The latest culinary adventure of the Food Dudes brought us to one of the finest restaurants in Bakersfield: the Belvedere Room in the Padre Hotel.

Founded in 1928, this restaurant has gone through many chapters and phases, some more successful than others. Walk in today and it becomes immediately obvious that the Belvedere Room has found its stride.

We visited on a Friday evening and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. The high ceilings were accentuated by the giant, floor-to-ceiling drapes and tall, tufted upholstery on the walls. The art-deco sconces protruding from the vertical mirrors gave off a soft light that paired well with the smooth sounds of big band jazz in the background.

Everything was perfectly placed on each table. The teal accents from the walls were matched by the color of the menus (and by the jewelry of our waitress). And if you look closely, you’ll notice the presence of Bakersfield’s agriculture heritage honored in the murals on the windows with such phrases as “oil in my blood” spelled across the art.

We would have been sold on the Belvedere Room by the ambiance alone, but the meal that followed took things to an even higher level. We love that the executive chef introduces a new seasonal menu every three months (including their next debut this month).

And since this restaurant is open 365 days a year, we look forward to coming back time and time again!

Appetizers

Traco Matthews on the bacon arugula salad: For me, the bacon arugula salad stood out among the starters for a couple of reasons. The first is obvious: bacon! The smoky flavor added a special element to a traditional blend. I also loved the texture. The crisp arugula and juicy cherry tomatoes combined with the crunchy bacon to create a fresh, tasty salad.

Jeremy Hearron on the lamb belly: If you want a rich, amazingly fatty, succulent starter, this is it. The lamb belly is braised with pomegranate seeds, molasses, toasted pistachios and pinot noir. You get the richness of all of the flavors coming together in the sauce combined with the char of the lamb. This dish is unctuous and as sexy as can be.

Henry Sanchez on theprime beef tartare: As an appetizer, I wanted to try something I have never had before. So I ordered the prime beef tartare. I was a little worried about ground raw meat but to my surprise, it was delish. The tartare came with a few sides; my favorite was to put a little on some grilled toast and hit it was a dab of farm yolk and truffle.

Robert Gautney on the crispy Brussels sprouts: I love Brussels sprouts and couldn’t wait until I had them in front of me. It’s the first time I have had them with all of the ingredients that chef Chris Sayre lays upon you. Golden raisins, pecans and bacon would make a delicious side, but with the addition of blue cheese, well let’s just say that I didn’t want to share with my fellow Food Dudes. This version of Brussels sprouts is soft and crispy – a must for great Brussels sprouts and will check many of your taste bud boxes.

Josh Fitzpatrick on the baby beet salad: If I’m honest, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear “beets” is Dwight Schrute from “The Office.” Needless to say, I was more than pleasantly surprised by this salad! The mix of sweetness from the beets, the sharpness of the chevre goat cheese and the crunch of the candied pecans all combine to create a starter with a perfectly diverse flavor profile and textural experience.

Jeremy Hearron on the cauliflower: Cauliflower is the new asparagus and the Belvedere does it right – in fact, better than right. The dish comes out with an orange hue, an interesting touch, but once you dive in, hello flavor! The color on the cauliflower is from a gremolata and romesco sauce, which adds a nice smoky, sweet, peppery, citrus background. Toasted almonds give the slight hint of woody, nutty flavor. And as I wanted, the dish finishes with that very recognizable cauliflower presence.

Entrees

Josh Fitzpatrick on the butter-poached Maine lobster tail: From the artistic presentation to the last bite, this lobster tail was phenomenal. I felt bad cutting into this dish, as I knew it would mean ruining the display of the delicately balanced lobster meat on top of the shell from which it came. I quickly got over my initial worries, though, as I dipped a bite in melted butter and tasted how perfectly it had been prepared.

Jeremy Hearron on the bone-in rib-eye steak: I ordered this baby medium-rare and waited for 18 ounces of heaven on a plate to arrive. When it arrived, the cooking temp was perfect. Juicy, a hint of salt and pepper, but the true star was the cut itself. Fantastic marbling led to the balance of butter and meat one would desire from a rib-eye. The Belvedere paired my steak with a Newton Sky Cab Merlot blend. Can you say match made in heaven?

Robert Gautney on the best damn lobster mac ’n’ cheese: There are plenty of mac ’n’ cheese ensembles all over town but this one has to be right at the top. The Maine lobster coupled with the white cheddar-gruyere cheese sauce makes for one super rich and tasty dish. Add in perfectly textured conchigliette pasta, a few English peas and topped with truffled Parmesan panko crust and this bad boy will fill you up fast with each savory bite. It’s a two-person dish, but that’s two happy patrons!

Traco Matthews on the grilled rack of elk: Things got crazy delicious when we hit the entrees. I tried the grilled rack of elk off the chef’s special menu, and it was to die for! Grilled to a medium-rare, it was tender and buttery smooth. The seasonings were straightforward – salt, cracked pepper, rosemary and a little thyme – but the taste was magnificent. Combined with a remarkable cherry glaze that was slightly sweet and tangy, it was the best piece of meat I’ve had in a year.

Henry Sanchez on the wagyu steak: For my entree, I got a 14-ounce, medium-rare wagyu steak with a side of blue cheese mash potatoes and broccoli florets. The steak was perfect – hands-down one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. It was nicely seared and seasoned. I now know what people mean when they say a steak is supposed to melt in your mouth. The blue cheese mash potatoes were on point – rich, creamy and flavorful. The broccoli balanced out the dish and gave it that nice crush it was missing. I’ll be back for sure.

Desserts

Robert Gautney on the pavlova with lemon meringue and berries: It would take too many paragraphs to rightly explain this dessert, but all you have to know is that the soft, yet crisp bottom crust melts in your mouth as soon as it enters. Yes, it really does melt! But you can’t take a bite without the lemon meringue, whipped cream and at least one raspberry and one boysenberry all together. It’s light and fluffy but packs a sweet punch!

Traco Matthews on the triple berry galette: My night ended with the triple berry galette. Generally, sweet strawberries, tart blackberries and red raspberries folded into a crispy crust always make my night, and this was no exception. The dessert was topped with rich vanilla ice cream, and it served as a delightful culmination of a meal executed impeccably. 

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