Buggy Whip in Westchester

Buggy Whip
Terrific Deal-Great Place



The successful Buggy Whip is one of Los Angeles' oldest fish‑steak houses, still handsomely showy with Old World sophistication after being at the same location for over 50‑years. It's endowed in the Fox & Hounds tradition of upscale vogue restaurants, circa l950's. Diners that remember the dark woods, brick, and red leather booths of that era, will feel nostalgic about the hidden enchantment that exists in vintage bits and pieces of the past. Along with personal lamps and candle‑light over pink and maroon table linens, the walls are flooded with artifacts and "lithos" of early humor, plus a popular bar, somewhat like "Cheers" without "Norm." If it's still light outside, one is overwhelmed with the exquisite colorful section of glass wall. And being that the restaurant is just a few minutes from LAX, "celebs," and corporate honchos are habitual drop‑ins. Especially on Tuesday through Saturday nights when Peter Wagoner heats up the "ivories."

The staff is like family, with waitresses that have been there for 20‑years or more. They've developed a persona that focuses on the needs of diners, apparently learned from owners Paul Darricarrere and his wife Ilze, whose success began with the exclusive Chez Paul in Pasadena, and Old Virginia, where he received The Holiday Magazine Award. But when the historic Buggy Whip restaurant was available in l977, Paul bought it, keeping everything the same, but upgrading the fish menu; being that he's also an importer and supplier of fish (B.W. Seafoods). So undoubtedly he has the most fabulous Florida Stone Crab Claws, the juiciest and sweetest in flavor, available year round.

We had the best‑ever calamari steak strips, sautéed in a very light scampi butter, followed with a wonderful old‑fashioned New England clam chowder, and a salad with Paul's famous Green Goddess dressing. You also get a choice of baked, French, or garlic mashed potatoes, a vegetable, hot sourdough rolls and muffins. Our entree was cioppino, an Italian fisherman's stew of fresh fish, shrimp, clams and crab, and we sopped up every last drop. There's another goodie on the menu offering 2-one pound live Maine lobsters priced at $29.95. Other orders from the sea are fresh sea bass, sand dabs, fillet of sole, and for those that can't decide, you can have l/2 an order of sand dabs and l/2 an order of filet of sole. But there's also halibut, Atlantic Salmon, and shrimp with lobster tails. The menu is enormous, and among the mix of escargots, oysters on the half, and mussels, there are pastas and some ethnic dishes like bratwurst, knackwurst, and ham platters. In addition you will always find "Pasta of the Day," and on this night it was Penne with Italian sausage with Parmesan cheese, Béchamel and Peas!

"Twilight Dinners," are popular from 4:00pm-6:00pm, priced at $13.95, (not available Friday, Saturday, or Holidays). They include soup or salad, and entrees. of Mix and Match items with whipped potatoes and vegetables; there is also and fresh Prince Edward Island Black Mussels. One-pound Lobsters are $29.95. The twilight dinners include Top Sirloin steak and Braised Lamb Shank with whipped potatoes. There are all kinds of specials, adding seafood, various chicken dishes, meats, steaks, and Calf Liver with sautéed onions and garlic mashed potatoes.

However his regular fare features Prime steaks, all from the world's best grain‑fed steers, aged to perfection. He lists Delmonico's, Filet Mignons, New York Sirloins, and combinations of prime rib or top sirloin with lobster. These are extra big cuts.

Among the "zillion" awards, his latest was presented by Los Angeles magazine, named as the "Best Steak Dinner" and Best of LA. 2003.

It was “back to the future,” with terrific food, friendly people and fine wine; also don't miss Pauls famous Colossal Stone Crab Claws. So strut your fins with someone who will appreciate your good taste.

7420 La Tijera Blvd., Westchester CA; (310) 645‑7131; free parking; banquets; major credit cards accepted. Open 5‑days from 11:00am, weekends from 4:00pm. Being that the menu is humongous, I suggest you go in for the "Twilight" and check out the dinner menu. On one occasion when I couldn't make up my mind, I had the complete dinner with an entrée 1/2 order of Sand Dabs & 1/2 order of Fillet of Sole. I love this place.

Visit www.thebuggywhip.com for more info.