DineLA Restaurant Week came around and as usual, the two higher-end restaurants in Arcadia-- The Derby and Sesame Grill-- were participating again. Since we've visited Sesame Grill recently, we decided to switch it up and re-visit the Derby. After all, from our last visit, the owners have changed, there's now a giant sign on the exterior proclaiming 15+ USD early bird dinner specials, among other changes.
We were slightly surprised to see that we had to wait for an inside spot, and unwilling to wait the 30 minutes advised for indoor seating, we asked for outdoor seating. This contributed greatly to taking better pictures for this post, even if it meant viewing all the cars entering/leaving the valet parking lot!
The menu didn't change much from its past, but there was definitely an emphasis on quality of ingredients, with one page dedicated to explaining their poultry and beef suppliers. After ordering, our waiter brought us a complimentary platter of garlic cheese toast, but first let us pick a piece off the platter before setting the platter on the table-- interesting touch. The toast had a thick crust, crisp exterior, soft interior, and background garlic and cheese flavors-- a nice start, if a bit oily.
With the DineLA dinner menu (45 USD) we were able to have an appetizer, main course, and dessert. One companion tried the crabcake, which came with a red pepper aioli and roasted corn salsa. I found it awkward how the greens were just randomly spread across the dish. The crabcake itself had plenty of crab (not jumbo lump), with a primarily savory flavor with some brightness coming in from the salsa and tomato. Meanwhile, the aioli and avocado bounded everything together.
Likewise, I thought my cajun lobster bites with mango habanero sauce had some awkwardly placed mixed greens. Here, three large meaty lobster pieces were dusted with cajun seasoning, then battered and fried. I found this preparation overpowering, with the spicy cajun seasoning and savory crisp exterior masking the lobster's sweetness. The mango sauce countered those two aspects of the dish by providing some sweetness, but more background heat.
From the regular menu, one companion ordered the Scalone Almondine, which was scallops and abalone sauteed in egg batter and topped with almonds, and requested vegetables (broccoli) as the complimentary side. We found this dish not to our tastes, with an awkward flavor permeating throughout the entire scalone almondine pieces. The abalone, which is usually firm when cooked, couldn't be identified, and the scallop was scarce and cut into strips. The best parts of the dish were found in the broccoli, lemon wedge, almonds, and freshly made tartar sauce--which helped generously to mask the awkward flavor.
From the dineLA menu we had chilean seabass, with a baked potato (with all the fixings) as the complimentary side. By the way, vegetables--in our visit's case, broccoli--come just in a smaller portion if you don't order the side as vegetables. The seabass was simply pan-fried and topped with onions and tomatoes; the topping and lemon juice countered the seabass' oily aspect effectively. We were more impressed, however, by the baked potato's fragrance, and enjoyed as much of the baked potato as possible.
My bacon wrapped filet mingon (also from the dineLA menu) with vegetables (broccoli) as my complimentary side, was fantastic and cooked to medium rare, as requested. It was a thick cut of beef, but was very tender, soft on the inside and nicely grilled (without turning black) on the outside. The center was slightly rare, while most of the meat was a light pink. The bacon, though slightly charred, provided a light smoky flavor to the outside of the filet. Meanwhile, the sweet onion rings and broccoli were on point and pleasant diversions. I can easily agree to this dish's subtitle on the menu: "the steak that made the Derby famous!"
Additionally, we ordered a side of creamed spinach, though we ordered it as just "spinach" without realizing it was actually creamed spinach. This was a typical rendition; think artichoke and spinach dip minus the artichokes and more spinach. The dryness that you see on the top layer probably came from being in the warmer too long; a waiter with our entrees and sides saw us still eating our appetizers and went back inside, only to return about 5 minutes later to present those items.
We were surprised by the small size of both of our desserts, but just one taste explained the small size-- both were extremely heavy! The chocolate mousse cake had yellow cake on the bottom, then milk chocolate mousse, yellow cake, white chocolate mousse, a marble cake, and chocolate ganache on the top. This dessert wasn't too sweet--just very heavy with the large chocolate content throughout the plate.
The cheesecake was like eating flavored cream cheese-- in this case, almond scented cream cheese. The crust had plenty of almonds, and the cheesecake batter itself had almond extract flavor in the background. The raspberry sauce and whipped cream provided some balance to the overall dish, but still, we ended packing up both desserts, small as they were, home for later snacking!
We left very well satiated, and you probably will too with the large entrees. The Derby offers a "nice traditional American meal" with pleasant service, and if you're looking for both of these elements in the area, the Derby is a good choice!
233 East Huntington Drive
Arcadia, CA 91007
Tel: (626) 447-2430