly tone, that the bread was not warm. The basket contained, however, some nice sourdough bread and some nice looking lavash. The Mrs. enjoyed the lavash, and seemed to enjoy the sourdough, because as usual, she was scarfing bread and butter. The Mrs’. salad was tossed at the table by the waitress and looked appetizing. I enjoyed my cup of chowder, this was a creamy Manhattan, and it was quite tasty. Garlic cheese toast was presented with the soup and salad. This made the Mrs. happy.

The Mrs. plate held about a half dozen jumbo butter flied shrimp with a beer batter like coating. There was a red-cocktail dipping sauce and a Remoulade dipping sauce. The Mrs. did not enjoy her shrimp as much as I know she would have liked to. Because of that fact, and the fact that she had, as usual, OD’d on bread, I was offered the last two shrimp. The shrimp themselves were very good, the batter was a bit on the damp side (probably steamed between the time it was plated and covered and left on a counter in the kitchen, and when it was finally received and uncovered at the table). The Mrs. did seem to enjoy the baked potato.

The Prime Rib was a generous large cut of meat on the bone. In the realm of my Prime Rib experiences I would rate this better than most I have had, but not as good as the best I have had. It was swimming in its nice meat juices on the plate and was accompanied by a container of creamed horseradish. I polished off the entire slab of beef, and was tempted to pick-up the bone and knaw on it, but I had already soiled the family name by soiling the white tablecloth with a drop of chowder, so I figured I better mind my manners. (It was certainly fortuitous that I had selected a black shirt this morning.)

The garlic mashed potatoes were just so-so, I have definitely had better. Both entrees were also accompanied by some very nice mixed steamed, but crunchy vegetables (baby green beans, slivers of carrot, slices of zucchini, and slivers of red pepper).

We passed on dessert and the Mrs. had a cup of coffee. The Mrs. did give the coffee a two thumbs up, so given the fact that the Mrs. has carpel tunnel syndrome in both thumbs, and sometimes can barely move them, and then in much pain, this was very high praise indeed for the Dal Rae coffee.

Dinner, wine, tax and tip came to $128.00, plus a tip for the parking valet. Somehow, I don’t think carpooling with the Mrs. was a very wise economical decision this morning. (Well at least she paid for the gas.)

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  1. It seems that your choice to "carpool with the Mrs" is proving expensive for me to! After reading your post I was persuaded to suggest to my father, who was visiting from the East Coast, that we should try the Dal Rae too.

    We went last night. This morning my belt seems quite a bit tighter than just a day ago.

    Lobster Thermador, Oysters Rockafeller, Pepper Steak, Ceaser Salad, Garlic Toast, Baked Potatoes (with the works), Bananas Flambe... and one or two tasty libations to wash it all down.

    It was all so very good. And so very diet too!

    We also were very impressed by the enthusiasm and apparent genuine affection the staff has for the Dal Rae. They seemed to really love the place, and their pride was carried over into their performance. We loved the tableside service for the Ceaser Salad and the Bananas Flambe. All done with a great deal of drama and flourish. It was great! The owner even stopped by to delight us with a great story about the restaurants history (funny at the time, but not worth repeating here).

    Anyway Chino, the next time you carpool with your wife, keep in mind how it might affect all of us too!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Creamfinger

      You ordered all my favorites. 10-12 thousand calories, at least. Yum!

      1. re: russkar

        Here's a solution to the price problem (if you wait for it). Once a year, for a week, Dal Rae celebrates their birthday by offering their standard cut of Prime Rib for only $9.95 (at least in 2001). Have fun!

      2. re: Creamfinger

        You know a meal is "retro" when the adjectives follow the nouns ....

        Lobster Thermidor, Oysters Rockefeller, Steak Diane, Potatoes Gratin, Cherries Jubilee, Bananas Flambe...


      3. Not on the menu at the Dal Rae but always available is the absolutely delectable fish "a la Ben." I always have halibut, but other types are available. It's fish cooked in a crust of parmesean and topped with sauteed Maui onions. You won't believe your tastebuds.

        1. g
          grammar police

          "The Mrs’. salad was tossed at the table by the waitress and looked appetizing"