PICTURED: Jalapeno and pepperjack-crusted pork chop. Photo by Mike Nelson

Holdren’s Steaks and Seafood
1714-A Newbury Road, Newbury Park
805-498-1314
holdrens.com
$4-$107

Who goes to a steakhouse for the pork chops? Or the fish? Guess.

Yes, I like good steak, too, and Holdren’s Steaks and Seafood in Newbury Park offers an enticing assortment of sirloins, filet mignons, ribeyes, porterhouses and more that keep steakhounds coming back.

But my go-to entree at this popular dining room is the pork chop — specifically, the thick, grilled-to-order jalapeno and pepperjack-crusted pork chop ($27), covered in a zingy but not overpowering brandy peppercorn sauce (a sauce good enough to order by itself, come to think of it). Add a sprig of rosemary, a healthy serving of grilled vegetables and a simple but fresh green salad to start, and I am happy, happy.

I’ve ordered the “JPC” probably every other time we’ve visited Holdren’s, which has been fairly regularly in recent years. Besides the food, Holdren’s is one of an all-too-few number of restaurants that does not overwhelm you with bright lights, loud music and a wait staff less interested in serving you than with getting you in and out ASAP so the next tip-payers can be seated.

Rather, Holdren’s keeps the lights low, the music (ranging from oldies rock to pop standards) in the background, the TV volume off and the service attentive but not rushed. And don’t be surprised if the staff greets you on your next visit with a hearty, “Welcome back.”

Caprese salad. Photo by Mike Nelson

On our most recent trip, waiter Steven, who’d served us several times before but was busy serving others this evening, came by to greet us with a smile, a “Great to see you again,” a “Happy Birthday” for my wife, and a reminder to let him know if there was anything else we needed. (Not that Scott, our more-than-competent waiter for the evening, needed any help.)

But the bottom line is the food, and at Holdren’s, it’s all good, and served piping hot. Having mentioned one pork chop, I will mention two more: the mesquite-grilled, center cut chops that come in a pair ($34), seasoned with rosemary and entirely too much for one person of average appetite to finish. So order one ($24), which is quite filling, or both and take one home.

Another favorite, especially of our son, is the macadamia-crusted halibut with blood orange buerre blanc ($29). The sauce, like the peppercorn, is tempting enough to order by itself — but then you’d be missing the tasty, perfectly grilled fish. 

Also tempting are the herb chicken topped with gorgonzola cream sauce ($26), an array of fish and seafood and, of course, steaks like the cowboy cut ($55), a 24-ounce bone-in ribeye served with jalapeno and onion rings which would feed our family nicely for a week. Most entrees come with salad or soup (I recommend tomato bisque or mushroom) and choice of one side including mixed vegetables, rice pilaf and assorted potatoes (baked, scalloped, garlic mashed or french fried).

Appetizers are highlighted by a Caprese tower, thick slices of buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomatos topped with fresh basil and pesto and drizzled with balsamic vinegar; and steak bites served on rice with blue cheese sauce for dipping (potentially an entrée in itself). For dessert, we’ve enjoyed “Mudd” pie, s’mores that are self-assembled at the table, and the sampler ($14)

“Mudd” pie. Photo by Mike Nelson

with slices of chocolate flourless cake, peanut butter pie and New York cheesecake — all good options for sharing.

Located off the 101 near Courtyard by Marriott, Holdren’s is also open for lunch (primarily sandwiches, wraps and salads) and offers daily specials and happy hour plus an extensive wine and cocktail menu (heavier than the dinner menu, to give you an idea). Patio seating is available, and the indoor dining area has a separate room for large gatherings or for those who’d rather not watch sports on the TVs above the bar.

And really, who needs the Lakers when you’ve got the best pork chops in town in front of you?