Summit House Restaurant
2000 East Bastanchury Road
Fullerton, CA 92835
Much to the chagrin of my mom, my work schedule has changed. This has meant working weekends, working a little later in the day, and subsequently missing some family gatherings. One such event that I missed due to the drudgery of working a retail job was mother's day. Since I'd missed going with my mom to Mimi's Cafe for dinner on that Sunday, I decided I'd try to make it up to her the next day by taking her and my dad to a restaurant they had never been to before, and a definite upgrade to the Mimi's Cafe they had the day before, Summit House in Fullerton.
Summit House opened their doors in 1991. Perched high above almost all of North OC, Summit House quickly gained a large following as a restaurant for special occasions. Couples looking for that perfect picturesque wedding spot flock to this busy wedding venue. They hold over 100 wedding ceremonies and even more wedding receptions per year. The special events don't stop at guests tying the knot, the dining room is always full of people celebrating a birthday, anniversaries, and as we were on this early Monday evening, a belated mother's day dinner.
I'd been to the Summit House less than a handful of times. Once was for a wedding, I also came here for dinner a couple of times with friends, and also visited my good friend Jack, who used to tend bar here, but has since transitioned to a management position. Very proud of that young man.
I have never been to England but entering the Summit House always brings to mind what I'd imagine an English manor would feel like. High beamed ceilings, a large fireplace off to one side, large and spacious booths, a piano player on most evenings, and large windows taking advantage of the glorious views that OC has to offer lend to the ambiance. The other side of the fireplace reveals an open kitchen where you get to glimpse the busy action of the chefs, while a large wooden table sitting in front of the kitchen prominently displays the wide array of desserts offered on that particular evening.
Dessert would have to wait, as we made our selections off of the dinner portion of the menu. Known for their prime rib, there are other selections to ponder off the menu curated by Chef Timothy Plumb. There's a couple of seafood options, along with chicken and a lamb shank that I hear is incredible. Red meat is the main attraction here though, and along with their famous prime rib, they also feature a prime ribeye and prime filet mignon. There's plenty in the way of starters, soups, and salads too. Let's see how our belated mother's day trip went for us.
Bread service is something I always like to share with all of you, and it was pretty stellar at Summit House. There were three kinds of bread offered on this evening and all pretty solid. I also enjoyed the butter that was provided. It was rich and could have been an Irish butter. Whatever it was, it was of a higher quality than what you get in those foil-wrapped butter packets. Our fantastic server Karen was not shy about refiling this as many times as was necessary, and she did not show signs of judging our carb addiction.
Ever since Mr. Stox closed in Anaheim, we have been on the lookout for the best crab cake in OC. These Chesapeake Style Crab Cakes ($13) were good, but could not replace the ones we lost when Mr. Stox closed over five years ago now. These were filled with plenty of flaky, delicious crab on the inside, but the outer breading was a little too thick and detracted from the crab on the inside. I liked the dill horseradish aioli, but wish there had been a tad bit more of it. Good, but not great. Our crab cake quest continues.
I can never resist a salad before a big piece of meat, and I guess Katie felt the same as she went with the Summit House Salad ($11). This was not your typical house salad. It came with Boston lettuce that was hydroponically grown by Hollandia Farms, a farm in Carpenteria, which is known for their living lettuce. Also included in the mix was some pancetta, grated gruyere cheese, toasted pecans. croutons, and her choice of dressing which was bleu cheese on this evening. Katie loved the freshness of the produce and the balance of this salad was right on. The slight saltiness of the pancetta, the crunch of the pecans and the grated cheese was a nice touch. One of the better house salads she has had in recent years. I went with my usual Hearts of Romaine with Caesar Dressing ($10). They utilize romaine from Ocean Mist Farms, shaved parmesan, sourdough croutons, and a very good Caesar dressing. I liked that they had a pretty heavy hand when it came to adding the dressing and the parmesan on this traditional Caesar. I probably have to agree with Katie that this was one of the better salads I have had recently.
Katie must not have heard that Summit House is known for their beef, because she went with this vividly vibrant Seabass ($44). When this was placed in front of Katie I thought the sweet chili glaze was going to overpower the delicate sea bass, but it complimented it rather nicely. The sea bass was wonderfully tender and breaded ever so slightly to showcase the flakiness of the fish below the surface. Katie loved this plate a lot. The sauce added a tinge of spice and went well with the well-crafted cilantro jasmine rice. She exclaimed that she'd get this everytime she returned here.
I'll spare sharing with you my parents split plate of their prime rib since they got theirs well done. Who are these people? My first slab of prime rib came out medium well, but they substituted it rather quickly for this perfectly cooked medium rare Summit House Cut of Prime Rib ($44). This slab of beef totally satisfied. The outside ring was not as seasoned as some that I have had, but the beef was nice and tender, with a subtle ribbon of fat running through it, which added a nice flavor. A very generous portion size, which I would estimate to be somewhere in the sixteen-ounce region. This traditional prime rib meal was rounded out with some of the best creamed spinach I have encountered. Not overly drenched with cream, the spinach shined here. The creamed corn was good, but a tad sweeter would have been my preference for this side dish. I have never understood the allure of Yorkshire pudding. It's not very tasty, hard to eat because it's flaky, and I left mine pretty much untouched.
Summit House definitely impressed on this evening as we celebrated Mother's Day a day late. As far as prime rib restaurants go, Summit House is way better than outdated Gullivers, and pretty much in the same rarefied air as Five Crowns in Corona Del Mar. I think I like the prime rib at Five Crowns a bit better, and the sides here a little more. Both restaurants are good options for a traditional prime rib dinner though. Summit House is a great spot for the residents of North OC to enjoy prime rib for any special occasion, or just because you want it. Service was impeccable on this evening. Our server Karen and the rest of the staff really made us feel welcomed and that they really wanted us here, which was very nice. Hopefully, this dinner made up for me not seeing my mom a day earlier.
Out of five frequent flier miles, (because in 1949 a plane left Fullerton Airport to set a then-record of being in the air for 42 days straight and I'd imagine that would have been a lot of airline miles if they had them back then), five being best to zero being worst, Summit House Restaurant gets 3.5 frequent flier miles.
For more information about Summit House, head to their website here: http://summithouse.com/index.html