By Lisa Paredes
Malbec, in Toluca Lake, brings the flavors and style of Argentinian cooking to the Burbank area, with expertly-prepared steaks, fish and salads. Long a mainstay of the business lunch, making reservations or arriving on the early side is the best way to get your choice of seating on the patio or inside. On busy days, there is a back room that can hold latecomers.
While we have been eating at Malbec for years, we’ve only ever stopped by for lunch. Malbec is open into the evening for dinner and even has a Tapas and Wine Menu, served from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. The dinner menu is the traditional expansion of the lunch menu, providing more variety in appetizers and hearty options for steaks and fresh pastas.
Recently, we visited Malbec for a quick and early weekday lunch. We ate inside, as it was overly warm outside. The inside dining space is very live – when the room gets full, the noise level can get fairly loud. Malbec does a great job with portion size – plates aren’t overly big, but often, enough to share if family-style is your thing. Often, I get the steak salad and a glass of Malbec wine, but this most recent lunch, I was determined to spice things up and try some different plates.
Starting off the meal with a light red sangria served over plenty of ice and the homemade chimichurri sauce and soft pieces of bread was delightful. We deliberated between the always-delicious, buttery and garlicky Almejas y Mejillones Provenzal – a rustic broth of clams and mussels, and the slightly larger bowl of soup Cazuela del sur – a mixture of small shellfish and seafood in a tomato base, both served with crostini. We ended up trying something new for us, the Cazuela del sur. While the seafood soup was tasty, it just did not reach the heights that the clams and mussels always do, so it was a bit of a let down.
Our main entrees arrived: the Remolachas y Peras (Beets and Pears) and the Steak Milanesa (Breaded Steak.) The substantial salad tossed together yellow and red beets, roasted pears, tomatoes, walnuts and blue cheese crumbles on a bed of arugula, dressed with a light red wine vinaigrette. The pears were roasted to a soft, yet firm texture and a delicious complement to the beets, walnuts and cheese. The Steak Milanesa has changed in composition since our last visit to Malbec, turning out even more delicious. Beef tenderloin, pounded thin, breaded and fried, is served with avocado, tomato, lettuce and mozzarella, with a creamy aioli between two pieces of extremely soft and airy bread.
Our server was extremely attentive, and plates were cleared away quickly. By the time we had finished our early lunch, the place was packed. The food was delicious; the restaurant remains one of the better choices for lunch in the area. Malbec makes it high up On The Marquee, closing in on Tops In Town, because Malbec can always be relied upon for prompt service, clean amenities and dining room and consistently delicious food. Perhaps a visit in the future for tapas and/or dinner may change that rating.
Restaurant Info: Malbec is located at 10151 Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake, CA 91505. 818-762-4860. Open Monday – Tuesday 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Wednesday – Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., Saturday 12:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. and Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Malbec receives: On The Marquee
Tops In Town (Outstanding)
On The Marquee (Really Good)
Could Use A Rewrite (Average or Slightly Below)
Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Roadkill)