Clearman's Steak 'N Stein (Pico Rivera) - Happy Hour

My friend and I found ourselves at Clearman’s Steak 'N Stein in Pico Rivera after running some errands today and decided to hit up happy hour instead of the dining room. Happy hour starts at 3PM and lasts until 7PM Monday - Friday.
Walking in, you’re immediately transported into a different world. It’s dark wood finishes and paintings on the wall makes you feel like you’re at some odd hunting lodge. There’s a roaring fire in the middle of the lounge and the whole restaurant has been decorated for the holiday season.
We found a seat in around the fire pit, and were quickly attended to by Brittany. Premium drinks are only $8 during happy hour and the bartenders know how to make a good, well-balanced drink. I had a couple of fruity vodka-based martinis that were strong enough to give you a hit of booze, but balanced enough to taste good. Well drinks are $6. There are also beer and wine specials, but you really want to come here for the cocktails. I’ve been told that the bar is well-stocked with a selection of good whiskey, bourbon, and scotch, too.
We were both starving since we managed to not have eaten the whole day, so we ordered some snacks to accompany our drinks. All the Happy Hour food items are no more than $10. We ordered unlimited salad service ($10) which comes with red cabbage slaw, salad and house-made croutons with a selection of 3 different salad dressings (French, Thousand Island, and a house-made mix of ranch and green goddess), and cheesy garlic bread. The garlic bread is just thick slices of French bread slathered with garlic butter and some kind of cheese mixture…it’s divine…and like crack. We tagged on a gigantic steakhouse baked potato service ($7) that includes plenty of butter, house-made warm cheese sauce, sour cream, and chopped green onions. I enjoy how they leave you with a tray of all the condiments to put on as much (or as little) as you want. We also included an order of Teriyaki steak tips ($8) because you have to have some steak at a steakhouse, right? The tips were some big chunks of extremely well-cooked steak lightly seasoned with Teriyaki sauce. Ours was a perfect rare.
We had 2 deliveries of the unlimited salad service, so we were too full to have dessert. But we did have a dessert cocktail called the Cinnabon Martini…rum chata with Fireball whiskey…with a finish of ground cinnamon it smelled like a holiday cookie and was a nice way to end the meal.
We arrived at 4:30PM and the place was pretty slow except for some folks having an early dinner or locals who are already at the bar hitting up happy hour. But as the evening wore on, the restaurant picked up and was packed in no time. In the bar/lounge area, a musical performer showed up at around 5/5:30PM to entertain the Friday crowd with a mix of jazz and adult contemporary. With the fire and the crowd, it was a nice way to spend the evening with a friend.

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Sometimes Old School really hits the spot and I have a soft spot for all the Clearman’s places – I grew up in Whittier, and the trip to neighboring Pico Rivera to Steak N Stein was always a treat, or even an excursion to what was then the only North Woods Inn, in the SGV. Now, about once a year I hit up the North Woods Inn off the 5 in La Mirada/Buena Park, to toss some peanuts on the floor, fill up on the salads with too much dressing, some red slaw, relatively cheap but much better than it should be steak, and that amazing cheese bread, along with solid, if pretty straight forward cocktails. (And then, off to the doctors for an angioplasty…)

These places don’t quite have the upscale elegant retro vibe of Dal Rae, and the food is a notch below, but if you are nearby they are great places for a relaxed meal in a neighborhood steakhouse/roadhouse sort of atmosphere that we don’t have a lot of around here. (On the way home from Disneyland I once went to North Woods Inn with a friend from Wisconsin, and the first thing he said was “Hey, we have a lot of roadhouses back home like this” – so I guess they got the vibe and menu right, though he did note the absence of a regular Fish Fry night…)

For those curious about what he was talking about, this site has a nice short film about Supper Clubs/Roadhouses and does a nice job of capturing what they are all about --make sure and visit one if ever in Wisconsin --they’re always a good time.

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