The Highwayman

This one is so obscure that I don’t have any visual material to post and I can’t find a single mention of the place on the web. When the Century City shopping complex was opened in the mid-sixties, there was a restaurant situated on the main mall, right outside the Broadway department store. It was called the Century House and it was nothing special…a decent place to grab a bite if you were shopping over there but that’s about it. I remember very little about the place and would have forgotten it completely except for what replaced it. (You can see the exterior of the Century House briefly in the 1967 movie, A Guide for the Married Man starring Walter Matthau and Robert Morse. In fact, you can see a number of well-remembered but gone locations in L.A. in that movie including a scene set in Kiddieland, the place over at La Cienega and Beverly that was always filled with divorced fathers taking their kids out for a day.)

Around 1978 (that’s a guess), the Century House closed and its building was taken over by a terrific steakhouse called The Highwayman. It was the work of an Australian restaurateur who had an amazing way of cooking ribeye steaks with some sort of au jus liquid that I loved. But what were really amazing at the Highwayman were the soups. They changed every day and I remember dining there one night with a date, having a Shrimp Bisque and thinking I’d just found the best soup on the planet. I hurried back there with a friend a few days later, raving about the Shrimp Bisque. “I hope you have it tonight,” I said to our server. He said, “I’m sorry but tonight, the chef felt like making Salmon Bisque instead. But I think it’s even better than the Shrimp Bisque.” I said something like, “Nothing could be better than that Shrimp Bisque but let’s give it a try.” As it turned out, he was right. Even better.

I went there often for less than a year and increasingly, the host acted thrilled to see me walk in with my party…because a lot of people weren’t doing that. Apparently, the rent there on the Century City Mall was astronomical and business just wasn’t good enough to overcome it. One afternoon, after touting the place to several friends I planned to take there that evening, I called for reservations and a brusque voice said, “Sorry, we’re out of business” and hung up. I hoped they’d reopen somewhere else but it never happened…and that’s all I know about the Highwayman. I wish I knew more about it. I’d settle for the recipe to that Salmon Bisque.

5 Responses to The Highwayman

  • Steve Stuart says:

    Funny, I don’t remember the transition from the Century House to the Highwayman, but am fairly confident the Century House was built and operated by Joe Belaski (sp-?), who also built/operated the Beverly Hillcrest Hotel (Pico & Beverwil – now Mr. C). When it was the Beverly Hillcrest, there were two restaurants from which to choose: the “Top of the Hillcrest” restaurant – accessible from either the interior elevators – or – the exterior, glass elevator-! And downstairs there was the Portofino Room.

    Additionally, Joe also ran Diamond Jim’s Steakhouse. Forget all the loactions of DJ’s, but there was one on Wilshire in the Barrington Plaza “spread”; and another location at 6753 Hollywood Bl. And am fairly certain he ran other properties in the 50’s-70’s.

  • Patty Price-Yates says:

    Does anybody remember a little Swedish Smorgasbord in Santa Monica…just east of the old ‘Santa Monica Mall’ ~ located on the south side of the street? I cannot recall the name of this restaurant for the life of me. We went there in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

  • Bruce says:

    I remember a “Viking’s Table” on the south side of Pico in Westwood. Could they have had more than one branch?

  • Tom Berkemeier says:

    Yes, just east of 4th on Broadway. Maybe ??The Swedish Inn??

  • Pam says:

    The Century House is also featured in a 1966 Doris Day movie called Caprice.

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