Saturday, July 7, 2012

Papa's Big Night Out at Cask 'n Cleaver!

Cask 'n Cleaver
125 North Village Ct.
San Dimas, CA 91773

When I told people where we would be taking Katie's Grandfather for dinner, almost everyone said, "they are still in business?" Yes, believe it or not, they are. I can see where most of you would think they have gone the way of record stores, pay phones, and VCR's. I mean all of the Cask 'n Cleaver's in OC have closed, but there are three still operating. Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, and this one we were at, San Dimas, can all lay claim to having a Cask n Cleaver in their cities.

Cask n' Cleaver has been around since 1967. Opened by college sweethearts, Chuck and Linda Keagle, they wanted to combine their love of the restaurant business with their growing interest in wine. They opened their first location in Rancho Cucamonga, with just six items on their menu, which were printed on wine bottles. They created a steakhouse without pretentiousness. The servers wore shorts, and they were one of the first Southern California restaurants to feature a salad bar. Enough about their past, let's talk about today.

This location of Cask 'n Cleaver is located in a large shopping complex, which featured many vacant spaces. I thought this was odd considering that this shopping center is in a great location right off the freeway. I found it weird also that there was a Sizzler right next door to Cask 'n Cleaver. Talk about having your competition right on top of you.

We got to Cask 'n Cleaver at about 4pm on a Sunday. Throughout our hour and a half long visit, there would be no more than four tables of people at one time in this restaurant. Maybe because this place was empty, but this restaurant seemed real large and quiet. Ceilings are high, and the inside of this restaurant might be in need of a makeover in the decor department. They do seem to keep the lighting low, but we were sitting under a skylight, so my pictures had a chance of turning out. Let's see if the food needs a makeover as well.

One of the things I enjoy most about Katie's family, besides the great company, is that they always get appetizers to start a meal. On this afternoon we got two. First up is the Steakhouse Potato Skins ($7.95). These skins are topped with jack and cheddar cheese, scallions, and bacon. I really enjoyed these. The potatoes were cut into thin strips, fried well, and had a good amount of toppings on them. Not the best potato skins I have had, but not the worst by a long shot. Thanks for the hand modeling shot Sara. Don't quit your day job though!

The second of our starters was the Garlic Cheese Bread ($4.95). I was not too big of a fan of this. The bread might look very flavorful in the picture, but don't let the picture fool you. This bread was not very cheesy, and the garlic was barely noticeable. I also hoped that this bread had been a little softer and come out warmer than it did.

With the selection of steak, prime rib, or other entrees, you have the option of having a wedge or Caesar salad, or you could visit the all you can eat salad bar. I snapped a few shots of the salad bar, while there was no one filling up their plates. This is your basic salad bar. This really reminded me of the salad bar at Marie Callender's, without the potato cheese soup. All of the basic items are here to make your favorite salad, and all the produce really seemed fresh.

I am almost embarrassed to show you my salad creation from the salad bar. I went very simple, with regular greens, bacon bits, cheese, red onions, croutons, and lots of blue cheese dressing. Not a bad tasting salad, if I do say so myself. This is my usual salad I make when visiting a salad bar.

I knew this was going to be an easy review to write after I heard Kevin, Dennis and Papa Chris order the same thing, The Prime Roast Beef Dip ($14.95). This is served with a horseradish sauce, au jus, and fries. Not one of the three of them mentioned anything positive about this sandwich. Dennis called the meat, "tough and flavorless". Kevin is never into critiquing food, but even he was not excited by this sandwich, saying, "I have had lots better sandwiches". The fries were pretty average.

Of course I had to try what Cask 'n Cleaver is famous for, their meat. I went with what the menu called, "the king of steaks", the New York Strip Steak ($28.95). If this truly is the king of steaks, it will not be long until the king is overthrown. The meat on its own was tough and fatty, even though I ordered this medium rare. I did opt to add their famous Over the Top option to the meat for an extra $2.95. This is a concoction of melted blue cheese, mushrooms, and onions, which actually saved this by adding at least some taste to the steak. Definitely not the best steak I have had. The garlic mashed potatoes really matched the meat with a lack of flavor. Just because you say these are garlic mashed potatoes on the menu, does not make this the case. You still need to add garlic. The fried onion straws were okay, but nothing to write home about.

Katie kept the meat train rolling when she tried the Steak Kabob ($14.95). With these kabob's you select if you would like these with teriyaki, bbq, or like Katie's choice, mesquite pepper. Katie has the awful habit of getting all of her meat well done, so we are not going to critique her steak here. It would be almost impossible to have steak cooked well done, and still taste good. She chose the rice pilaf as her premium side item. She called the rice, "plain tasting".

Lynn went to the sea for her dinner selection, Cask Shrimp ($20.95). As with the kabob's you have three options as to how you want your shrimp prepared. Scampi style, tempura fried, or charbroiled, which was Lynn's desired method of cooking. Lynn really admires Cask 'n Cleaver's consistency over the years. She has not eaten here for at least ten years, and this dish still tasted the same to her. This dinner looked a little boring to me, but I did not try any of this. She thought the shrimp was cooked well, and the baked potato was just average.

I guess I now know why most people think Cask 'n Cleaver is out of business. Simply put, people do not come here. The whole two hours we were here, there was never more than four tables eating at a time. The food and concept might have been really good back in the day, but this is the kind of place that time might have passed by. Salad bars were a real novel concept back in the late 60's, but now they seem dated. The prices here are also a little out of whack for the quality of the food we received. My steak was not even close to being a $30 steak. Not tender, and pretty much flavorless, this was a steak I would expect to have at Coco's or Carrow's. I also thought Lynn's order of one shrimp skewer with seven shrimp for $20 was as big a rip off as we have seen in awhile. The service for us here was pretty good. Our waitress was right on top of things. Glad we could get together with Papa Chris, but next time we might just head next door to Sizzler.

Out of five lifeguards, (because the city of San Dimas, where this restaurant is located is also home to Raging Waters, a water park which employs many lifeguards), five being best to zero being worst, Cask 'n Cleaver gets 2 lifeguards.

For more information on Cask 'n Cleaver, click here:

Cask 'n Cleaver on Urbanspoon


  1. I was just there two weeks ago. The roommates boyfriend works there. The Tempura fried avocados were pretty good. I went on a Friday. It was pretty busy. Lots of weekend warriors and they have a band on Friday and Saturday nights.

  2. Glad to hear this restaurant was not as depressing as during our visit. The fried avocados seem like they would be awesome. We of course would come here again, but I will stick to the appetizers. Thanks for the comment!