Once upon a time, I brought you Belcampo’s burger from the Grand Central Market in Downtown LA. It was a solid burger and one that I would absolutely eat again. Yet, when I found myself armed with a gift card sent to me by the good folks at Belcampo themselves*, I just had to make my way to the Santa Monica location for a full-on DineLA Restaurant Week experience.
Not to be limited to just the DineLA menu, we (after a shockingly long wait) ordered some of the Chips and Blue Cheese dip, which was comped due to the long wait. These were literally just chips with blue cheese dressing, but they were pretty wonderful chips and a pretty wonderful dressing as well. I hoped it would be a sign of good things to come.
Thus, I ordered my three-course restaurant week meal. All courses were said to come with Grilled Bread and Lardo butter, to which I added a French Dip Eclair (with Bone Broth Jus), Steak Frites (with fries, Bearnaise-butter and a red wine demi-glaze) and Banana Cream Pie.
When the appetizer round came out, we inquired about the grilled bread that had seemingly gone missing. Turned out it had, but no one had thought to inform us. Apparently it was just so popular that Belcampo simple ran out. They gave us crackers with a pepper dip to try to make up for it, but it sure wasn’t lardo butter.
Nonetheless, we pressed on. The eclair was almost exactly what it sounded like, being a sweeter bread filled with beef slices and a delicious horseradish sauce and jus to dip in. Each element was well conceived and executed, although I am still left wondering what a donut filled with beef instead of custard would taste like and I’ll have to get that answer another time.
The main course was probably the most reasonably-priced delicious steak this side of Outback. That is seriously a compliment. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned and I enjoyed every bite. This stood in a bit of contrast to the fries, which started out strong, only to end up overly salted. I also tried some of my buddy’s tallow fries and can report that they are not worth the extra money, as they tasted just like mine.
Things took a turn when the waitress appeared after the main course to deliver the sad news that there was no longer any banana cream pie. This was devastating not only because banana cream pie is the greatest dessert in the world, but moreso because of the timing. It would have been much more acceptable mentally for this to happen when I placed my order than at the end when I had no time to adequately prepare for the Warm Peach and Apricot Crisp. It was undoubtedly good, but it was also undoubtedly disappointing.
Regardless, Belcampo delivered where it mattered most: the meat. Some work could be done operationally and with the fries, but that meat was so good it almost made me forget about everything else in the world. Almost.
*By the way, this is pretty much the best way for a restaurant to give me free food, because while there might still be some bias, the staff aren’t tipped off to my blogginess and I get an authentic experience.