I can attest to the fact that I’ve been to quite a number of Hard Rock Cafe’s. To be quite honest, I’ve been to the gift shops, not to the restaurants. It’s because my wife used to collect t-shirts and my niece collects guitar pins.
I have eaten in the restaurant a few times. While I thought that their burgers and salads were tasty, they were not on my list of destination restaurants. The food was predictable, but I prefer going to a place where the chef really cares about making a difference.
Not long ago, the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood hosted a tasting menu event. I’ve been to the Dolby Theatre a number of times and was surprised to learn that the Hard Rock Cafe resides in the same building.
The Hard Rock Cafe has been in business for 43 years. Since their inception, their focus has always been on preparing tasty versions of American classics. After observing the new trends, they made a strategic decision to convert their kitchens into “scratch kitchens” and place an emphasis on quality fresh ingredients. The concept was then deployed in their 15 test cafes worldwide: Europe, Asia, Latin America and the US.
First we sampled was a colorful flight of margaritas. Named “Air Mexico”, it was a sampling-sized portion of Hard Rock Cafe’s signature margaritas which feature Premium Avión Silver Tequila. Guests can select from three of the following flavors: watermelon, mango, cucumber, blue curacao, pomegranate or wildberry. Of these, I preferred the watermelon and the pomegranate varieties. Air Mexico also includes their housemade chips and guacamole.
Carb watchers will be delighted with the grilled chicken arugula salad. Consisting of baby arugula, sliced grilled chicken, pecans, dried cranberries and fresh oranges tossed in lemon balsamic vinaigrette, topped with crumbled feta cheese, the fresh fruit worked very well with the pecans and the lemon balsamic vinaigrette.
Hard Rock is certainly keeping track of the craft beer market as they featured Black Market Brewing from Temecula, Helles Lager from Hangar 24 in Redlands, Rustic Rye IPA from Bootletter’s Brewery, Point the Way IPA from Golden Road Brewery in Eagle Rock and Stone Pale Ale from Stone Brewing in San Diego.
The ‘Nachopalooza’ consists of tortilla chips piled high, layered with a three bean mix, Monterrey Jack, cheddar cheeses, freshly made pico de gallo, jalapenos, green onions and sour cream. It replaced a two layer cheese nacho dish on their previous menu. While I verified that this was tasty, you can take it over the top by adding smoked beef brisket, southwest chicken or fajita beef. I thought to myself that it would be fun to replicate the smoked beef brisket Nachopalooza for the next Super Bowl.
The grilled Norwegian salmon is something that I won’t forget. It was an 8-oz filet, wrapped in cedar paper, grilled tender and drizzled with sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. The filet was extremely moist on the inside and the cedar paper intensified the smoky flavor. The Norwegian salmon is available for dinner with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and a seasonal veggie.
Quality is of extreme importance to Executive Chef Leonard Delgado. In fact, when he searched for the bun that he wanted to represent his hamburger, he ended up sampling 27 different buns. Further he added that the kitchen had to be converted to 24×7 operation to truly create quality barbecue.
Delgado added that they brine the chicken for 8 hours. After the chicken is roasted, it is finished off in a 500 degree broiler. I think they succeeded in their endeavor; the chicken was very moist on the inside and had a crisp smoky exterior.
Their beef brisket is slow-cooked beef brisket and topped with housemade hickory barbecue sauce. A dry rub with oil is massaged into brisket. It is then smoked for 14 hours.
While I enjoyed the chicken and the brisket, my favorite was their barbecue ribs. They are prepared St. Louis style and benefit from Hard Rock’s signature rub. The St. Louis style hickory bbq sauce is then applied to sweeten the overall flavor. The ribs were extremely tender, sweet and tangy.
Slider versions of four of their burgers were served next. Of the four, my favorite was the hickory barbecue bacon slider. This is basted with hickory barbecue sauce and topped with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato.
The Twist and Shout shake is made with Bacardi OakHeart Spiced Rum, Guinness Stout, DeKuyper Dark Creme de Cacao, chocolate syrup, vanilla ice cream and Monin Salted Caramel Syrup. The drink was topped with whipped cream, caramel, chocolate syrup and bacon pieces. The combination of sweet and saltiness topped with bacon & whipped cream was truly incredible. I’d definitely order this drink again.
The Hard Rock Cafe provides food and drink that transcends the standard burger brick and mortar restaurant. They’ve succeeded with their scratch kitchen concept and have created a restaurant that is truly worthy of that memorable meal. It is an ideal destination before going to the El Capitan, Pantages and Dolby Theatres or even for a birthday meal.
On Saturday, November 8, The Hard Rock Cafe is shutting down Hollywood Blvd to sponsor their annual Run Hard Rock Cafe 5K. Proceeds from every registration fee will benefit My Friend’s Place, a local nonprofit, which is dedicated to assisting and inspiring homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives.
Registration is available online at: www.RunHardRockCafe.com.
- Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood
- 6801 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, Ca 90028; (323) 464-7625
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hardrockcafehollywoodblvd
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/hrchollywood