While Damon's version of such tropical drinks as the Mai Tai and Chi Chi often overshadow everything else on the menu, tiki and umbrella drinks aside, Damon's remains, above all else, a steak house. If you are looking for the Polynesian dishes to match the surroundings, you will be disappointed. Here, meat and potatoes rule the Big Kahuna.
Despite new ownership in 2005, the menu has not changed much in the last 70 years. The steaks and prime rib still dominate the list of entrees, but the menu also includes a broiled chicken breast, seafood and a meatless Portobello mushroom stack.
The night we were there, we chose the shrimp cocktail appetizer served fresh with a piquant cocktail sauce. The garlic Parmesan potato chips more than fill the need for something crunchy, salty and full of flavor.
The wine list includes a moderate selection of the typical Cabernet Sauvignons, merlots, chardonnays and sparkling wines. Damon's also offers a few domestic and imported beers, but most guests seem to indulge in the fruity (and potent) island favorites, including the Singapore Sling, Blue Hawaiian, and CopaBanana.
By seven o'clock on a Friday night, the restaurant starts to fill up with a mix of families, couples and friends. Dressed casually, everyone appears content to let the island atmosphere wash away the outside world.
Our waitress brings us a generous bowl of salad that she tosses table-side with Damon's famous house salad dressing, a tangy French-like dressing but not quite as sweet. We also share a basket of warm French bread and garlic toast.
Our steaks arrive, but the sight of the giant twice-baked potato that takes up almost half the plate makes you gasp. My steak is true medium-rare. The potato tastes a little bland but I soon realize any addition would take too much away from the steak.
My cousin Ron takes a bite of his fresh ground steak with gravy. He nods in approval. Nothing else needs to be said. Despite the balance of meat and potatoes on our plates, we share an order of grilled asparagus parmesan that adds a bit of crunch to our meal.
We hear the guests around us asking for take-home containers. As we see a waitress pass us with slices of Killer Chocolate Cake and Kona Coffee Mudd Pie, we realize what loyal patrons have always known — save room for dessert.
Next time, we will know better. Of course, after such an adventure, we thank the Big Kahuna we do not have to wade through sand and turf to get back to the car and civilization.
CHRISTINE PUTNAM can be contacted by e-mail at EatingInBurbankaol.com.