DIY steakhouse

Posted by Anita on 10.29.06 5:00 PM

steak & potato (c)2006 AECThose of you who visit (or live in) Los Angeles have probably driven past one of the three Clearman’s North Woods Inn restaurants. They’re pretty hard to miss, looking for all the world like a giant log cabin, complete with “snow” on the roof and “icicles” hanging from the eaves. Inside, the rustique effect continues with stained-glass lamps, taxidermy specimens, and bordello-style “art” on the walls.

Once upon a time — in fact, until quite recently — the cocktail waitresses even dressed up in skimpy frontier barmaid costumes, complete with red-plaid shrugs and miniskirts short enough to show off their frilly underpants. The waiters still wear lumberjack outfits right out of Monty Python, with red-plaid vests, black pants, and arm garters. (No hats with ear flaps, alas.)

My mom and dad have been going to Clearman’s for more than 40 years, since before they were married. When we sisters were kids, it was one of the first nice-ish restaurants we ever went to. As you might expect from the decor, the menu runs the gamut from steak to steak, with a few minor detours into fried chicken and kabobs. Before your main course arrives, you always get a pair of salads — a red cabbage slaw and iceberg with blue cheese dressing — and artery-clogging cheesetoast, all served family style. And, of course, every steak comes with a baked potato as big as your head, groaning with fixin’s.

My middle sister’s the only family member who lives in Southern California these days, so our visits to Clearman’s are growing fewer and farther between. Truth be told, I don’t think the food’s as good as it once was. But we keep going, mostly because it’s a sentimental favorite… and probably also because you’ve got to love a place with signs in the bar insisting that you throw your peanut shells on the floor. We’re obviously not the only family that maintains a soft spot for the place, given that they sell their cheesetoast spread in almost every supermarket south of Santa Barbara.

Dad mentioned last week that he wanted us to make Clearman’s-inspired red-cabbage slaw for dinner over the weekend, and we happily obliged. We went whole hog (or is that cow?) by adding — you guessed it — steaks, potatoes, and iceberg lettuce with bleu cheese dressing to the menu. We hunted the local markets for the cheese spread, but came up empty.

When we told Dad about our fruitless search, it took him about 10 seconds to find a recipe for the stuff online. (You now know where I inherited my strong Google-fu from.) I whipped up a quarter-batch, Mom slathered it on some sliced sourdough bread, and we popped it under the broiler. The end result wasn’t bad — in fact, made with butter instead of the standard margarine, I think I like it even better than the original.

The red-cabbage slaw recipe comes from the L.A. Times, and we’ve made it regularly over the years. It’s perfectly fine on its own, but it’s even better mixed up with iceberg and blue-cheese salad.

“Just Like North Woods Inn’s” Red Cabbage Slaw
1/2 head red cabbage
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup + 1T red wine vinegar
3T sugar
4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder

Shred cabbage irregularly, with some coarse and some fine shreds. Combine other ingredients in a bowl (or shake together in a jar or bottle) and pour over the cabbage. Mix well and let stand, refrigerated, for at least a few hours, or over night.

Makes 6-8 servings.

family, meat, recipes, restaurants, SoCal



Comment by Anita

Oh, man. We forgot to throw peanut shells on the floor. :D

Posted on 10.30.06 at 2:30PM

Comment by Jan

Mmmmmmmm, cheese toast!

Posted on 11.04.06 at 3:11PM

Comment by jen's mom

I’m with Dad…I crave this slaw.

Thanks for posting the recipe reminder. I went on a google search last summer when I needed a non-mayo slaw to take to a picnic. The recipe I found needed a lot of tweaking and I never really got “there” with the flavor. I’m trying yours this week.

I have to travel quite a ways to the nearest Clearman’s NWI. I was spoiled by having one in my neighborhood until a few years ago when it was closed down.

Posted on 11.05.06 at 8:01AM

Comment by jen's mom

News flash! This week we needed a non- mayo dressing for cabbage for a picnic…un-red cabbage… is that white cabbage? And.. your perfect red slaw dressing became perfect un-red slaw dressing. Thanks again for posting your recipe for North Woods’ Crack. It’s a craver. It’s a keeper.

Posted on 05.16.07 at 10:26PM

Comment by Anita

Jen’s Mom: I’m so glad that your family enjoyed the slaw. (I saw Jen’s writeup on Bay Area Bites, too…)

It never occurred to me to make it with white/green cabbage. I’ll have to give that a try!

Posted on 05.16.07 at 10:39PM

Comment by Glenda

Does anybody have the receipe for the cheesy, butter topping the Northwoods Inn uses on their baked potatoes?

Posted on 02.01.08 at 7:30PM

Comment by Anita

Yep: Click on the link in the second-to-last paragraph that says “a recipe for the stuff”.

Posted on 02.01.08 at 8:02PM

Comment by Carolyn

So glad I found this recipe. I have moved from CA to TN and really miss the two salads and cheese toast. Anyone have a recipe for the dressing for the green salad/

Posted on 02.22.08 at 6:34PM

Comment by Anita

Carolyn: We always just make our regular old blue-cheese dressing for the green salad. I don’t every recall it being anything special. But maybe we’ll have to go to Clearman’s this summer when we’re down south and find out. :D

Posted on 02.22.08 at 7:02PM

Comment by Carolyn

I really like their dressing and doing some online research tonight came up with one on that claims to be a copy cat of theirs:
Blue Cheese Buttermilk Creamy Dressing

1 c. buttermilk
1 c. sour cream or nonfat sour cream
3 cloves garlic 1/8 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
3 tblsp. blue cheese

In a food processor or heavy duty blender, combine all ingredients except blue cheese. Blend until smooth. Add blue cheese and pulse quickly once or twice. Do not blend.

Refrigerate 4 hours or more before serving to let flavors blend.

The author claims you will never eat bottled blue cheese again after this one.

I’m in heaven. Now I have recipes for both salads and the cheese toast. LOL

Posted on 02.22.08 at 7:46PM

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