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EAT, DRINK & PLAY   -   THE DISH
Dee-lish! - Abbey Lane
The New Dinner Menu is Both Ambitious and Tasty
November, 2006 - Issue #25
Honey Soy Charred Ahi Loin
Honey Soy Charred Ahi Loin
Take a trek off the beaten path and you'll find a local gem: Abbey Lane.

Hidden in the corner of a small strip mall in the heart of the residential neighborhood of Stevenson Ranch, the casual Abbey Lane Cafe is now offering a new dinner menu to complement its already popular - and delicious - breakfast and lunch fare.

Black and white photography of European spots cover its walls. Painted picnic tables interspersed with small mosaic tables and wrought iron chairs evoke a country-French ambiance. The small, intimate space has an appealing, eclectic charm that lends itself to lingering over the food. And with all fresh ingredients in a decidedly ambitious menu from chef Brian Algee, you'll want to linger over the meal. That way you have time to savor the bold flavors of the main courses and to build up an appetite for the luscious cakes available for dessert.

A glass of owner Jason Gourson's hand-selected wines ($5-$8) or beers ($3.75), or even one of Abbey Lane's Pellegrino herb-infused elixirs ($4), is a pleasant way to begin dinner. For those wine connoisseurs who prefer to bring their own bottles, there is only a $5 corkage fee. After a drink, perhaps you'll want to start off with an appetizer. Craving crab cakes? The kitchen turns out spicy, bell-pepper-flecked Jumbo Crab Cakes ($12) alongside a small Caesar salad. While the salad dressing could benefit from some extra zing, the whole grain mustard sauce accompanying the perfectly sauteed crab cakes is just right. Korean Style Beef Short Ribs ($12) is another starter bound to pique interest. The sweet Asian glaze has great flavor, but the cut of short ribs contain quite a bit of marbling that make the ribs difficult to eat. The crunchy carrot-cabbage slaw mounded in the middle of the plate is imbued with the nutty flavor of sesame oil. For the large group, the Abbey Lane Sampler ($17) has a little bit of everything: Asian hot wings, coconut shrimp, spring rolls and fresh vegetables with dips.

Moving on to the main courses, there is plenty to choose from that pleases both eye and palate. The Oven Roasted Sea Bass ($15) served with mango sauce and bruleed mango is a popular choice. Another offering from the sea is the beautifully presented Honey Soy Charred Ahi Loin ($15), seared to perfection. It's accompanied by a fresh black bean-tomato-relish and an amazing cucumber salad marinated in chili sesame oil. The heat of the chili oil is the perfect foil for the cool, crisp cucumber. Crab and Shrimp Filled Cannelloni ($16) are delicate seafood-filled crepes covered with a creamy pesto sauce. For those who want poultry, chef Algee has created a winning recipe for chicken and rice. Lemon Garlic Cumin Marinated Chicken ($12) comes with Jasmine rice that has been sauteed with chorizo sausage. It's incredibly rich-tasting - and incredibly good. If you're in the mood for steak, you won't be disappointed by the Kansas City Style New York Strip ($25). Grilled steak topped with tangy blue cheese is a fitting contrast for the sweet, mellow flavor of the accompanying caramelized onions. Large, crunchy onion rings and horseradish-flavored mashed potatoes provide further flavor and interest to this impressive entree.

While it's practically impossible not to fill up between the starter and main course, no one should leave Abbey Lane without sampling at least one of their delectable baked goods. Even if it means you order a slice of cake ($6.50) or a dessert bar ($2-$3.95) to take home for a midnight snack, you'll be glad you did. The owner orders a variety of cakes and from several Los Angeles bakeries: Whether you want a piece of fudgy chocolate cake covered with ribbons of chocolate; a moist lemon bundt cake covered with white chocolate icing; a strawberry-filled whipped cream cake; or a traditional-style cheesecake studded with chocolate chips, there will certainly be at least one item to tempt you. As for me, I sampled two versions of the trendy Red Velvet Cake, so named for the cake's distinctive deep red color. One version has a light, sugary-sweet buttercream frosting and pecans that lends homestyle appeal. The other has a slightly tangy cream cheese frosting and is elegantly decorated with frosted flowers. Which one is better? Hmm, I'll have to go back and try them again to make my decision. Don't be surprised if you want to do the same after you've eaten at Abbey Lane.

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Abbey Lane Cafe is located at 25810 W. Hemingway Avenue in Stevenson Ranch and can be reached at 254-3090. Hours are Monday through Wednesday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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