Glass of Heavy Handed Indian Pale Ale, a seasonal craft at Bakersfield, 330 E. Ogden Ave in Westmont. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
330 E. Ogden Ave., Westmont
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Monday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Prices: Appetizers, $11-$16; sandwiches, $12-$17; entrees, $15-$32; desserts, $7.
Try: Smoked salmon, Good House Salad, roast prime rib all fare well at the hands of Bakersfield’s kitchen staff. They’re at home with fresh fish, too.
Tips: Reservations accepted. Complimentary parking, self or valet. Full bar service.
In a bite: Bakersfield is a noteworthy addition to the dining scene in Westmont, where American favorites get their due.
KEY: ★★★★ Extraordinary; ★★★ Excellent;
★★ Very Good; ★ Good;
Zero stars: Poor
With a concentration mainly on American standards, Bakersfield is a refreshing newcomer to Westmont.
The freestanding 175-seat establishment, which opened in May, is the brainhchild of the same creative team behind the successful Standard Market and popular in-store Standard Grill across the street.
It makes a positive impression outside and in with modern structural lines and elegant yet casual dining space. A fire pit and strategically placed portable heaters extend use of an attractive brick-walled patio. The dining area features oversized booths, an open kitchen viewable from a bar-height table and a floor-to-ceiling glass-enclosed wine room.
Smoked salmon ($12) made a delectable appetizer two can easily share. Bursting with flavor, the thick filet came with a cream cheese-based spread and thin crispy crackers. Among other starter choices were house-made guacamole, tacos and crispy Thai shrimp.
Also commendable was the Good House Salad, available in individual (“baby”) and large-size versions. Its mixed greens, tomato, bacon, corn and cornbread croutons were in perfect harmony with a superb blue cheese dressing, one of several available choices.
Main-course dishes range from $15-$32, and the menu offers a broad selection. Butchered on the premises, steaks are cooked to order on a wood-fired grill. Barrel-Cut Filets (the most tender end of the boneless rib eye) and 72-hour dry rub Cajun rib eye are among popular signature entrees.
I was impressed by the high quality of the house-roasted prime rib — not a dish that usually grabs my attention. Though it will never be a calorie-counter’s first pick, the meat was tender and flavorful and meticulously well-trimmed of extraneous fat. It came with au jus and a creamy horseradish sauce, while an accompanying “loaded potato” stuffed with cheese and bacon pushed this course over the top.
Another excellent preparation was trout crusted with crushed Marcona almonds and grainy Creole mustard. Fish typically has a narrow window in terms of how long it can linger on the grill, and Bakersfield’s chef got it just right.
Still other available entrees were fried chicken with smashed potatoes, stuffed gnocchi and meatballs and Brian’s seasonal veggie plate (the Brian a reference to Executive Chef Brian Wright).
Large portions almost guarantee leftovers, and servers are experienced at packaging to-go boxes. Bakersfield also is flexible about substitutions, seamlessly replacing, for example, grilled brussels sprouts on one order as a stand-in for another vegetable.
Among the sandwich offerings, there’s an intriguing one starring a sweet Maine lobster, cole slaw and arugula. But it was time to check out dessert, and this so-called Knuckle sandwich ($18) would have to wait for another visit.
A double-nut brownie and fried Oreos with ice cream, custard and chocolate sauce were among the available confections. You can’t go wrong with a serving of the tres leches cake topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit (strawberry, blueberry, peach and banana) resting on a swirl of caramel. It’s a smart presentation.
Bakersfield also has a nicely appointed full-service bar that dispenses specialty cocktails, domestic and international wines and a selection of draft and bottled beers. For a smooth, well-balanced beverage, try Heavy Handed India Pale Ale, a seasonal craft beer from nearby Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville.
Thomas Witom is a local free-lance writer.