The Taylor’s story is well known. Tex and Margie Taylor bought a tavern and turned it into a steakhouse back in 1953, at a location just west of downtown Los Angeles. In 1970, the popularity of Taylor’s prompted a move to a bigger place in the Mid-Wilshire area. When Tex and Margie retired in 1978, son Bruce took on the business, and in 1996, opened the steakhouse’s second location in La Cañada, remodeling it in 2009. It is still owned and operated, hands-on, by the Taylor family.
I’ve heard Taylor’s touted as the ultimate dining experience in La Cañada. It had been brought to my attention that I may be run out of town if I dared to criticize any bit of the Taylor’s experience, even the seemingly misplaced TV embedded in the wall of the dining room. Is it there to broadcast golf tournaments and Wall Street tickers? Perhaps. But certainly, Taylor’s atmosphere is tuned to a posh clientele over age 55, offering strong cocktails, dark, refined interior, and quality steak. You don’t wear flip-flops and jeans to Taylor’s, not even to the bar. Taylor’s is where you go not to eat but to dine. It is elegance with a dash of elitism, hinting at a bygone time when ladies always wore gloves, men ordered for them, and steak dinner was just about the most amazing thing, next to a diamond ring, a man could buy for his date.
Taylor’s menu could very well be a prop from the set of Mad Men. Seemingly based on FDA recommendations prior to the dietary desecration of the health values of white bread and heavy cream, Taylor’s menu is an Atkins’ devotee’s dream. While excellent seafood choices, such as halibut and lobster tail are provided, Taylor’s is a steakhouse, after all, and a traditional one at that. There are numerous cuts and styles of steak, which our server patiently explained, but there’s nothing edgy or modern on the menu, not even a mention of Kobe or grass-fed. Instead, classic choices like boneless rib eye, London broil, sirloin pepper steak, and prime rib tempt. Mushroom bordelaise, steak butter, horseradish, and au jus catch the eye. Corn with peppers was offered as a vegetable choice, along with creamed spinach or tomatoes. The baked potato comes with butter and sour cream. This was how America ate when it was creating suburbs and booming out kids, fueled on post-war optimism, giant cars, and space exploration. No wonder my parents could brag that when they were growing up they were always members of the clean plate club. Who wouldn’t be?
According to our server, the most popular choice for salad is the Molly Dinner Salad, a wedge of iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes that added color more than flavor, and barely noticeable onions – basically a crisp delivery vehicle for blue cheese dressing. At our table, the pepper steak, London broil, and culotte were ordered. All were cooked to perfection, perhaps a bit more rare than expected, but almost too good to chew, instead begging to be savored slowly by melting into the mouth, tender, juicy, and tasting clean and real. Yes, this is steak like Frank Sinatra ate.
Have another bottle of wine and don’t bother with dessert. The bread pudding was akin to a slice of wet fruitcake and the crème brulee wasn’t really bruleed. Oddly, while the steaks at Taylor’s could rival those served in the George Herbert Walker Bush White House, the desserts evoked more of a feeling of Hometown Buffet. But who cares after that steak?
Taylor’s is the place on the Upper East Side where your grandparents got engaged. It’s the place your Dad celebrated his graduation from Harvard Law. Taylor’s is the spot Uncle Freddy used to go to on Friday nights after work for a cocktail before heading home. Taylor’s is for adults who appreciate the rewards of being an adult. Taylor’s is steak dinner.
901 Foothill Blvd.
La Cañada-Flintridge, CA 91011