The Truly Timeless Tam
For some years now, I have celebrated my birthday at the Tam O’Shanter Inn, partly because it’s such a pleasantly different restaurant with wonderful cuisine and service. Also, because its 87-year history outmodes my advancing ‘40 forever’ pose so that the Palate will never catch up with the turn of the 20th century Scottish costumes and setting at the truly timeless Tam on Los Feliz Blvd., almost at the edge of Glendale.
Not only have I dined at the Tam for over three decades, I broadcast my Celebrity Table show there in the mid ‘80s. One of my guests was the enduring film and TV actor, Cesar Romero, who recalled hitching his steed at the early Tam for a burger and coffee in the ‘30s (when the street had a riding path that connected to Griffith Park). These days, it takes a lot of horsepower to maneuver the teeming Los Feliz traffic, but the Tam remains serene, and is still owned and operated by the Frank family (who also operate Lawry’s Prime Rib on La Cienega and other distinguished restaurants across the nation and abroad).
That Lawry’s association also relates the high quality of the Tam’s signature steaks, ribs and prime rib, and enjoyed by three generations of regulars.
Vivacious and tireless, Gina Doyle is the first woman to serve as the Tam’s General Manager, and she has perked the staff and expanded special events like the gigantic tented St. Patrick’s Day packed with celebrates. Gina is a welcome addition.
Still and always, the heavy percentage of 7-day each week, 12-month return patronage derives ultimately from satisfaction with quality, service and value for the dine-out dollar which the Tam serves up smooth as its $3.50 side of creamed spinach. The mid-day menu offers a prime rib sandwich with au jus on toasted ciabatta ($17), or a burger ‘your way‘ served on toasted brioche with thousand island dressing, lettuce and tomato plus a choice of three sides ($15). There’s a rotisserie chicken sandwich with arugula, red onion and green goddess dressing on toasted ciabatta ($15) and more, with an array of starters from $6 to $14, as well as fresh entrée salads from $14. Of course, the full bar is open and the grand wine list is available.
The Tam O’Shanter is first and foremost a dinner house with a stellar menu featuring four cuts of carved prime rib cooked to order (priced from $22 to $35 depending on your appetite) and served with mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and creamed spinach or corn. (Carry-home boxes are cheerfully provided.) Other favorite entrées, priced from $17 to $25, include a turkey platter, a generous filet of Alaskan wild salmon (seared then baked), the traditional ‘toad in the hole’ (popular but not a Palate pleaser) and its tender, tasty signature 8 oz. rib eye steak topped with crispy onions, mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies. The Palate highly recommends a starter course of tasty cheese-topped French onion soup ($5.50); a bowl full of flavor.
Our server was Jay, an affable and efficient young Scot who went the extra mile to please with an ice bucket for our bottle of crisp Pinot Grigio, and didn’t insist on a staff sing-along birthday greeting while we savored the Tam’s eloquent dessert, a sinfully hot, sweet chocolate soufflé ($9); rich enough to share.
The Tam O’Shanter Inn also serves an appealing Sunday Champagne Brunch, accommodating private parties, and provides valet parking ($3.50 fee). There’ll be special holiday menus for Easter and on Mother’s Day. Reservations are recommended by calling (323) 664-0228.