Glendora Continental – Glendora, California

We’ve covered a lot of Basque restaurants here on Le Continental, being a big fan of the type of restaurant, the food, and the people. On good ol’ Route 66 east of Los Angeles I happened upon another one last summer when I spotted the sign “Glendora Continental Restaurant”, which of course caught my eye.




The restaurant was opened in 1980 by Jean and Elisabeth Sabarots, who came from the Basque Country of Europe. Jean Saborots (1936-2012) came from the town of Osses. He emigrated to the U.S. at 19 years old to work as a sheepherder, later working in dairies, and eventually becoming a bartender. In 1964 he returned to the Basque Country and met Elisabeth Larralde (1937-2005) from the town of Lecumberri, who was working in a hotel. They returned to the U.S. together, got married in 1966, and managed The Little Inn Smorgasbord in Covina (later owning it) until they opened Glendora Continental.


Jean and Elisabeth Sabarots - image by Glendora Continental

Jean and Elisabeth Sabarots – image by Glendora Continental


The bar and lounge in Glendora Continental has entertainment most nights of the week – Bingo on Mondays, karaoke on Tuesdays, live piano on first Thursdays, and live music on Fridays and Saturdays.


bar entrance - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

bar entrance – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


the bar - image by Glendora Continental

the bar – image by Glendora Continental


But my visit was for dinner so I entered through the Continental entrance – of course!


main entrance - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

main entrance – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


The dining room has booths of tufted brown vinyl, classy chandeliers, and plaques of the Lauburu, the Basque Country symbol.


dining room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


The Menu


menu - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

menu – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


The restaurant’s menu offers the complete Basque “set up” for $28 with your choice of the daily special entrees. This comes with pickled tongue, house made soup and salad, a stuffed puff pastry (optional), sliced ham, the main course with potato and vegetable, great homemade bread, cheese, fruit and dessert, plus wine! A feast! Of course I got the full set up and had a hard time eating it all. If you don’t want that much food you can get one of many available entrees of chicken, fish, lamb, beef or pasta, which come with soup and salad or pickled tongue, potato or rice, vegetable, and bread. Entrees range in price from $12 to $48 and they have early bird specials and daily specials at $14.


soup course - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

soup course (cream of broccoli) – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


pickled tongue - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

pickled tongue – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


puff pastry stuffed with mushrooms in a creamy sauce - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

puff pastry stuffed with mushrooms in a creamy sauce – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


I wasn’t sure how to eat the cured meat (which I believe was Jambon de Bayonne) served with hunks of butter. Spread the butter on the ham and eat it rolled up, perhaps?


ham with butter - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

ham with butter – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


main course of lamb chops - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

main course of lamb chops (which are on end in this pic) – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


cheese plate - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

cheese plate – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


It was a pleasant surprise finding this restaurant! The food was very good but next time I’ll bring some friends to share with because it was a lot of food for one (or I’ll just get a regular entree and not the set up)!


Glendora Continental
316 W Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740
(626) 914-1834
Open M-Thu 11:00am-3:00pm, 5:00pm-9:00pm, Fri 11:00am-3:00pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm, Sat 11:00am–10:00pm, Sun 10:30pm-3:00pm with limited menu, bar open daily 11am-2am



Den Gyldene Freden, Stockholm, Sweden

Recently I visited Stockholm for the first time. Such a beautiful and friendly city, with many historic restaurants and cafes. Perhaps the most famous historic restaurant in Stockholm is Den Gyldene Freden, which holds the Guinness Book record for the oldest restaurant in the world still in its original location. The Freden (which is how I will refer to it from here on) opened in 1722, just after the 1720-21 peace treaties between Sweden and Russia and Denmark and around the time Sweden switched from a monarchy to a parliamentary form of government, entering its “Age of Liberty” (Den Gyldene Freden translates to The Guilded Peace).


Den Gyldene Freden


Stockholm in the early 18th century was a drinking city. Food was generally pretty salty (to help preserve it) and the drinking water was not very palatable, so beer and spirits were the preferred beverages. Gamla Stan (old town) was where most of Stockholm’s 60,000 people lived and there were about 790 taverns (about one per 75 persons) to quench their thirst. Bartender Petter Hellberg opened the Freden and ran it with his son Zacharias until 1735. The Freden’s barman Johan Holmberg took it over in 1750. The famous poet, singer, composer, and musician Carl Micheal Bellman was a frequent customer at this time, befriending the waiter Johan Hollinder, who became the new owner in 1794. The Bellman’s Memory Society was formed in the 19th century to honor Bellman’s memory and held its meetings at the Freden.


Den Gyldene Freden's sign, since the mid-18th century

Den Gyldene Freden’s sign since the mid-18th century


Many other famous Swedish figures frequented the Freden over the centuries, including songwriter J. D. Valerius, poet Erik Johan Stagnelius, and author Evert Taube. The Swedish Academy has held their meetings at the Freden since the 1920s. There they select the winner of the annual Nobel Prize in Literature.





Additional floors were added to the building in the 19th century and it operated as a hotel for about 40 years.

When the restaurant was put on the market in 1919 a regular customer, the famous artist Anders Zorn, spent SEK 300,000 (an enormous amount at the time) to purchase and renovate the Freden back to its former glory.  Sadly he passed away before it was finished, but architect Torsten Stubelius followed Zorn’s plans to the letter, designing cutlery and dinnerware for the restaurant and returning certain dishes to the menu dating back to the 18th century. During the three years of renovations the restaurant was expanded, opening up cellar dining rooms which had been walled in before and creating new dining rooms on the upper floors which were decorated in 18th century style and 19th century Empire style. The “new” Freden opened in 1922. Although the Freden has gone through a few owners since the 1920s, even closing for 4 years in the 1980s, Zorn’s restaurant is the Freden that you can visit today.


A Tour of the Freden

Upon entering the restaurant are the two original 1722 dining rooms on each side of the entry hall. The left one features the Evert Taube table where the famous 20th century Stockholm author often dined.


Den Gyldene Freden

main dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Down the hall past the dining rooms is a bar on the left and a stairway on the right which leads to more dining rooms.


Den Gyldene Freden

photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Den Gyldene Freden

lower floor dining room, 1920s – image by Stockholm City Museum digital archive

Den Gyldene Freden

Postcard of same dining room

Den Gyldene Freden

same dining room, 1953 – image by Stockholm City Museum digital archive

Den Gyldene Freden

same dining room today – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Den Gyldene Freden

dining room on opposite side of archway, 1920s – image by Stockholm City Museum digital archive


cellar dining room 1920s - image by Stockholm City Museum digital archive

cellar dining room 1920s – image by Stockholm City Museum digital archive

Den Gyldene Freden

cellar dining room today – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


On the upper floors are beautiful dining rooms for private functions and large groups, such as the Zorn room and Bellman rooms.


Den Gyldene Freden

Bellman salon – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Den Gyldene Freden

upstairs dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Be sure and ask for a tour of the restaurant when you visit. As well as the dining rooms, check out the kitchen, which was recently moved into the side yard under a glass roof so it gets plenty of natural light in the daytime.


Food at the Freden

The menu is a combination of modern cuisine and traditional Swedish cuisine (husmanskost). As I try to do every day when traveling in Europe I have a large lunch and take advantage of the set lunch menu, often much less expensive than dining à la carte (Stockholm is an expensive city to visit). Monday through Friday they offer two different daily special main courses at only SEK 135 (about $15 US) – a great deal considering à la carte mains are regularly around SEK 200-400.

I opted for the Fredens Lunch – a starter of the S.O.S. herring assortment plus your  choice of the two daily special main courses, for SEK 265 (about $30 US). S.O.S. stands for smör (butter), ost (cheese), and sill (herring). The Freden version included pickled herring, herring with sour cream, Baltic Sea herring, and a sharp cheese with caraway and aquavit, served with potatoes and three kinds of bread with plenty of butter.


Den Gyldene Freden

S.O.S. – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


For my main course I had a satisfying pork loin with potatoes and carrots.


Den Gyldene Freden

pork loin – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


The à la carte menu is offered at dinner, as well as two different prix fixe three course dinners which include dessert.


Den Gyldene Freden should be at the top of your list of historic Stockholm restaurants and on your must-visit list of the oldest restaurants in the world.


Den Gyldene Freden
Österlånggatan 51, 111 31 Stockholm, Sweden

+46 8 24 97 60
Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-10:00pm, Sat 1:00pm-10:00pm, closed Sunday


Far East Cafe, San Francisco, California

In San Francisco there are two Chinese restaurants that claim to be the oldest in the city and both were established in the same year: 1920. There’s the Hang Ah Tearoom, which also claims to be the first dim sum restaurant in the U.S. The food is reported to be good, but the place has zero atmosphere. The other is the Far East Cafe in the heart of Chinatown. In contrast its dining room is spectacular and apparently much of it is original.


Far East Cafe

Le Continental couldn’t find any detailed info about the Far East Cafe online. All we know is that it opened in 1920 with its ornate lamps, paintings and other decor coming from China.


Far East Cafe

The Bar


The Far East Cafe serves traditional Cantonese style Chinese and Chinese-American food, with a sprinkling of Szechuan dishes on the menu as well. They specialize in seafood, so that’s what you should order.


Far East Cafe

A unique feature are the private wood dining compartments on one side of the dining room (that matches the wood paneling on the opposite side), which the restaurant says are the last in any Chinese restaurant in the city. Sam’s Grill and Tadich Grill (both in San Francisco) also still have similar private dining compartments. Reservations are REQUIRED to sit in a private compartment (walk-ins welcome for the main dining room).


Far East Cafe

The restaurant was freshly painted since the last time I visited but the colors are pleasing, not garish like in so many Chinese restaurants. And check out those beautiful murals and intricate “palace” lamps! I also love the vintage linoleum floor.


Far East Cafe

The service was very attentive on my recent visit. The waiters wear black vests with white shirts, black slacks, and red ties.


Far East Cafe


Far East Cafe
631 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 982-3245
Open daily 11:30am-10pm

What is the best steakhouse in the U.S.?

What is the best steakhouse in the U.S.? Le Continental’s pick is Bern’s in Tampa. I’ve only been twice (ten years apart) but one visit was enough to proclaim it THE BEST. Bern’s motto is “We do things differently here.”, so it’s more than a restaurant meal, rather they offer “A unique culinary experience.”.


Bern Laxer - image by Bern's Steak House via Tampa Bay Business journal

Bern Laxer – image by Bern’s Steak House via Tampa Bay Business journal


Bernard Laxer was born in New York City in 1923, served in WWII, and graduated from NYU with a degree in advertising. He married and moved to Florida with his wife Gertrude in 1951. After saving some cash from various jobs, they bought a juice bar in Tampa in 1953. Renamed Bern and Gert’s Little Midway, it was a successful breakfast and lunch counter. Quality was their emphasis from the beginning as they served fresh baked bread, fresh-squeezed juice, and 37 kinds of jam, jellies and preserves. In 1956 Bern and Gert bought a place called Beer Haven on Howard Ave right where Bern’s Bordeaux Room is today. To save money on the sign they renamed it Bern’s (dropping some of the letters from the Beer Haven sign and adding the apostrophe and the ‘s’). At first it was a hamburger restaurant with red checked tablecloths and Chianti bottle candle holders. Bern was the host, greeting customers, and Gert waited tables.


image by

Bern’s today (the building used to be brick but it was covered with stucco about a few years ago) – image by


Bern’s soon became a steak house and expanded in the 1960s and 1970s, eventually taking over the entire shopping center that was next door. Through hard work, clever advertising, and quality of food and service it became a dining destination. One local ad read  ”Steak Dinner, $66,000. Includes African safari and a good luck charm. Steak dinner alone: $2.50.”.

Bern bought a local liquor store to more easily supply his restaurant with liquor and wine. He became a lover of fine wines. Much of their profit went into the restaurant’s expansions, fine art he decorated the dining rooms with, and his wine collection, which grew to the largest in the world, around 500,000 bottles of around 6,800 selections. About 100,000 bottles are stored in the restaurant’s wine cellar today, with the other 400,000  kept in warehouses around Tampa. In 1974 the wine list was 1,236 pages long. By 1995 it was a whopping 2,500 pages of wine listings, maps of wine regions, interviews with wine connoisseurs, and reference information. Today you receive an abridged wine list at your table, however you can ask for the 179-page wine list, which is updated quarterly. Perhaps you may want a 1901 Château Mouton-Rothschild, a Château Latour from 1920, or a Château Lafite-Rothschild from 1881. They have all of these vintages available.

In 1993 Bern’s son Dave took over operation of Bern’s after Bern Laxer sustained injuries in a serious car accident, and he runs it today. Bern Laxer passed away in 2002.


Bern’s Dining Rooms


Lobby of Bern's today - image by Bren Hererra

Lobby of Bern’s today – image by Bren Hererra


Bern’s eight dining rooms and stunning lobby with its grand staircase to the restrooms (above photo)  were decorated in the 1960’s and 70s in red flocked wallpaper, red carpet, mirrors and classical art in gold frames, antique furniture, and sculpture, much of it personally collected by Bern Laxer. Many writers call this a “bordello” style, or perhaps rococo revival. The dining rooms were redecorated one-at-a-time from 1999 into the early 2000s, some a little (new carpet), some a lot (the Andre Tchelischeff room, named for a California winemaker, was redone in mahogany paneling with enlarged photos of Bern and Tchelischeff). The bar was completely redone at the time and TVs were removed from the dessert room (hooray!). In the past couple of years some of the dining rooms were redone again, but not drastically. The acoustic tiled ceilings were replaced with more attractive coffered ceilings. For example, here is the Florentine Room (sometimes also called the Cameo Room) before the recent remodel:


Florentine room before recent remodel - image by

Florentine room before recent remodel – image by


And here is the Florentine Room as it looks now (which I dined in on my recent visit). Still classy, still old-fashioned, but a bit more elegant with nicer chairs, a chandelier and spot lights, and a new ceiling.


Florentine room - image by Dining Out on an Expense Account

Florentine room now – image by Dining Out on an Expense Account


Before my last visit I found it hard to find good information online about Bern’s dining rooms and what they are called, so here I present my Le Continental readers with a showing of all of Bern’s dining rooms for your convenience, so when you make your reservation you can choose the room you want to dine in. We start at the bar.


Bar & lounge - image by Times Publishing Inc.

Bar & lounge – image by Times Publishing Inc.


The Bordeaux Room, where Bern's started in 1956 - Photo by Lara Cerri via Visit Florida Flickr page

Bordeaux Room, where Bern’s started in 1956 – Photo by Lara Cerri via Visit Florida Flickr page


Bronze Room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

Bronze Room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Tchelistcheff Room - image by The Daily Meal

Tchelistcheff Room – image by The Daily Meal


Burgundy Room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

Burgundy Room, with a detailed map of the wine region – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Rhone room - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

Rhone room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Rhone room photo mural - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

Rhone room photo mural – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Not shown are the Champagne and Port rooms, which I believe are used for private gatherings. Counting the Florentine Room shown above, that’s eight dining rooms, not counting the extra-special room which is actually the second floor of the building!


Harry Waugh Dessert Room - image by

Harry Waugh Dessert Room – image by


In 1985 the Harry Waugh Dessert Room was added, which is on the second floor (a friend of Bern’s, Harry Waugh, an Englishman, was director of Chateau Latour in France). It consists of a labyrinth of 48 semi-private dining booths made from redwood wine vats and glass (it’s hard to describe and must be experienced when you visit Bern’s).

Note: Bern’s dining rooms, lobby, and bar are quite dark (as they should be) inside, darker than is shown in these photos. There are NO WINDOWS in the entire restaurant! It doesn’t necessarily make for good pictures, as you can see in my photo below, but that’s OK. It gives you an idea of the atmosphere at Bern’s.


lobby - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

lobby – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


The Food

Where to begin? Let’s get to the meat of the matter! The steak menu:

  • filet mignon
  • chateaubriand
  • “special” chateaubriand, loin-aged 7 weeks
  • strip sirloin (New York), USDA Prime, aged 5-8 weeks
  • Delmonico (ribeye), USDA Prime, aged 5-8 weeks
  • porterhouse, USDA Prime, aged 5-8 weeks
  • t-bone, USDA Prime, aged 5-8 weeks

Each steak is hand-cut, trimmed, and weighed to order, offered in multiple sizes by weight. The menu shows how many people each sized steak can feed, and how thick it is, depending on how it’s cooked (rare to med. rare steaks are served thicker than steaks cooked more well done). All steaks are broiled over lump hardwood charcoal. The waiter was very helpful in giving suggestions as the menu can be a lot to study. For example, for two people one large thick steak is usually better than ordering two separate steaks (if you want the same steak done the same way). Anything you wish Bern’s will accommodate you.

Bern’s trims off most of the fat (and any gristle) so the steak may not look like the same cut in other steakhouses. They buy 3 to 4 pounds of beef for each 1 pound of steak. All you get is the best part. As you can see in my photo below my Delmonico (ribeye) had the fat removed so it was served as one large price and one smaller piece.


Delmonico, rare - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

Delmonico, rare – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


A bit about Bern’s side dishes. In the 1970s Bern Laxer purchased an eight-acre farm so he could grow his own vegetables for the restaurant, organically. Today Bern’s still grows many of its vegetables on its farm and other local farms. The side dishes are all prepared to order and are delicious.


tableside Caesar salad - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

table-side Caesar salad preparation – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Bern’s menu is humongous. There is a large caviar selection, many appetizers to choose from, and entrees of beef, pork, lamb, and seafood, which is flown in fresh daily. There is a long menu of specials every night which change monthly based on what is in season and available called the Kitchen Within a Kitchen. There is a cheese menu featuring dozens of cheeses from around the world, some aged at Bern’s in their Cheese Cave.


Dessert Room table - photo by Dean Curtis, 2006

Dessert Room table – photo by Dean Curtis, 2006


Make sure you allow several hours for the full Bern’s experience: a cocktail in the bar, a leisurely dinner (you never feel rushed at Bern’s), dessert and an after-dinner drink in the Harry Waugh Dessert Room, and even a tour of the wine cellar and kitchen if you so desire. My advice is to make a dinner reservation for no later than 7pm so you can have plenty of time (arriving an hour or so earlier so you can visit the bar). The closing hours vary by the night of the week but you should plan to be finished by 10 or 11 (later on Friday or Saturday).


dessert room music system - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

dessert room music system – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Each booth in the dessert room has a sound system with choices of soft music and a phone so you can request a song played by the live piano player! About 50 desserts are offered on the menu. A highlight was the macadamia nut ice cream sundae. I ordered the Baked Alaska, served flambéed table-side.


Baked Alaska - photo by Dean Curtis, 2016

Baked Alaska – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


The dessert room drinks menu has over 1,000 drinks, wines, liquors, and cordials. There are many vintage ports (dating back to 1957) and madeiras (from as far back as 1792), many at affordable prices.


The Jab, very satisfied (but full) after dining at Bern's, 2006

At Bern’s they treat you like a king! The Jab, very satisfied (but full) after dining at Bern’s, 2006


A final word on the service: impeccable! Every waiter is trained for a full year throughout the restaurant and even on the farm, then for another 8 to 12 weeks in the dining rooms.

If you love steaks, classic steakhouses, and fine dining you need to make a pilgrimage to Bern’s. It’s worth the trip from anywhere in the U.S. Save your money, go all out with the full Bern’s experience: caviar (if you desire), a great wine, an aged steak, perhaps with a lobster tail, and some dessert with a glass of vintage port. Jackets and ties are encouraged (but not required) at Bern’s. Get dressed up and do it right!


Bern’s Steak House
1208 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 251-2421
Open Sun-Thu 5:00pm-10:00pm, Fri-Sat 5:00pm-11:00pm



The American, Kansas City, Missouri – CLOSED

UPDATE: The American closed to the public at the end of 2016 and is now only open for private functions.

On a recent visit to Kansas City (my first) we had cocktails in the gorgeous American Restaurant in Crown Center, designed by Warren Platner in 1974. We enjoyed the view, the design, the drinks, and the wonderful singer and pianist in the lounge, then moved on to have steak dinner in the Plaza III Steakhouse. There just wasn’t enough time in a long weekend to dine at every classic restaurant. Unfortunately, Le Continental has just learned that The American, Kansas City’s only classic fine dining restaurant, will be closing at the end of the year. Plans are to use it for “pop-ups” and special events in 2017, but there is no word on if it will stay the same or be remodeled.


The American Restaurant

dining room – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Crown Center, a mixed-use redevelopment project just south of downtown, was the vision of Joyce C. Hall, Hallmark’s founder. Headquarted in Kansas City, Hallmark’s main office looked out on a little used area of land with old warehouses and parking lots. On the site Mr. Hall built a complex with office space, a shopping center, condos, two hotels (a Westin and a Sheraton), and large fountain (in the city of fountains), and an office building. In 1974 a restaurant was opened on the top floor of the office building that would be the world-class midwest dining destination south of Chicago. Joe Baum, known for the NYC restaurants Tavern on the Green, The Rainbow Room, and the Four Seasons (which just closed this month), was a consultant on the project. James Beard, “The Dean of American Cookery”, was hired to conceptualize and create the modern American menu. And Warren Platner, who had designed modern wire furniture for Knoll and a restaurant for Eero Saarinen’s 1965 CBS building, was hired to design the interiors (he would later design the Windows on the World).


image by

image by


Platner created a cathedral-like space with high ceilings decorated with fan-shaped bent wood light sculptures facing a view of the city through huge glass windows that could be shaded with wooden shutters. The furniture and carpet were done in fuschia with brass lamp fixtures for lighting and brass railings along the staircases from the foyer and bar into the lower-level dining room.


image by

image by


Today the restaurant is mostly the same except the brass light fixtures, banquettes, and fuschia color scheme are gone. It’s still a spectacular space. I was there in daylight. I imagine it’s even more striking at night.


The American Restaurant

the bar – photo by Dean Curtis, 2016


Over the years several locally famous chefs helmed the kitchen at the American including James Beard award-winning chefs Debbie Gold, Michael Smith, and Celina Tio. The menu these days, under executive chef Michael Corvino since 2013, has been updated (he is leaving the restaurant in August). They recently dropped table-side prepared dishes from the menu, which were still offered in 2010 (according to a blog post I read). The menu  consists of a prix-fixe three-course menu at $65, with a tasting menu at $110.

If you can possibly make it to Kansas City, you should visit the American before the end of the year.


The American
Crown Center, 200 E 25th St #400, Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 545-8001
Open Wed-Thu 5:30pm – 10:00pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm – 11:00pm, live music starts at 6:30 on Fridays and Saturdays