By TRILBY BERESFORD | Reporter
Photos by RICH SCHMITT | Staff Photographer
Like many familiar Palisadian haunts, the Golden Bull steakhouse in Santa Monica Canyon offers a rich history.
Built in 1924, the building was once the real estate office of Frank E. Bundy, then a restaurant by the name of Ted’s Grill, followed by another restaurant, Eddie’s Chili Verde.
Don Cranford opened the Golden Bull in 1949, and it gained a reputation for reliable comfort and friendliness over subsequent decades.
The space closed for renovations in January this year and recently reopened with new owners and an updated menu. Luckily, the charm of the original establishment has been preserved. There’s wood paneling, exposed brick, dark colored seating booths, deep red napkins, wine bottles hanging above doorframes, original artwork and patterned carpet.
It sort of resembles a British pub, elevated with California flair and humor—there’s a real aquarium behind the bar. When the Palisadian-Post sat down to dine, we were literally under a bull painting.
Chef Greg A. Daniels hails from New York, where he trained at the French Culinary Institute (now named International Culinary Center). He’s worked at Perry Street in NYC’s West Village, Salt Air on Abbot Kinney, and was part of the team that opened Waldorf Astoria.
“I really prefer smaller restaurants,” Daniels told the Post, adding that the team atmosphere of Golden Bull suits him well.
Co-owner Chase Ahders chimed in with the restaurant motto is: “Pretend like these people are coming to your house.” Ahders is a former lawyer who also owns Liason Restaurant + Lounge in Hollywood. In keeping with a “family style” approach, he mentioned that one of the longtime Golden Bull bartender’s reappears for guest duties on a regular basis.
First on the tasting agenda was a sampling of cocktails from the bar program of Daniel Baker and Jake Hamrick. The Moscow Mule had a few too many ice cubes, which meant that the chunk of lime couldn’t really be dropped into the glass, yet the challenge of drinking it was overruled by the refreshing, punchy taste.
The Aperol and prosecco Spritz was suitably summery, no doubt an ideal accompaniment to any brunch dish. In addition, the gin Martini and Old Fashioned were delicious ways to satisfy a classic craving.
Shrimp dishes can be hit or miss due to common overcooking, but Golden Bull’s Shrimp Cocktail featured well-seasoned citrus poached shrimp and a pleasing house cocktail sauce.
The Crispy Crab Fritters that sat atop celery remoulade were very more-ish, so the inclusion of only two on the plate was rather devastating.
For the large plates, we kicked things off with the Poached Halibut. It was a beautifully cooked piece of fish on a bed of wild mushrooms, asparagus and jalapeño onion puree.
Next up was the Garden Linguini with fresh vegetables and herbs, which felt the homiest of all the fishes so far—like something one’s mother would quickly whip up. The presence of spice was warmly welcomed.
Of course, the star of the show had to be the New York Strip with chimichurri sauce (because after all, we were in a chophouse). The meat didn’t come with any sides, quite typical, so the Post ordered Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach.
It’s unusual that side dishes rival the main event, however the wonderfully fluffy and buttery potatoes, combined with the spinach that arrived in a casserole dish and felt traditionally English, were a reason to return all by themselves. And for anyone looking for a hearty meal, this was the epitome of one.
Now, full disclosure: we weren’t planning on dessert. But after a quick conversation with Daniels, it seemed like the Golden Bull had something special to offer.
Moments later, a S’mores Casserole appeared on the table. We’re talking about a layer of toasted marshmallows with Nutella underneath, sitting beside a pile of graham crackers, topped with salted caramel ice cream. Special is an understatement. This dessert has entered into the top three desserts I have enjoyed in my adult life.
It’s also cemented the fact that Golden Bull, aside from being a great spot to enjoy food and drinks in a relaxed atmosphere, is perfect for a date night, anniversary, birthday or any other cause for celebration.