Recently renovated and reopened Castaway Burbank has added a prix fixe Chef’s Table experience to upscale hilltop restaurant.
For $125 per person, Executive Chef Perry Pollaci will create and help serve a six-course meal for two to 10 people seated just outside the kitchen, off the main dining room area. Diners can add on a wine pairing for $50.
Upon arrival, Chef’s Table diners are ushered to Castaway Burbank’s exclusive The Green Room, for an complimentary drink. Our cocktail of the evening was absinthe, which is a bit of an odd choice. The absinthe tasted fine, but we would have been much happier with champagne or a simple cocktail.
The bartender, Phil, did make some specialty drinks for us, that we unfortunately weren’t able to finish before being escorted to dinner. The sips of the Belle, Short Round and Steampunk Innovation we tasted warrant a future visit to The Green Room.
After walking by the dry room for curing meat, made with bricks of pink Himalayan salt, and the glass-walled wine closet, we were then seated at the Chef’s Table banquette and served a glass of house pinot noir.
Our meal began with an amuse-bouche trio of small bites: a mini cone filled with steak tartare, creme fraiche and caviar, a lobster corn dog on a bed of black truffle shavings and pork belly topped with fish eggs. I particularly enjoyed the steak tartare with its excellent blend of textures and flavors.
Pollaci then brought us a wild salmon belly poached in olive oil under a heat lamp. It was exquisitely soft and tender. Accompanied by persimmon, smoked mushroom, a frothy ginger aromatic and forbidden rice, the dish was colorful and delicious, with a bit of a spicy kick.
The pumpkin veloute was one of the standouts of the evening. Served in a hollowed-out white miniature pumpkin, the veloute (a savory sauce) was a creamy pumpkin soup accented with chunks of lobster, Chinese 5 spice blend and fromage blanc. Absolutely stunning in taste and texture.
We were then served raw zabuton-cut wagyu steak, a searing hot pink Himalayan salt brick and a host of sauces and toppings, including truffle butter, egg yolk, ponzu, scallion, togarashi, shallot marmalade, bearnaise, miso butter, pickled ginger and various salts and peppers.
After cooking the wagyu on the 800-degree pink brick, we had fun exploring the various toppings and dips. The steak was terrific, marbled and tender, with nice flavor from being seared. It was perfect on its own without a sauce, too.
To cleanse our palates after the richness, we followed Pollaci’s suggestion and each nibbled on a “buzz button.” The bright yellow Sichuan flower bud makes one’s lips and tongue tingle for a short time. It’s a rather enjoyable experience, but probably not for everyone.
Then Pollaci brought out plates of three different steaks – rare grass fed New York steak, A 5 deckle (premium wagyu rib eye) and a smoky sweet short rib. The deckle was tasty but a little overly fatty for my personal taste. The short rib was spot on. My favorite was the tender New York steak – it was the perfect bite for me that evening.
The steaks were accompanied by grilled broccolini, pomme aligot (mashed potatoes), bordelaise and a chianti jus.
We were then served a small rectangle of grilled cheese made from poppy seed bread and truffle. It was super rich and overly truffled for my liking.
But then we were blown away by the aptly named Dessert Destroyer. The pastry chef, Stephanie, brought us a huge assortment of sweets, small cakes, ice creams, sorbets, bread pudding, lava cake, chocolates and more. A fruity, rum-infused tres leches cake and a champagne-topped raspberry sorbet were our favorites.
Castaway was already On The Marquee in our review of the main dining room a few months ago. With this most recent visit, there still was a bit of confusion happening at the front host area, and the hostess talked a bit brusquely to her coworkers in front of people waiting to be seated. Our escort from the bar to the table lost half the group on the way and it took several minutes to be reunited with our party.
But all in all, we were delighted with The Green Room and Chef’s Table.
With the exception of the absinthe and the grilled cheese missteps, we found Castaway Burbank’s Chef’s Table to be a special and top-notch experience and meal. We’re curious to see what Pollaci comes up with at a future Chef’s Table dinner.
Pollaci’s Chef’s Table menu changes frequently and is specific to each individual seating. The plates do sometimes draw from dishes available in The Green Room, but generally are not available on the main menu. The fabulous pumpkin veloute is only available at the Chef’s Table.
Restaurant/Bar Info: Castaway is located at 1250 E. Harvard Road, Burbank, CA 91501.
(818) 848-6691. Castaway is open for dining Monday through Thursday 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The bar is open one hour later than the kitchen, daily.