16817 Ventura Blvd., Encino
Nestled in Los Encinos State Historic Park in Encino between Ventura Blvd. and Moorpark Street, Lakeside Restaurant & Lounge has been serving high quality meals for the past two and a half years. I say nestled, because if you drive past the quaint-looking adobe building on Ventura Blvd, you cannot imagine the magnitude of the unique experience and view that await you on the other side. Park behind the gas station on La Maida St, and once you've entered the lovely lobby, and go down the stairs into the bar and dining room area...prepare yourself to be enthralled by the magnificent view of the lake and 4.5 acre park seen through the huge dining room windows. The only other giveaway of your presence at a lake is the raucous yet fun-filled cocktail-party sound of the gaggles of geese who swim around it consistently.
The ample dining room is comfortably laid out with old style wooden doors and contemporary wicker chairs, presenting the overall feel of a typically western settlement...a sturdy, old-world charm... and the warm, friendly staff offer a more than abundant welcome. There is also a large outdoor patio equipped for events and parties lakeside, ideal during warmer weather.
I had heard that the lamb burger (pictured top right) was a delicious choice, but once our affable waiter Josh handed us the menu of the specialties of the day, the first entry caught my eye - a 16 oz ribeye steak with Bernaise sauce. My friend JJ and I both love steak, have hearty appetites and were quite hungry, so we immediately chose the ribeye. It was still Happy Hour when we arrived (3pm - 6pm) so from the Happy Hour menu we chose Calamari Fritti with marinara and cilantro lime aioli sauces as a $5 appetizer to share, and from the regular menu the soup of the day, which was tomato basil - a personal favorite. Ravenous, we decided to split an order of crabcakes as well. It was a pleasure to have Monty, the general manager, on hand to give us a brief history of the lake and the restaurant and to tell us about Lakeside's catering services and online delivery.
Soon after, our food arrived piping hot, and, no pun intended, we dove right in. The steaks were cooked to perfection, and the scalloped potatoes that I substituted for the mashed were scrumptious. I must say, I have had crabcakes many times over, and in some restaurants they taste processed, but these were like the old fashioned fishcakes I was brought up on, with potatoes and pieces of real fresh crab to savor in every bite. Lakeside uses, of course, the finest ingredients and takes full advantage of local produce companies for its meats, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables.
Monty brought us a large platter of desserts which included rustic apple tart, fresh raspberries, creme brulee, kahlua tiramisu, chocolate cake and a fabulous flaky pastry. All desserts are in-house baked and reasonably priced at $8.
The entrees, which range from $16 for a lamb burger to the ribeye which I could not believe fell under $40, are moderately priced too. Most pasta dishes, sandwiches, specialty burgers, chicken dishes range from $16-$22, and fish entrees like salmon slightly higher at $24. Steaks such as filet mignon and ribeye, of course, are understandably higher at $36/$37. But considering the prices at other establishments, this is quite a deal. And how can you beat the Happy Hour price of $5 for everything on the menu including food, wine and beer. There are also gluten free options, delivery available online through Eat24, and a specialty catering menu with a wide variety of delectable choices.
In every way, we could not have been more pleased with Lakeside's culinary treats, the service and with the ambiance itself which is truly original. I'll be back!
Lakeside Restaurant & Lounge is open Mondays through Thursdays 11 am to 10 pm, Fridays from 11 am to 11 pm, Saturdays 9am to 11 pm and Sundays from 9 am to 10 pm. Saturdays and Sundays there is a special a la carte brunch menu. Happy Hour is from 3pm - 6pm every day , and a late night Happy Hour is currently in the planning stages, as on certain occasions, musical entertainment is featured in the bar.