Tag Archives: burbank nightlife

Castaway Burbank Debuts Chef’s Table Experience

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.

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View of Burbank from the hidden cocktail lounge at Castaway. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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.

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Amuse-bouche of steak tartare, lobster corn dog and pork belly. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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.

castaway burbank

Pumpkin veloute. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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.

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A 5 deckle, short rib and rare New York steak.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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.

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Dessert Destroyer. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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.

Chef’s Table and the hidden cocktail spot The Green Room are available on Friday and Saturday evenings and by advance reservation only. More information can be found on the Castaway website.

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.


Happy Hour Reviews: Guisados

Having grown up in a Latin-American household, finding authentic tacos nearby, and at a reasonable price is always a treat. With so many restaurant options to chose from in downtown Burbank, Guisados makes a play at becoming the premier destination spot for anyone looking eat during Happy Hour.

Guisados originated in Boyle Heights, in December 2010. The restaurant was created by a father and son duo, Armando De La Torre Sr. & Armando De La Torre Jr. Since 2010, Guisados has opened at five locations. Their newest location, here in Burbank, opened in October 2016, and is located at 312 N San Fernando Blvd Burbank, CA 91502.

What sets Guisados apart from other Latin-American restaurants is the care put into their dishes. Guisados features handmade corn tortillas, which are made daily, and an assortment of braises to choose from. Each meat, whether it is pork, beef, fish, or chicken, is stewed for a long period of time.

Currently, there are fourteen different taco options, with two additional quesadilla options. Their entire menu is gluten free, and the restaurant offers vegetarian and vegan options. Each taco is also priced at $2.95 each, expect for their seafood options, which is priced at $3.25 each. If you are unsure about what you want to order, the restaurant also features a “sampler” option which includes six mini-tacos from their menu, for $7.25. It’s also worth noting that, given the time of the year, Guisados also serves fresh tamales everyday. However, once the tamales are gone, they’re gone for the day.

Having had the opportunity to try most of the menu at Guisados, I have to say that one of the best attributes about the restaurant is its consistency. Whether you are taking your first bite into one of their tacos, or taking your 100th bite, the tacos never drop in quality. For those of you who enjoy tacos on the spicy side, you’ll be happy to know that the default level of all tacos are classified as “medium” spiciness. However, there is one exception to this rule, the Chiles Toreados, which is listed as “extremely spicy” should only be reserved for spice-veterans.

As far as non-alcoholic drinks, Guisados offers up the following:

Jamaica: Hibiscus iced tea

Melon: Cantaloupe water

Armando Palmero: 2/3 Limon, 1/3 Jamaica

Limon: Lemon, Lime water

Horchata: Cinnamon rice milk.

The restaurant itself two seating areas, one inside and one outside. Seating inside is more plentiful and does numerous tables that can be pushed together, and a large bench-like booth. The interior of the restaurant also features artwork and photography from local artists, some of which is available to purchase. On the opposite side of the featured artists is a mural depicting the story behind Guisados. On one end, there is a painted image of the first ‘Guisados’ in Boyle heights, and as you follow the wall, you in turn follow Guisados’ journey across Los Angeles.

Happy Hour runs everyday from 3:00 – 7:00 PM. There are no discounts on their tacos, however, there is a discount on all alcoholic beverages. Currently, Guisados serves Modelo, Modelo Black, Pacifico, and Coronas. Each beer is priced at $3 during happy hour.

So whether it’s a late lunch, or an early dinner, Guisados is place where you can pick up a light meal or fill up on tray-full of tacos. For any taco-lovers in Burbank, I strongly encourage you to try Guisados.

If you’d like to check out Guisados’ menu, you can do so HERE.

Luna Vine Wine Bar Soft Opens In Magnolia Park

After the requisite many, many months of hurdles and hoop jumping, Luna Vine Wine Bar opened its doors last Wednesday, January 29. While the grand opening is planned for February 20, the soft open has been busy already, as people flock to this new food, wine and nightlife option in Burbank.

Luna Vine built up buzz over the past year, hosting wine dinners and tastings around town, often in connection with the popular monthly Magnolia Park event Ladies Night Out.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Wine director Nick Caballero has put together an expansive selection of approximately 40 wines and five draught beers to accompany executive chef Wesley Pumphrey’s small menu of a variety of salads, meat and cheese plates, duck rillette, Kumamoto oysters, beet-cured hamachi, beef carpaccio, lamb meatballs and a dessert of pistachio biscotti with spiced chocolate.

Servers and diners alike have already been smitten with the daily bread from Wild Oats and the freshly-churned butter made in the kitchen from cream and chardonnay salt.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

While bigger plans and longer hours are in the works, currently the wine bar is open daily, Sunday through Thursday 4:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. and until midnight Friday and Saturday evenings.

The narrow, elongated space is all clean lines and refined color, touched with wood tables and chairs that look rough yet feel sleek. Bare bulbs and exposed rope and wire complete the rustic yet chic look. Luna Vine is located at 3206 W. Magnolia Blvd. in Magnolia Park.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)