Having wound up this year needing to make last-minute reservations for Mother’s Day, I settled on Steakhouse 55 for the very good reasons that
a) They give an AP discount,
b) They still had reservations Sunday afternoon.
Steakhouse 55 is located in the Disneyland Hotel, just off the Lobby and next door to Goofy’s Kitchen. Renamed from the old Granville’s restaurant, the title and decor is supposed to be a callback to 1955, when Disneyland opened and Hollywood was still hanging on to its glamor days.
The lighting is subdued and the walls are covered with large black-and-white photos of famous celebrities laughing and eating at what might be the Brown Derby (you can see the edges of some of the trademark caricatures in some of the photos) or what might be some other posh eatery. The booths are deep with high backs that call back memories of Lucille Ball peering over at William Holden.
The cuisine is straight steakhouse fare, as might have been expected. Nothing too fancy or surprising was served, but what was presented was largely well prepared.
Actually, one of the things I was most impressed about was the bread — it was served piping hot from the oven and was as soft and crusty as you always hope french bread will be.
A few of us ordered the prix fixe menu, which came with a small, but respectable, Caesar Salad.
The Spring Greens came with candied pecans and a raspberry vinaigrette that was appreciated particularly for the fresh berries that dotted it.
The petite New York Steak on the prix fixe menu was actually the only one that came with its own side dish — garlic and herb smashed potatoes. It was perhaps a trifle underdone for the medium rare I ordered, but not to the point where I expected it to start mooing and chewing its cud, as is sometimes the case in restaurants.
This was the 12 oz. Roasted Prime Rib — we couldn’t imagine how big the 16 oz. would have looked.
Then we had the seafood–the Broiled Atlantic Salmon…
…and the Halibut Steak.
So the problem with eating in a group is that, unless you’re willing to stick your fork into other people’s dinner, you’re dependent on the input of others as to how the food was. All anyone said about the fish was, “I liked it! It was really good,” despite my gentle insistence that it wasn’t going to make compelling reading.
In addition to the main dishes, we also ordered sides of sauteed mushrooms, green beans, and broccoli. Of the three, the mushrooms were definitely the best, being a seasonal assortment cooked in a red wine sauce, and the broccoli was definitely the least inspiring, resembling and tasting just like a large, minimally seasoned crown of broccoli.
The desserts came at last — I thought the prix fixe Seasonal Tart was very good, with rhubarb/strawberry filling and a crisp crust topped with caramel ice cream. The colorful swirls were fruit-flavored, although I always find it awkward to try to scrape sauce like that up off the plate without looking like you may start licking it clean at any time.
The only other dessert we sampled was the creme brulee, which came with collated cookies filed neatly in a candy ribbon. The top might have been harder, but I usually think that unless the sugar is melted into a sheet of glass the width of safety windows.
Ultimately, I think my opinion of the restaurant was that it was a nice place to have a reliably good meal. The menu choices aren’t going to wow anyone as they would at Napa Rose, and the steak is probably not quite as good as at the Ruth’s Chris Steak House down the road on Harbor Boulevard, but the prices are probably a good $10-$20 cheaper per person. The atmosphere inside of understated elegance and nostalgia is charming, although I can’t help but think children might find it a little on the unstimulating side.
With its ties to the Old Hollywood of Walt’s time, Steakhouse 55 will make a nice counterpoint to the new and future theme of “Disney’s California Adventure.” Actually, if they wanted to remake it again into another replica of the Brown Derby, it doesn’t seem as though it would take much — and would provide a themed eating experience that doesn’t revolve around Princesses or Characters for a change.