If you grew up in the San Fernando Valley, chances are good that you celebrated prom, a wedding, graduation or other special occasion at the Castaway in Burbank, with its sweeping views of the Valley all the way to downtown L.A.
After a recent $10 million overhaul by John Tallichet of Specialty Restaurants Corp., the 12,500-square-foot, 54-year-old landmark perched atop the Verdugo Hills has reopened with a multilevel restaurant that guarantees a view from every table and a sprawling patio dotted with fireplaces.
The dated Gilligan’s Island theme has been replaced by a slicker Hollywood feel, a wink to the film and TV studios down the winding road in beautiful downtown Burbank. If you’re celebrating a birthday, you’ll likely be greeted with a glass of Champagne at the hotel concierge–like check-in desk.
To the dismay of some locals, the fish tank and the weekend buffet are gone, the latter replaced with updated choices of various eggs Benedict, French toast with rum-roasted bananas, and lobster and waffles.
Former Patina Group chef Perry Pollaci has been bought in to oversee the new menu, which is steak-heavy. Many of his Cape Grim steaks and Creekstone Farms premium black Angus are aged on-site for 28 days in his 32-degree walk-in, constructed from illuminated bricks of Himalayan salt opposite the new wraparound bar.
Pollaci will be found nightly at the highly coveted Chef’s Table, a 10-top setup that can accommodate groups small and large in a community-table style and gives diners a behind-the-scenes look at everything going on in the kitchen, with the ability to interact with the chef.
For small plates, you can build your own charcuterie board with duck prosciutto, bresaola, Culatello di Zibello (a prized Italian ham) and assorted European cheeses. There are also plenty of surf options, like a delightful scallop duo — one is carpaccio topped with tangerine granita, the other is roasted and topped with brown butter. Another good choice is the tender charred octopus with crispy potatoes, a squid ink emulsion and 24-hour tomatoes.
In addition to the amazing Butcher’s Block of choices of large plates, there’s also a dramatic whole roasted branzino with shaved fennel and tomato served on top of potato puree with a hint of citrus. The roasted tricolor cauliflower is Pollaci’s unique version with hazelnut vinaigrette, cinnamon and currants.
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If you’re going to order dessert, dive into the Yellow Submarine. The summery twist on a Napolean is constructed with key lime cream sandwiched between sheets of puff pastry and topped with raspberry gel and light meringue tufts.
The restaurant’s original bar has been preserved in a hidden area and soon will be offering special intimate experiences in its exclusive and cozy space, with the bar program designed by master sommelier Paul Coker.
Small dinner plates range from $12 to $18 and main courses from $26 to $48, with sides from $6 to $8.
Castaway, 1250 E. Harvard Road, Burbank; (818) 848-6691, castawayburbank.com.