Apart from the gargantuan portions of food served, when you walk into the restaurant it is like entering a time warp. Red Leather chairs, a menu that contains items long ditched long ago in trendy eateries, waitresses who have been around for fifty years and a piano player crooning hits like My Way and Mack the Knife. You also get the classic Hollywood restaurant scenario of signed celebrity black and white glossies on the wall. Stars who have long been out of the public picture share space alongside up and coming hopefuls in an atmosphere full of rustic charm that is genuinely relaxed and fun to be at. In fact the Buggy Whip has just been used for a scene in an upcoming Johnny Depp movie about a notorious drug dealer. Many diverse types frequent the Buggy Whip on a regular basis including the hard to please Hollywood Park Press Box crowd like Jack Karlik, Bob Miezerski and Mike Mooney, characters who know a thing or to about food.
On a Saturday night the place was busy around 7 p.m., but slowly thinned out as the evening wore on which is the way in most American restaurants. Our waiter was an actor who liked working at the restaurant because he could get off early each night and take care of whatever actor's take care in the latter part of the evening. The Buggy Whip is famous for several dishes, Prime Rib, Giant Lobster Tails, Florida Stone Crabs and its Cheesecake dessert.
First up we selected the Calamari Steak seasoned with butter and garlic ($6.95) a first time for me and an original of the Buggy Whip. I loved the marinate with fresh herbs and a real juicy tender feel to it. The Blue Cheese salad and Green Goddess salad were both fresh tasting, extremely plentiful and enhanced by some wonderful crispy croutons. Frankly, if you were a light eater you could have stopped the meal right there, but like true professionals we soldiered on to savor the two main courses, which we were told, were the two biggest sellers at the Buggy Whip.
The Prime Rib was the biggest I have ever had and clearly comes from the best grain fed steers to give it the tenderness such a quality dish needs. All these main courses come with freshly cooked vegetables such as asparagus and baby carrots and a giant baked potato with a selection of toppings to choose from. Steak lovers will be in their element here with Filet Mignon, Delmonico Steak, and Giant Top Sirloin to name a few that are on the menu. Special Jumbo Pork Chops at $18.95 also look a standout on the menu. My wife went for the famous Cioppino dish of fresh fish, shrimp, lobster, clams and crab, which was superb value at $18.95. Abundant amount of seafood in a broth like stew is a sure-fire bet and in fact probably enough for two to share. If you just can't finish the food here they will gladly box it up for you for lunch next day, and it seemed like every table that night was stocked up. The Stone Crab Claws at $29.95 do sound like a real winner, as do such items as the Braised Lamb Shank ($18.95) and the Chicken Vera Cruz ($16.95).
No meal at the Buggy Whip is complete without a portion of the homemade Cheesecake at $3.95, which will round off your meal with just the right touch. All in all a very enjoyable experience that Food World can highly recommend, and since it is so close to LAX, a natural choice for serious eaters after or before a flight. The wine list is mainly Californian with standards such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir, but there are a couple of imported French classics such as the ever-popular Pouilly-Fuisse and Chateauneuf-Du-Pape.
Reservations: Advised, especially on weekends
Dinner for two w/wine: $120
Mike Hepworth, March, 2000