There are shiny, mid-mod staples that reflect goodness decades later: the Dal Rae in Pico Rivera, Mr. Lyons in Palm Springs, even Captain’s Anchorage perched atop the mountain in Big Bear Lake. Dark, lounge-y spaces built decades ago and exuding a vibe and charm that refuses to leave its age.
It is in these spaces where one might get a steak tartare or a Ceasar salad prepared tableside. Excellent cuts of beef and lamb paired with equally solid selections of seafood. For middle class families, these mid-range steakhouses were the spaces where they felt their dinners were luxurious if not outright special. A place where they would indulge for a special birthday or honor. A space where kids often learn for the first time that at some restaurants, sides can be separated from entrees (though not always) and that steak is one of America’s most sought after culinary indulgences.
And this is where The Hideaway comes in.
Its owners are clearly lovers of Palm Springs and likely lovers of their many steakhouses. On the wall are many odes to the Rat Pack and desert mid-mod living, all paired with a dark interior that is sliced with walnuts and beiges.
But it is the food that is truly the star. Unfussy, uncomplicated while not overwhelming the patron. Chef Arthur Gonzalez—in his first outing since formally leaving behind Roe while sticking to his kitchen at Panxa Cocina—lets his comfort ride on this menu.
For those that know Gonzalez, he is as much biologically as he is socially multi-cultural. With Oaxacan blood on one side and German on the other, he grew up surrounded by Filipino, Chinese, Korean, and other cultures in Cerritos. Gonzalez’s food has always had a fluidity that defies specificity. Even at Panxa—where he homes in on the food of the great state of New Mexico—there are hints of his desire not to stay within a box.
At the Hideaway, the food is about as Californian as you can get, but with tidbits of Gonzalez’s love of various cultures.
His short ribs appetizer could very well be a plate at any fine-dining Japanese space: braised short ribs marvelously removed from the bone in pieces, dipped into a tempura batter that is so light that when it is cooked, it looks like it was a thin skin for the short ribs themselves. Saturated in tangerine citrus, the ultra-thin batter creates a texture and flavor that slices through the salt and tenderness of the rib—and in the end, creates a genuinely magical start to any meal at The Hideaway.
The stellar lamb tartare—raw bits of Niman Ranch lamb that don’t even rub sides remotely with gaminess are lightly brushed with bits of mustard and topped with a quail yolk—has a heat to it that is distinctly Sichuan, making it perfect to heap on his take on flaky, Chinese scallion pancakes. It’s as if Chengdu made a pitstop in France and with it, brought a new form of tartare that doesn’t hide the meat in the accoutrements. You won’t find Gonzalez’s version to be the creamy, caper-driven versions that many serve, from Bestia to Petit Trois. Sweet, savory and spicy, it is a dangerously edible plate likely to seduce even the most skeptical of raw red meat critics.
This care for lamb is exuded with equal competence on his lamb entree, a dish I strongly recommend ordering medium rare and no less, where a healthy chunk of loin joins a nest of housemade garlic noodles tossed in a “salsa verde,” a witty, pesto-meets-chimichurri sauce that has little to do with tomatillos.
Then, of course, there are his cuts of beef.
Surely, you can add a sauce on the side or even request table-side black truffle service, where fresh shavings of black truffle are thrown onto your plate until you say, “I’m done being extra, thanks.” But the quality of Niman Ranch’s cattle paired with Gonzalez’s skill on the grill create for truly stellar plates of beef with or without the accoutrements. And while the 24-ounce ribeye might seem eyebrow-raising at $65, it is perfectly fit for two or even three, depending on your meat-eating skills.
Gonzalez’s love for almost-all-American interpretations doesn’t necessarily go awry—his scallops and pork belly dish is arguably the most succulent, creamy protein dish on the menu, where the sweetness of the scallops and the sodium of the pork belly combine for a genuinely wonderful combination that doesn’t eschew anything more than Californian coastal grub—but his ability to layer hints of the cultures he loves is where he shines best.
His seasonal crudo—it was branzino when I went the second time—has Japanese ponzu, Italian black truffle and Californian Fresno chili pepper turned into a gelée and the result is wondrous.
Perhaps more importantly, outside of Gonzalez being able to flex his ability at stellar fusions of flavor, is The Hideaway’s ability to really sense what a neighborhood needs. In a time where it seems restaurant closures are as ubiquitous as new spaces, what the crew behind The Hideaway, not just Gonzalez, created was something that Zaferia definitively needed: a mid-range, clean, steakhouse-like space that offered quality food.
Surely, I will miss Callaloo, the restaurant that used to be inside the space of The Hideaway. But with this type of food—one that any patron can also experience for a more affordable price point during happy hour, including a burger that parallels the wonder of Ellie’s burger—there is no question that The Hideaway is my favorite new restaurant.
Until we eat again…
The Hideaway is located at 4137 E. Anaheim St.
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