When I was invited to come to the Grand opening I was just so excited to see new life brought to this Toluca Lake staple. With its great history as Mo’s and before Hamptons, it lends itself to being a really great addition to this neighborhood. This place offers contemporary global cuisine and time-honored cocktails with a twist.
I had a perfect seat at a huge table right in front of the band, at the grand opening, and I met Jay Sadofsky the owner as the evening progressed; he said to me that I was in the midst of truly great musicians. I said oh really, and he told me who I was listening too. Well unbeknownst to me the lead guitar player is someone that I had known from my misspent youth in San Francisco. Boy was I surprised to know that the amazing Doug Hamblin was right in front of my very eyes.
Monday night when I was there for my tasting, (Doug has a Monday night residency), we had an intimate audience. One of Doug’s big fans and friend was listening, Johnny Rivers, I was hoping for a guest performance but no, instead I got to lavish in the sounds of great Jazz.
On to the new place…..the interior has been done over and it had great bones to work with. To put it mildly, this stunning face-lift is terrific and will make you want to be a regular here. The restaurant features an entirely new interior and a 35-foot long, five-panel painting of Toluca Lake by Don Hanson, a painter for Warner Bros and the movie Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Jurassic Park. Jay Sadofsky says, “The Lake is iconic and so special that we wanted to celebrate it and offer people a view.” Not many people know that there is an actual lake in Toluca Lake despite its namesake, but this writer had the pleasure of enjoying a gorgeous house on that very lake and watch fireworks from a boat on the middle of the water last 4th of July. The home belonged to Bob Wexler, of Wexler Video in Burbank fame, what a party and what a most gracious host… Stunning is all I can say.
Here’s what I tried at the Continental:
Grilled Artichoke with lemon aioli, chipotle chili mango. The artichokes are grilled with a very smoky almost charred flavor and they tasted amazing. The dipping sauces are fantastic as well. I love this dish!
Turkey Meatballs, with parmesean cheese, rustic pomodoro sauce. Very hearty, but packed with really terrific flavor.
Skirt Steak Taco, with radish slaw, jalapeno, guacamole, sriracha aioli. These tacos are very small, but have a nice flavor profile.
Matzo Ball! Imagine, you’re not at a deli, and yet this matzo ball soup is the bomb. Rich with great chicken broth, the matzo ball is light and fluffy. There is a little bit of shredded chicken, with egg noodles, just like my grandmother used to make.
Shaved Radish and Fennel with Taylor farms mixed greens, feta cheese sherry vinaigrette, nice even flavors and not too much of any one ingredient.
Santa Fe Caesar, with roasted corn, tortilla strips, and Parmesan cheese. They do this salad as part of their lunch menu, and I would come back for this one alone, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Sweet Potato Fries, these are nice crispy, thick cut fries.
Mashed Red Potatoes, these potatoes are so smooth and creamy, and they put sour cream in them!
Roasted Veggies, this is just the perfect dish. That’s all I can say
Land and Sea:
Continental Burger with angus beef, hormone, antibiotic free turkey, white cheddar, butter lettuce 1000 island, tomatoes, dill pickle, brioche. Piled high with lots of yummy fresh ingredients, this burger will steal you away from across the street. A far superior burger!
Moroccan Chicken, a half roasted chicken, beluga lentils, sweet potatoes, carrots mustard greens, and saffron curry sauce and grilled ciabatta bread. I have to say, I usually shy away from ordered a half chicken, but this dish will take your breath away. The subtle curry flavor along side the vegetables add to this unbelievable dish.
Thai Seafood Bouillabaisse, with shrimp, bay scallop, calamari, coconut, lemongrass kaffir lime broth, bok choy, cabbage, shitake mushrooms tomato, cilantro. I tried this dish at the grand opening, but this version has so much more flavor, truly amazing.
Baked Turkey Bolognese, with oricchiette, antibiotic, hormone free turkey, pomodoro Parmesan, and breadcrumbs. I really liked this take on a very popular Italian dish.
Penne Mediterraneo, gluten free penne, mustard greens, lentils, olive tapenade roasted red, yellow peppers, feta cheese. This pasta is great without any meat; it is jammed packed with great flavor.
Chickpea Cakes with Peruvian white beans, sweet potatoes, roasted radicchio, kale cherry tomatoes, roasted corn, feta, cilantro, and crispy chickpea cucumber yogurt sauce. Great addition for any vegan diet.
Martini Grey Goose, just the perfect amount of olive juice and vermouth to make this martini one of my best ever and if that was not enough, the Martini is shaken at the table and then a mini shaker is left with you. Perfect!
Tequila A La Betita: el jimador, lime, sugar, orange bitters, and soda. What I really enjoyed about this cocktail is that it goes down really smooth, no big acidic bite to this one.
Chardonnay, Chehalem “INOX” Willamette Valley, 2010. Oregon wines; sometimes good, sometimes not quite ready; this wine though hit all the right buttery notes.
Rousanne/Viognier, Mc Price Myers “Terre Blanche.” Nice fruity wine, would be great with any of the salads.
Pinot Noir, Banshee, Sonoma CA. I loved this one with the great curry flavors in the chicken dish.
Zinfandel, Mobius, Alexander Valley, CA. Big cherry flavors made this wine a sure bet with the pasta Bolognese.
Syrah, Barrel 27 “Right Hand Man”, Central Coast. Rich and jammy, this wine lends itself to the meaty burger.
Vanilla bean Cheese Cake with black bean. Nice creamy texture, a great end to a very satisfying evening.
Salted Pot de Creme served in a jar, by far the best dessert ever!!!
The building was constructed in 1958 as the original home of the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) chain. In the 1970s, IHOP closed to make way for Hampton’s. In 1995, Jay Sadofsky bought the establishment and created Mo’s, a favorite neighborhood joint that served as the unofficial commissary for Warner Bros. Studios, located just a few blocks away, for over 20 years. Founding Partner Jay Sadofsky and new Partner and Executive Chef Jesse Genovese carved a niche in what was an established market. Jesse Genovese, started in his native Hawaii, and expanded out to Spain, London and New York before coming to Los Angeles. Genovese had been the Executive Chef at Ramsey’s at the Club (also owned by Sadofsky) for three years before becoming a partner in Mo’s in 2013. Bar manager Chet Abbott (formerly at Rock Box in Seattle) has created a throwback cocktail list that will make you believe in the art of drinking all over again. There are also 14 beers on tap and nine bottled; beer tasting flights and a wine list is curated by Spin the Bottle Wine Studio owner Doug LaGambina. My waiter Justin Rupple added that extra element to my evening, he was completely on-point, charming and did some incredible imitations; Mark Walberg, Vince Vaughn. Seth M.C. Farland and hit the nail on the head with each one but his President Obama well, you just have to experience it yourself.
It is a casual dinner house, with old school style. An era gone by, modern but definitely a suggestion of reto-60’s classic steak house. Owner Jay made the decision to do away with the old, but keep the familiarity for all of its Mo’s regulars. He has succeeded!
Continental is open from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 11:00 am to 11:00 pm on Friday, 9:00 am to 11:00 pm on Saturday, and 9:00 am to 10:00 pm on Sunday.
This gets my highest recommendation…no excuses, just go!
4301 W. Riverside Dr.
Burbank, CA 91505