Sunday, May 18, 2014

Famed San Fernando Valley hangout Sportsmen’s Lodge gets a major facelift

by guest blogger @iam_robot

17.55.27Sportsmen’s Lodge, once known as San Fernando Valley’s fixture for fine dining and celebrity scene, is banking on high-priced makeovers to boost more visitors and to compete with newer, much more contemporary venues opening up blocks away.

The hotel – located strategically on Ventura Blvd and Coldwater Canyon Avenue - opened 52 years ago and was a popular hangout spot for movie writers, stars, producers – Clark Gable, Katherine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Humphrey Bogart are frequent guests.  Rumor has it, these celebrities were very fond of the trout-fishing lake. They were given rods and bait to catch their fish and make dinner, courtesy of the lodge’s restaurant. However, in 1971, fishing activity at the lodge was shut down by the Department of Public Health due to the San Fernando earthquake.

During my hotel tour, I was able to peek into one of their renovated rooms. Not only bright new linens and carpet were installed; huge window overlooking their over-sized swimming pool, free WIFI, flat screens are becoming the standard. 
The hotel also modernized their outdated-looking lobby, hallway and kitchen with California Coastal scheme of white, orange, blues, and other earthy tones. I thought the rustic décor coupled with the white marble tiling and stylish chairs at the lobby feel very cozy and intimate. Not to mention, the front patio has a beautiful fire pit, quite a pleasant spot for those date nights.
Moving along to the dining area, The Patio Cafe has a very tropical feel with the white and orange décor. Walls were strewn with collages of classic Hollywood actors – and yes, as an avid TCM fan, I took pride in being able to name all the actors shown there. Overall, the dining area feels like a modern 1920s diner – think of Mel’s Drive In with a chic décor. The food and drink offerings espoused unique lingos paying homage to 60’s classic shows – such as The Brady Bunch (Fried Chicken and mashed potatoes), Giligan’s Island (Beer Battered Fish & Chips), Leave it to Baver (Baked Turkey Breast with stuffing), etc.

Below is a list of food/ drink offered to me throughout the night :
Started the night with 2 cocktails – Fred and Ginger (pictured) and Blonde Bombshell. Fred & Ginger (Bourbon, ginger beer, lemon twist) was a tad sweet to my liking but I liked the balance of fizz and tangy here. Perhaps, a double bourbon would make this the perfect drink. On the other hand, Blonde Bombshell  (gin, lemonade, basil) felt a bit watered down as well. Appreciate the fresh lemonade here but a good Tom Collins (according to me) should taste more piney and biting rather than sweet. More gin please J

Ahi Poke Salad – Wasn’t quite sure what’s in the bowl but I’m taking a wild guess here – think I nailed it. I thought this dish felt very refreshing. Love the freshness of the Ahi mixed with cucumber, avocado, wontons served on top of white rice drenched in house sauce (sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil). Very simple but I can eat a tub of these.
Fish Taco – Another comfort food. Beer Battered fried fish served with coleslaw and avocado taco style. Really liked the crispy texture of the fish, however, the fish could use some seasoning –a little salt and tangy would go a long way. The mildness of the white fish along with the creaminess of the coleslaw and avocado made the dish felt very milky.

The Brady Bunch (Fried Chicken, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, gravy, and s’mores bar)
I was very happy when I saw the presentation - I haven’t seen a compartmentalized plate since my college days devouring Hungryman. Nevertheless, I thought the fried chicken here was well spiced, with a good crunch on the skin. I don’t know about you but I still prefer my fried chicken on the moist side – I wished these chickens weren’t so dry. Luckily, the homemade gravy saved the day! Gravy was hearty – thick in texture, beefy, buttery and very flavorful. Lastly, the s’mores bar was very good as well, though it tasted more like soft baked s’mores cookie. I’d prefer a crunchy texture.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect coming in here, but overall I was pretty happy with the experience. Barring the limited drinks and food selection, I thought the Patio Kitchen could be a good place for a light snack or to gather with friends. They definitely have other things on the menu I am curious to try (bacon wrapped meatloaf, tofu lasagna) and I am totally willing to give it a second visit. Definitely a good place for a hearty traditional comfort food. 

The Patio Cafe
Sportsmen's Lodge
12825 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 769-4700
Patio Cafe on Urbanspoon


Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital