I've waited far too long to gush about The Barkley. Oh, there are other classic Los Angeles establishments that feel like something imagined by Raymond Chandler or Orson Welles. Musso and Franks is one. The Formosa Cafe is another. But those places are in Hollywood. The Barkley is right here in South Pasadena at the corner of Fremont and Huntington. From the moment you notice the sign promising live music and dancing, you get a feeling this restaurant is a blast from a distant past. The one before we thought about cholesterol, where everyone ordered a second martini before dinner arrived.
When you step into The Barkley, you get the urge to hear something by Tony Bennett. It's a classic mix of dim lights, dark wood and shiny brass with fussy chatchkas on the wall and neatly folded napkins on the tables. The Barkley menu is pages upon pages long, with dozens of classic dishes arranged under alliterative subject headings and fetched with elan by an old-school, professional wait staff that, honestly, should be the subject of a documentary. This not a hipster place inspired by great steakhouses. This really IS a great steakhouse. It's not a spot the Sex in the City characters would have ever appeared -- though they clearly missed out, because the wine glasses are more like fish bowls. But it is a place where the Sopranos would would have felt comfortable enough to argue loudly in one of the dark, leather booths before patching things up over cheesecake.
I recently had dinner at The Barkley with friend and fellow Southern California blogger Yakpate. We thought the New York Strip steaks we ordered were the best we'd ever had. No, they weren't unique or cutting edge or nouvelle -- just simple and delicious and perfectly prepared. And did I mention those fishbowl-size wine glasses?
You can read more about The Barkley here.