July 11, 2007

Park Ave [Stanton]

With an exterior the channels the Golden Age of the fifties, Park Ave is an ironic blast from the past whose take on American cuisine is nothing but modern and progressive.

I instantly recognized the building's architectural style with its angular signs and neon light as hailing from the 50's, but only managed to pin it to Googie architecture after consulting Wikipedia (the hatch from season two of Lost is similar). I love the Park Ave motif and if the restaurant could be described in one phrase, I'd call it vintage swank.

Lunch can be either a casual or formal affair, since the kitchen serves both menus in the daytime. The lunch menu is comprised of pastas, salads, sandwiches, and burgers, which top out at $14 an entree. We were brought a bread basket with four different varieties [baguette, crostone, pita chip, whole wheat bun] to hold us over until our orders arrived.

I was intrigued by the Veal Meatballs ($10.95) which came with spaghetti squash. Was it squash or spaghetti or a squash-flavored spaghetti? It turned out to be my first guess and the spaghetti squash (a type of squash) was grated and then sauteed with honey and butter--an imaginative pun! The use of veal added a layer of flavor to the meatball, though the meatball still tasted like...well, meat. Additional seasonings would have piqued my interest, since the dish needed something more to perk it up.

The Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($10) was good as a whole though most of the flavor came from the roast red peppers and not the dry chicken breast.

Desserts err on the traditional side with traditional American heavy hitters such as cheesecake, pudding, molten lava cakes, and sundaes. Our complimentary birthday dessert was the Warm Bread Pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. The notes of cinnamon, pieces of apple, gooey caramel and melted vanilla merged for the perfect end to the meal.

Park Ave was bustling with old-guard business types talking numbers over lunch, though on this particular day there were also a group of girls celebrating a birthday. Though I felt that the dishes could have been more polished (with the caveat that execution at lunch often falls a little short), the New American menu has me captivated for a second visit.

Update August 16, 2007

A last-minute detour sent our lunch club packing and on our way to Park Ave for round two.

The two of us decided on a comfort food favorite: the Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Soup. The Grilled Cheese was sweetly served in the shape of a heart, though the flavor were nothing to write home about. The Tomato Soup ranks up there with the best. We were surprised the chewy bits of cottage cheese interspersed in the creamy soup broth. It was perfectly seasoned, while the cottage cheese was an unexpected and ingenious touch.

While perusing the dessert menu, our waitress came back to announce the Strawberry Shortcake special. A symphony of Ooohs and Ahhhs followed and we were met by a pretty presentation that had too few strawberries and too much whipped cream. Meh.

Park Ave
11200 Beach Blvd
Stanton, CA 90680
(714) 901-4400

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