Castaway Retools in Burbank Hills With Seasonal, Steak Focus
Castaway is a Burbank classic that has been known more for its views and events space than its food. That has changed with arrival of Chef Perry Pollaci.
- CategoryEat & Drink
- Written byJoshua Lurie
Plenty of restaurants would have been satisfied with prized views and thriving business as an events space. Not Castaway, a Burbank classic in the Verdugo Hills that dates to 1963. The landscape at the restaurant has changed dramatically recently—thanks to the hiring of Chef Perry Pollaci, who previously starred at Firefly in Studio City.
Perry’s seasonal menu centers on steak, which is on full display in Castaway’s exhibition dry-aging room. A section of the room, dubbed “The Butcher’s Block,” is central to the mission. It features five types of beef and 12 different cuts. Options include a 7-ounce skirt steak from Mishima Reserve American Wagyu, 8-ounce hanger steak from Snake River Farms and 6-ounce pasture-raised, grass-fed filet from Cape Grim Beef in Tasmania. Every steak comes plated with shallot marmalade and sweet garlic chips.
“We want to showcase seasonal ingredients at the peak of their flavors, and most of our produce comes from the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Our dishes also have to, of course, taste fantastic and be visually appealing. Plating is very important–I like contrast in color and textures,” the chef explains.
In a fun twist, key menu categories are named after movie productions, with appetizers considered “Prologue,” side dishes called “Supporting Cast” and entrees as “Lead Performers.”
In terms of seasonality, Perry’s darlings of the moment are peas, asparagus and sugar snap peas—the latter of which is being used in a burrata cheese salad with citrus and mint. A notable non-beef dish features crisp chicken breast with cheddar Anson Mills corn grits, heirloom carrots, candied kumquat and pulled chicken leg jus. From the sea, seared spice-crusted tuna steak comes plated with grilled local melon, roasted sugar snap peas and uni butter.
Also new and different under Perry’s helm: a 10-seat chef’s table that provides an intimate dining experience.
Sommelier Paul Coker curates Castaway’s beverage program, which includes a wine list with more than 150 bottles, contemporary cocktails and punch bowls. There are also 22 taps devoted to craft beer, wine and cocktails.
Specialty Restaurant Corporation retooled every aspect of Castaway, including design. The sprawling, 12,500-square-foot space now includes a 175-seat dining room with plenty of cushioned booths and a huge, 225-seat patio with fire pits and impressive panoramic views of L.A. Only now, more diners will want to visit for dinner or weekend lunch and not just a nightcap.
1250 E. Harvard Rd., Burbank, 818-848-6691
The Sandwich Shoppe in Studio City serves an atypical sandwich that serves Russian salad on rye bread with a dill pickle.