CLOSED, but may reopen.
Three Forks Chop House, 580 W. 1st St. (at Cornell), Claremont.
To celebrate my 11th anniversary at the Bulletin, a friend treated me to dinner at Three Forks, a Montana-themed steakhouse in the Packing House and perhaps the valley’s most expensive restaurant. Hey, anything to avoid having to fork out (three fork out?) that much dough myself.
Three Forks was the first 909 restaurant to be reviewed in the L.A. Times in recent memory. Ol’ S. Irene Virbila gave it 2.5 stars out of 4 and for her, that’s a positive review. There was amusement over the photo, which included a man in very casual attire at the bar, on a local blog; someone said dismissively that they wouldn’t pay those kind of prices to sit near a man in a tank top. The review, which is posted outside the restaurant, has other problems: S. Irene manages to use the word “rustic” four times, including twice in the same sentence, to describe the tart, the sausage, the food in general and the atmosphere.
The restaurant has a website but no prices are listed on the online menu.
We sat outside near a heat lamp. We shared the charcuterie platter ($18), a plate of cured meats, olives, brie and something called ramp. I had the filet mignon, 10 oz. ($46), and she had the lamb chops ($39).
What arrived first was an amuse bouche — they don’t typically serve these things at the burrito stands I frequent — of, it was explained, “crab and cucumber with vinaigrette aged 12 years…excuse me, a vinaigrette reduction…to spark the appetite.” Whichever, the bite-size dollop had a pleasant mix of flavors.
Now bring on the meat!
The appetizer was quite good, although the ramp and olives were nothing exciting, and any more than two people would not have found the size adequate. The lamb was tender. The filet mignon, which I asked to be cooked medium, may have been overdone (that was my friend’s opinion; I’m no expert), a bit chewy on the inside and charred on the outside. But, as one who accepts what he is given in life, I accepted it and enjoyed it.
For dessert, we split the lemon tart for two ($12), which was excellent, very lemony, although not of the size you might expect from a dish billed as being for two.
Take points off the meal for a few aspects: the “artisan” bread that came with the meal wasn’t as good as that at Le Pain Quotidien a block away; the service was fair but not outstanding; and the view, of an industrial plant across the street, isn’t what you would call inspiring.
Total bill, by the way: $144.51. Gulp.
That said, the experience was a cut above Fleming’s, the steakhouse in Victoria Gardens, if a cut below Ruth’s Chris in Pasadena. Would we go back to Three Forks? On a rare occasion, sure. Perhaps to try the farmers market dinners on Sundays, which sound intriguing.
Plus, you never know when you might want the Three Forks specialty, a reduction of your bank account. And a dose of rusticity.