EXPRESS-ING AN INTEREST IN OSTRICH.
Byline: Larry Lipson Daily News Restaurant Critic
``We stopped making the ostrich ostrich, common name for a large flightless bird (Struthio camelus) of Africa and parts of SW Asia, allied to the rhea, the emu and the extinct moa. It is the largest of living birds; some males reach a height of 8 ft (244 cm) and weigh from 200 to 300 lb soup. Nobody liked it.''
Consequently, I never got to taste what was listed as ``delicious ostrich soup'' on the menu of Chef's Express, a new, order-at-the-counter fast-food spot in Studio City.
Perhaps I'm lucky.
But I did get to taste the ostrich steak dinner ($10.95), one of four ostrich items available at this interesting food outlet.
And truthfully, the lean, marinated version was as good or better than much of the beef I've eaten lately.
First of all, it seemed to have retained enough moisture even though it was fairly well cooked.
And there were strong inklings of red-meaty flavor there, too, despite the obvious fact that ostrich is a bird.
But the vegetables, a mixture of mostly green beans with some peas and corn - a sort of succotash, I guess - were tasteless, almost completely void of any flavor.
However, steamed, seemingly fresher, vegetables on another night, served with prime rib ($9.25), denoted a vast improvement both in taste and texture.
Yet on two occasions the smallish foil-wrapped baked potato included with both the prime rib and ostrich meals was, at best, merely passable pass·a·ble
1. That can be passed, traversed, or crossed; navigable: a passable road.
2. Acceptable for general circulation: passable currency.
And soups here have definitely been odd.
One was a turkey rice recipe that had been thickened thick·en
tr. & intr.v. thick·ened, thick·en·ing, thick·ens
1. To make or become thick or thicker: Thicken the sauce with cornstarch. The crowd thickened near the doorway.
2. so much - probably by cornstarch cornstarch, material made by pulverizing the ground, dried residue of corn grains after preparatory soaking and the removal of the embryo and the outer covering. It is used as laundry starch, in sizing paper, in making adhesives, and in cooking. - it seemed almost gelatinous gelatinous /ge·lat·i·nous/ (je-lat´i-nus) like jelly or softened gelatin.
1. Of, relating to, or containing gelatin.
2. Resembling gelatin; viscous. .
Another was called simply vegetable soup. It left the distinct impression of combining a watery bouillon-cubelike broth with a scant scattering of cut-up veggies Veggies of Nottingham, also known as Veggies Catering Campaign, is a campaigning group based in Nottingham, England, promoting ethicalbum alternatives to mainstream fast food. .
Even with the menu ups and downs ups and downs
Alternating periods of good and bad fortune or spirits.
ups and downs
alternating periods of good and bad luck or high and low spirits , the prices of the Chef's Express dishes are difficult to resist.
In fact, the prime rib appeared to be an astounding a·stound
tr.v. a·stound·ed, a·stound·ing, a·stounds
To astonish and bewilder. See Synonyms at surprise.
[From Middle English astoned, past participle of astonen, bargain.
Unfortunately, at least a third of the medium thick slice was fat. Again ironically, the remainder of the serving actually matched in quality some of the town's better slabs of the same cut of beef Noun 1. cut of beef - cut of meat from beef cattle
cut of meat, cut - a piece of meat that has been cut from an animal carcass
chuck - the part of a forequarter from the neck to the ribs and including the shoulder blade , especially when doused with the accompanying ``au jus.''
Back to our feathered friends.
Turkey comes from freshly roasted birds and the sliced meat looks quite attractive on the open face sandwich ($6.50) with mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy.
But both the gravy and the stuffing had an institutional taste and texture.
Ostrich is available in stir-fried strips with bell peppers, mushrooms and broccoli or with similar strips atop salad.
Turkey also comes barbecued or in drumstick drumstick /drum·stick/ (-stik) a nuclear lobule attached by a slender strand to the nucleus of some polymorphonuclear leukocytes of normal females but not of normal males. form.
There are Asian-style beef or chicken rice bowl offerings, half-chickens (roasted or barbecued), barbecued beef ribs and sliced beef items.
All are priced well under $10, some under $5.
Chef's Express also sells ``hand-carved sandwiches'' utilizing the same ostrich, turkey, beef and chicken. And there are pie and cake desserts.
Certainly plenty of things to choose from at this somewhat novel fast-food cafe, but I'm still wondering how that ostrich soup would have tasted.
The restaurant: Chef's Express.
Where: 11935 Ventura Blvd., Studio City.
Phone: (818) 769-3333.
When: Open for lunch, dinner and snacks from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Recommended items: Ostrich steak with steamed fresh vegetables, prime rib (trimmed lean).
How much: Starters from $1.50 to $2.75, sandwiches and salads from $4.39 to $5.25, desserts $1.75 each.
Our rating: Two stars for food; Three stars for value.