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Friday, May 18, 2012

Valley Fort

Since I am well into my fourth decade living in the lovely hills of Fallbrook, I am quite aware of what the Valley Fort Restaurant means to the area. I have seen it pass through various incarnations, original Valley Fort, the catfish period, Cask and Cleaver, etc.

It was the draw that brought many people to town for the first time in the 1960's. Ron tells me that Rudy Vallee used to eat there, along with a lot of other famous people. Unfortunately it sat vacant for a long time and had fell into a sad state of disrepair.

I was really happy to hear that Hank and Patty Hornsveld had bought the property and were planning to reopen the restaurant because I knew that the place would be reincarnated in a first class manner. I still remember Hank's Dad telling me about his day's as a ship's carpenter at the old hardware store in Temecula, so many moons ago. I think that the family knows one way to do things, the right way.

Place opened up a few weeks ago and the things I was hearing were mixed. Bad service, cold food, expensive, the normal bellyaching when a new establishment is finding its way.

I decided to see for myself. I believe that I am a fairly critical person but try to be fair. Things happen, and it takes a little time to get it together, especially with a nascent operation. I never really enjoyed Cask and Cleaver as the steak was more of the western flavored variety and I prefer mine unadulterated and quite rare.

Accompanied by our friends Lev and Beth, we visited the place the night before last. The place was similar to the old days but felt tighter and more spic and span. We entered the voluminous bar and it looked like a very comfortable place to hang out and have a drink.

We were seated and met our server. It was her first day and she was accompanied by an experienced staffer. Ordered drinks and then dinner. It took quite a while to get our drinks.

I ordered a bone in rib eye. I had heard that prices were high but was shocked at actually how low they were. About twenty two bucks for the steak, if I remember correctly. The most expensive steak was the 16 oz. porterhouse that topped out at twenty five dollars. Very reasonable, especially compared to comparable steak houses in the county. Fallbrookians who grouse at the prices might need to get out a bit more and see what they are charging in the world at large. Could have easily been $38.00. And all the sides are free. Someone told me that one of the people that ran Donovan's is helping put the place together. The rest of the table ordered steaks as well, although you could get a wide assortment of fare including fish, lamb, chicken and pasta.

We also received sides and a salad with the entree. I ordered garlic mashed, fresh vegetables and a dinner salad. The rest of my mates went for the caesar.

I am happy to report that the meal was near perfect. A delicious steak, crisp and fresh salad, meal was hot, it really could not have been any better. The generous choice steak tasted like prime beef to me. Superior to the $68.00 steak I had at Wolfgang Puck's Cut in Las Vegas, by a large margin. I ordered it with a delicious bernaise but my table mates enjoyed the other sauces, which included two kinds of horseradish and traditional steak sauce, among others. If I had any complaint it would be that the bread, one of my culinary bugaboos, was not crusty enough, a bit wimpy. Good but wimpy.

We were too stuffed to try the dessert, which included bread pudding and an apple dessert but it all sounded good. We will be back, many times. To those people who have had an initial experience that was less than perfect, I recommend that you give them another shot while they are getting the kinks worked out. We had a very great experience. I think this place will be a great steakhouse. A first class meal. Hooray for the Hornsvelds!


Anonymous said...

Jesus Robby, did these guys pay you in steak or somthin. Well its nice to see youre still eating anyway, all is well here, buzz

Anonymous said...

I happen to agree with you. And the key is that Hank wants it to be a really good place. We support it as well.

Helen Killeen Bauch McHargue said...

We'll be trying it soon. Thanks for the review.

Anonymous said...

Had dinner there sat nite and all four of us were very happy and impressed with both the service and the food.
Yes hanks manager I was told managed Donavons.
Great to have a nice steak house and a decent bar as well. Clam chowder was excellent.
Deli guy.