Eve’s Wine 101ers — check out this press release for a great new restaurant in Burbank. We visited it recently to check it out for ourselves. You’ll have to wait until next week for the details but if you want to know the answer to the burning question after my last article — Can Michael Perlis stop whining and just enjoy himself? — the answer is: Yes, he can!
Burbank, CA – If these walls could talk, the walls of 4301 W. Riverside Drive in Burbank would certainly have a lot to tell. This building, constructed in 1958 as the original home of the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) chain, has been home to iconic restaurants frequented by Hollywood’s finest and locals for over 60 years. In the 1970s, IHOP closed to make way for Hampton’s, a legendary movie-business hangout that boasted Paul Newman and other stars as regulars. 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. Now, Founding Partner Jay Sadofsky and new Partner and Executive Chef Jesse Genovese are ready to introduce Toluca Lake’s newest dining and drinking destination that officially opened on Thursday evening, February 26th, 2015. Please welcome Continental!
With a full interior makeover and completely new concept that was carefully planned and executed over the past year and a half, MO’S will reopen this evening as the Continental, an upscale, casual eatery combining classic elegance with delicious contemporary cuisine. “Continental is the classic restaurant—a meeting place where anybody can come in, alone or in a group, enjoy a proper cocktail, and great food that is innovative, but still very approachable,” says Sadofsky.
The man responsible for the new dining menu is Partner and Executive Chef, Jesse Genovese. A globetrotting chef who cooked in his native Hawaii, 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. As Partner and Executive Chef at Continental, Genovese says he wants to create “approachable cuisine with a more contemporary flavor profile.”
Perhaps there is no dish on the Continental’s menu that represents Genovese’s philosophy better than his Thai Seafood Bouillabaisse, a stew of fresh shrimp, scallops, calamari and vegetables, cooked in a creamy coconut, lemongrass and kaffir lime broth. “Bouillabaisse is a classic French recipe that every chef learns to make in culinary school, and Thai tom kha soup is one of my favorite things on Earth to eat,” he says. “This dish is my take on both dishes at the same time.”
The rest of Continental’s menu incorporates flavors from all over the world, a reflection of Genovese’s culinary travels and interests. There is a Baked Turkey Bolognese with fresh tomato sauce and orecchiette pasta; Salmon served on a cauliflower-apple purée with fennel, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens and a mustard-caper-balsamic sauce; and Moroccan Chicken with lentils, sweet potatoes, carrots and mustard greens with a saffron curry sauce that is irresistible. “Jesse’s entrees are composed dishes that are wonderfully complex, but very accessible,” says Sadofsky.
Non-meat eaters have plenty of options at Continental as well. Sadofsky, a pescatarian himself, and Genovese, who grew up in a vegetarian home, are both well versed in meatless cuisine. The Jay Bird is a house-made vegan patty served with dairy-free cheddar, vegan bacon and a sriracha thousand island dressing. “It is all the guilty pleasures of eating a bacon cheeseburger without any reference to meat,” Sadofsky says. “I love it.” But don’t worry, there is also the indulgent Continental Burger, served with prime Angus beef, crispy pancetta, tempura-fried dill pickles and white cheddar cheese. Meat lovers rejoice!
At lunchtime, Continental lightens up a bit, offering a wide variety of Salads and Sandwiches alongside the heartier Entrées. Genovese’s favorite of these is the Baby Kale and Farro Salad, which includes shaved Fuji apple, orange segments, feta, toasted almonds and bacon in a sweet-and-tart spiced apple cider vinaigrette. Sadofsky favors the Continental Chopped, an updated take on the classic salad with romaine and radicchio, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, grilled chicken, crispy pancetta, crunchy fried chickpeas and a mustard vinaigrette.
Genovese’s slow-roasted brisket is the highlight of the lunch menu’s sandwich selection, making an appearance in both a Vietnamese Style Banh Mi and a Brisket Rueben. There is also the Bada Bing, a turkey-meatball sandwich with pomodoro sauce, roasted peppers and lots of mozzarella. All told, there are eight entrée salad options and an even dozen sandwiches, including seven burger options ranging from beef to turkey to vegan.
Cocktail drinkers will find a lot to love at Continental as well. Bar Manager Chet Abbott has been working behind the stick for six years, including a stint at Seattle’s Rock Box, a karaoke bar that specializes in Japanese-inflected Mojitos made with ingredients like shiso and sake. “If there is a happy medium between hardcore mixology and a pub, that is where I want to be,” he says. “Continental takes a throwback approach, by featuring classic cocktails with a twist, using top quality ingredients that shine through.”
Kicking off Continental’s Cocktail List is the Tattletale made with Famous Grouse Blended Scotch, Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch, bitters and a dash of honey, which Abbott considers a delightful sipping sensation. Those who enjoy the flavor of a full body espresso will take pleasure in ordering La Dominicana, featuring Zaya Gran Reserva Rum and Galliano Ristretto Liqueur topped with a light and fluffy hand-whipped vanilla cream. Try one of Abbott’s favorites on the list, the Christopher Oaxacan, a cocktail that is both fun to say and even more fun to drink, combining mezcal, pineapple juice, lime juice and agave nectar. It will leave you asking for more “cowbell,” or at the very least, a second cocktail.
Beer does not go unnoticed at Continental, as Abbott has also pulled together a “something for everyone” craft beer list, with fourteen on-tap choices and nine bottles to choose from, most of them from popular California microbrewers like Cismontane, Stone and Ballast Point. Can’t decide on which brew to order? Try the Tasting Flights, where you can order four Light Flights (lager, blonde ale, pale ale and Belgian white) or four Dark Flights (amber ale, brown ale, IPA and stout). Abbott also plans to rotate seasonal and limited edition brews through one or two “guest taps” to keep the selection interesting and ever-changing.
To offer a list of interesting vinos from around the world, Continental partnered with Doug LaGambina, Owner of Spin the Bottle Wine Studio (also in Toluca Lake), to curate Continental’s new list. “I tried to highlight some really good producers who are out there and are not getting a lot of exposure,” LaGambina says. “These are small-production, artisanal wines that deliver quality way beyond their price point.” The initial wine list offers seven reds, six whites and two bubblies, all poured by the glass and all priced between $10.00 and $14.00, representing wineries across the West Coast and even the Finger Lakes region of New York, as well as Spain, Argentina, Italy and France. La Gambina especially recommends the Antonio Sanz Verdejo from Spain, a “very, very distinctive white” that pairs nicely with pasta or fish, and the Barrel 27 Right Hand Man Syrah from California, the perfect complement to steak and other meats.
The centerpiece of Continental’s décor is a new mural depicting the beauty that is Toluca Lake, a five-panel painting, approximately 35 feet long that wraps around two walls. “The restaurant has been on the border of Burbank and Toluca Lake for so long, but not everyone is aware that there is an actual lake, and few people have actually seen it,” states Sadofsky. “The lake is iconic and it is special, so we wanted to celebrate it and offer people a view.”
In a nod to Continental’s film-studio history, Don Hanson painted the mural, a longtime scenic painter for Warner Bros. Hanson’s work can be seen in such classics as Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Jurassic Park, as well as in the painted billboards that formerly graced the studio’s walls along Barham Boulevard. The Continental mural imagines Toluca Lake as it looked in the 1930s, as a way to “pay homage to the culture of that period,” says Sadofsky.
All in all, Continental embraces the enduring sophistication of its two namesakes: the beloved Lincoln Continental and the often-covered song that was a hit for both Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra more than half a century ago. “They are both masterpieces of timeless elegance. They were elegant in 1961, elegant in 2001 and they will be elegant in 3001,” Sadofsky says. “That is exactly the excellence that we are striving to pursue. We are giving you the absolute best we can.”
The Continental is the next page in a story that has been going strong for almost 60 years. Come experience Continental and be a part of 4301 W. Riverside Drive’s newest chapter that will leave you yearning for more!
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. For more information, please visit www.ContinentalLA.com or call Continental directly at 818.845.3009.
Continental Food & Cocktail Photo Credit: acuna-hansen. Continental Interior & Exterior Photo Credit: Gary Kruegar
4301 W. Riverside Dr.
Burbank, CA 91505