Dinner at Engine Co. 28 – November 12, 2011

Remember being in your grandmother’s favorite cozy chair, sitting by the fireplace and eating her delicious food? Well you can find that kind of heart-warming experience in the center of downtown Los Angeles. Yes, in your face comfort food at an historic Los Angeles landmark, that’s what Engine Co. 28 is dishing up.

The history of Engine Co. 28 is fascinating, answering its first emergency call on July 23rd, 1913; it would serve the cities emergencies for the next 5 decades. In 1969 the stations service ended and the building fell into disrepair. However, 14 years later, a 5-year preservation effort started. Finally, in 1983, Engine Co. 28 was transformed into its current amazing blend of historic architecture and contemporary design. Then in 1988, the building was recognized as a Historic Cultural Landmark. The interior has the 3 original fire poles; one is in the back of the restaurant, and the 18 foot pressed tin ceilings are remarkable signs of a time gone by. New owner Mark Garegos, the famous criminal defense attorney who defended Michael Jackson, and actress Winona Ryder, add some controversy to this place. There is a history here that you can feel in your bones, like you are dining with all of it’s past heroes. With its storied past, this building and terrific food are guaranteed to rev up your taste buds.

General Manager Robert Perkins was very generous and oh so kind. He recommended many dishes that were specific to the firehouses history. Recipes that were of days gone, inspired by the regional American cooking that flourishes in firehouses around the country.

I started with The Calamari, Mini Pan-Fried Louisiana Crab Cakes both served with remoulade sauce, and Mac and Cheese. Teresa, the very knowledgeable bartender made me a proper 3 olive Ketel One Martini to pair with my appetizers.

They have a great wine list. They offer many wines that are not available at most restaurants with a lot of attention to detail, at very good prices. I did wines by the glass and had amazing pairings with all of my food.

On to the Iceberg Lettuce Wedge Salad with shaved red onions, diced tomatoes, creamy blue cheese dressing, the Caesar Salad with grated Parmesan cheese. Both salads were paired with a Sauvignon Blanc St. Supery / Napa Valley 2007. Roasted Sweet Corn Chowder, a firehouse tradition. Firehouse Chili with Angus beef, roasted New Mexico chiles warm sopapillas, cheddar cheese, and green onions on the side. Corn Bread with Cheesy sweet corn, jalapeño, and a Cajun compound butter! I also tried the Route 1 Cabernet Sauvignon / Chilean, which brought out the spicy side of the chili.
The entrees were: Engine Co. Meatloaf with mashed potatoes, and sautéed Spinach. Southern Style Pan-Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach. Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes, country gravy, and coleslaw. Braised Lamb Shank slowly cooked, with mire poix. 10 oz. Prime New York Steak with mashed potatoes, vegetables, jalapeño jelly. Grilled Fresh Calf’s Liver with mashed potatoes, bacon, and sweet caramelized onions. Linguini Shrimp, with basil, white clam sauce. All of the entrees were paired with a Xombria Shiraz, which was very capable of standing up to all the rich meaty and seafood flavors.

So much food, so little time, and everything made from scratch, comfort food at it’s finest. OK I am going to tell you my favorites all served with a smile by Adam! Corn Bread with cheesy sweet corn, jalapeño, and a Cajun compound butter, truly big-time party in your mouth. Deep Fried Calamari with rémoulade and cocktail sauce, I have had this at many restaurants, this calamari is straight to the point, cooked crispy, yet tender, right amount of everything to make your taste buds dance. Roasted Sweet Corn Chowder, really delightful. Packed with good sweet corn flavor, but savory rich and creamy at the same time. Firehouse Chili Angus Beef, roasted New Mexico chiles warm sopapillas, cheddar cheese, and green onions on the side. Very spicy but the cheddar cheese adds the right bit of creaminess that rounds out the firehouse heat. There are no beans, but that doesn’t matter, real chili never had beans, a chili to remember loaded with paprika that packs some heat. Linguini Shrimp, Basil, White Clam Sauce, the shrimp popped in your mouth, and the little bites of white clam added to the tantalizing flavors. The linguini was cooked al dente, and perfect. Braised Lamb Shank is slowly cooked until tender, with mire poix. The lamb shank held together, but was extremely tender. The gravy and mire poix had lots of lamb flavor, with the just the right amount of seasoning. Southern Style Pan-Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach, this dish is amazing. The fried chicken manages to keep its golden crispy outside with crazy good tender chicken on the inside, wow, what a taste sensation. Grilled Fresh Calf’s Liver with mashed potatoes, bacon, sweet caramelized onions, this is one dish I grew up eating, seeing that my grandfather was a butcher. The only problem with Calf’s liver preparation is to avoid any of the tough strands of liver and keep everything soft and moist. Well Engine Co. 28 made my child hood memory come back to life, with all the bells and whistles, and five alarms. Tender, no dry over cooked liver here, caramelized onions to die for, what a joyful experience for me!!! All of the accompaniments were done to perfection, blanched Blue Lake green beans, and creamy mashed potatoes, flawlessly sautéed spinach.

I took 3 deserts home to try later: Lemon Meringue Pie, about a mile high, so creamy and tangy, tastes like summer time. Pecan Pie, the pecans were caramelized and the crust was spectacular. Banana Cream Pie was very moist and creamy, a banana lovers delight.

Lots and lots of doggie bags were taken home, if I ate all of this delicious food I would not have be able to fit into the very cute shuttle that they offer, with in a limited mile radius, to get you home safe and sound. The Dalmatian doggy on the window and the blaring Aretha Franklin music seals the deal! What FUN!!!


644 S. Figueroa Street Los Angeles, CA 90017. Phone: (213) 624-6996


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