Clearman’s Steak ‘N Stein
Finding a good restaurant anywhere can be a challenging task, especially if one has the craving for a particular taste. In Pico Rivera, there is a wide selection of exquisite restaurants. From fast food to chain restaurants, there’s a wide variety to please your taste buds. But among many fine restaurants, there is one that stands out in the City that has been a fixture on Whittier Boulevard for seven decades - Clearman’s Steak ‘N Stein.
With only five restaurants in its portfolio that include the Galley in San Gabriel, North Woods Inn in La Mirada, Covina and San Gabriel, and Steak ‘N Stein in Pico Rivera, Clearman’s is famous in the eyes of those that frequent the restaurants.
Steak ‘N Stein was one of the first restaurants started by John Clearman. Founded in July of 1946, the restaurant is celebrating 70 years in the City of Pico Rivera. For those who have done the math, Steak ‘N Stein was founded 12 years before the City’s incorporation and has been in the same location on Whittier Boulevard since its founding.
Steak ‘N Stein offers a unique experience for anyone’s first time visit and consistently maintains its standard of excellence for regulars. Set to a cozy ambiance, the lights are dim for a very intimate setting, and the décor, personally selected by John Clearman, become conversational pieces among restaurant patrons. The interior is nothing like you would see in a modern day restaurant. With the use of heavy wood elements, natural stone, copper accents, and stained glass, the backdrop is reminiscent of an old school English tavern, according to long time employee and Regional Manager Jonathan Brennan. It is perhaps the only restaurant in Pico Rivera where one can enjoy a cocktail from the bar by a seasoned bartender while sitting alongside an open fire at the restaurant’s circular fire place.
Upon entering the restaurant, prepare to indulge in the rich ambiance as it offers a glimpse of the menu that food lovers come to experience. The menu is not merely a cluttered book of various options of food, rather it is tailored to your taste buds, yet a simple selection offering what has made Steak ‘N Stein the go-to-place for lunch or dinner.
The most popular items at Steak ‘N Stein are the 10 oz. Filet Mignon and the 20 oz. Bone-In Rib Eye, according to Brennan. Cooked to perfection over an open charcoal fire, these two selections are the most ordered at the restaurant. However, it doesn’t take away from the fact that no matter what one orders from the menu, be prepared for a culinary treat. The steaks are prepared with simplicity with the restaurant’s own blend of seasoning, which complements the natural flavor of the steak. The Filet Mignon is prepared in such a way that it’s the most tender piece of filet you won’t find anywhere else, proudly proclaims Brennan. Another item unique to Steak ‘N Stein is the famous cheese bread, offered throughout the Clearman’s chain. According to Brennan, it is one of the reasons why people visit Steak ‘N Stein to eat. It is also one of the most tried efforts to replicate among regular customers.
Many have returned and have expressed their disappointment in trying to duplicate the bread in the way Steak ‘N Stein prepares it. Despite the fact that Clearman’s sells the spread at local grocery markets, it’s a novelty item that can’t be replicated at home due to the way Clearman’s chefs uniquely prepare and bake the bread. Like many other restaurant specialties, there is a science to baking the perfect cheese bread. As for Steak ‘N Stein, many customers order extra bread just to take home. “It’s not your typical dinner roll or dinner bread”, exclaims Brennan, “it’s a specialty that many customers come here for.”
Food and service go hand in hand. If you have great food but poor service or vice versa, you won’t have a steady clientele. Steak ‘N Stein has that figured out. With dozens of positive reviews online and in print, the food, the service, and the atmosphere have people coming back time and time again. What keeps the food and service levels consistent? The years of dedication, loyalty, and service of the employees who work at Steak ‘N Stein. Many employees who work there have not just 10, but 20 plus years with Steak ‘N Stein. The Maître d’ for instance has been with the restaurant for 35 years and the main chef who carefully prepares the signature meat dishes has been with Steak ‘N Stein for 38 years. According to Brennan, a bartender and host recently retired after being with Steak ‘N Stein for 42 years. It’s that commitment to consistency that ensures that each customer who enters the doors of Steak ‘N Stein will be provided with the highest level of customer service, and the food will be prepared to the standards of Steak ‘N Stein and Clearman’s without any substitutes. Of course food and service are important and above all, it’s what keeps people coming back. In fact, the food has garnered the attention of celebrities who make frequent visits to the restaurant; one in particular is stand-up comedian Gabriel Iglesias who makes regular visits.
As time has gone by, the restaurant has made few modifications to adjust to the times. Live music has been added on Fridays and Saturdays, and closures on Mondays have been lifted, opening the restaurant seven days a week. The restaurant also hosts a variety of private events such as graduations, quinceañeras, and receptions in their banquet room. Reservations are also now available and can be made online.
While the restaurant adjusts to the needs of today’s consumer, there are things that are left untouched and for good reason. You step into this restaurant and it feels like a trip back to a simpler time. The illusion created by John Clearman has withstood the test of time and remains one of best restaurants in Pico Rivera and Southern California.