For co-owner Robin Vanden Berg, it was high time for the Cerritos establishment known for its country-style fare to get acquainted with 21st-century tastes.
“[Off Street] hadn’t been made over in 20 years,” she said, noting that the restaurant had been around for nearly 25 years now. “Before, the decor was very country. All these walls were just bricks, the shelves had plates on it and we had a mural of wine country.”
Instead of going the traditional renovation route by themselves, she and co-owner Rose Viscio wrote to the producers of the Food Network program “Restaurant: Impossible” featuring celebrity chef Robert Irvine by answering a series of questions and an essay describing the basics of Off Street.
“We filled it out and then a day later the producer of ‘Restaurant: Impossible’ called us for a phone interview and flew in to visit us,” she said.
The result was a one-on-one interview with the producers of the show and they were selected as celebrity chef Robert Irvine’s latest project to renovate what the show calls “America’s most desperate restaurants.”
A one-and-a-half-day renovation turned the restaurant into something out of the French provincial countryside; the show’s interior designers largely painted over bricks that made up the walls in white, attached ceramic plates to the walls and created a livelier atmosphere for its patrons.
When the Off Street eatery at 11020 Artesia Blvd. in Cerritos reopened to the public last Friday, the new décor wasn’t the only thing that Food Network changed. Chef Irvine revamped the dinner menu, featuring more fresh food while still keeping its country, home-cooked influence that has attracted patrons for more than two decades.
Some country-style items like its fried pork chops remain, but they now share space on the menu with some more exotic choices like pork quesadillas on a tomato tortilla, salmon pasta made with agave cream sauce and fettuccini and Asian-inspired chicken kabobs.
However, the standout dish from the new dinner is arguably the fish and chips—with a twist. Chef Irvine took a traditional British staple and gave it a more Japanese flavor. He replaced batter with panko crumbs, which gives it a balanced, crispy taste. Even the chips had a makeover; Vanden Berg said that the fries are now freshly prepared with Yukon potatoes as opposed to fries coming from the freezer.
To add more icing to this scrumptious dinner selection, Off Street Café also offers a new deviation to the lowly cinnamon bun—the very tempting and very sweet cinna-souffle. Baked fresh and fluffy, the blonde caramel cream gives it the right sweet touch.
While Food Network stars may have changed the décor and added more contemporary items to the menu, Off Street Café is still a place in Cerritos that will still retain its community following and where you can still get a good, home style meal.
According to Vanden Berg, Off Street Cafe will be featured on "Restaurant: Impossible" in the Fall.
For more information about the restaurant, visit its website or call (562) 402-9665.