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.

19 Responses to The Highwayman

  • Michelle Riley says:

    Wow, my college roommate Jan and I practically lived at Yamato’s bar from summer 1983-1985 or so. We also had heard that Mick Jagger went there sometimes and always were on the lookout for him, but never saw him. Good memories. I remember we were irritated that President Reagan’s Secret Service team disallowed valet parking one night when the pres was staying at the Century Plaza Hotel. Someone who worked at Yamato’s told us there were snipers on the roof that night, just in case.

  • Linda says:

    I dated the sous chef from the highwayman and subsequently we shared our lives together. I worked at Silverwoods just across from the Highwayman entrance at the time we met. Very fond memories. Btw, his crab bisque was by far my favorite!

  • Fiona says:

    I googled a Swedish smorgasbord in Santa Monica in the 1970s and got to this page, where a couple of people seem to have mentioned it! I lived in Santa Monica until I was 5 and have a memory of being very excited to go here. In my memory, we went pretty frequently with my parents. So funny what sticks in your head!

  • Tony Escobar says:

    My dad worked at DJ’s in the late 60 early 70’s. I still have an original menu, ash tray and full book of matches. I also have a wine list that is signed by John Lennon.

  • Geoff says:

    I fondly remember my sister taking me to The Highwayman Restaurant in Century City for a birthday dinner probably between 1979 & 1980, was very impressed w/ my steak & the ambiance!

  • Maria says:

    I was going thru my business card file this afternoon and found the one for “Little Inn of Santa Monica, Swedish Smorgasbord, 406 Broadway, Santa Monica, Ca 90401 Phone, 394-7737. I looked it up and nothing found to match my card. I went to CSULA in the early 70’s and one of my professors took us all there for lunch. We had be in clinic at the Venice bch public health office.

  • Sharlene Lazin says:

    Steve Stuart – my dad, Johnny Lazin, was the chef at almost all Belaski’s restaurants in LA at various times, and opened his commissaries. He won the “Top Banana” Award one year for chefs in LA restaurants.

  • Sara Reyes says:

    Oh Yes! The Swedish Inn. My mom used to take me there when I was 4,5 & 6. I remember the carrot raisin salad, and the ability to get my own food. We wnt back around 1978 or so when I waas 8, and I thought about it today and found this. I also remember there was an upstairs, but not for patrons. Always wondered whzt was up there?

  • Carol says:

    Anybody know when Diamond Jim’s closed? Either or both locations?

  • Maria tafar says:

    Dan Leung, restaurant you are thinking of was Senor Pico….I also remember a couple of scenes from the wonderful movie El Norte where filmed there.

  • Dan Leung says:

    Does anyone remember a Mexican Restaurant in Century City (not in the shopping center) in the early 1970’s? I ate there one time with my high school Spanish class as our teacher was Mexican and introduced us to mole.

  • R. Lothridge says:

    Does anyone recall name of small Italian restsurant on La Cienega Blvd in the 1970’s. It was in a small house. Between Santa Monica/Melrose in west hollywood

  • Linda Blake says:

    By the way, the Hywayman restaurant didn’t close due to a lack of business. The mall wanted to tear down the building(which they did, and is now a food court) and wouldn’t renew the lease. The nightly gang moved to Yamato’s in the Century Plaza Hotel, where we hung out until the late 1980’s. My husband Gerry and I moved to Las Vegas in 1987 and lost track of many of the regulars. It was a landmark place in a landmark mall, and I will always miss it and the many friends we made there.

  • Linda Blake says:

    I worked in the mall starting in 1970. The century House was a classic dark restauarant favored by many in the neighborhood. The Hywayman was a fabulous steakhouse run by Alan and Louise Levine who owned a previous restauarant a in South Africa which was where Alan was from. Louise (née Serafini) was from Italy but grew up in South Africa also. They were very dear friends and ran a fabulous place with great steaks and daily dancing ( like the bar featured in the old Ally McBeal TV series) where workers from the towers came nightly. They moved to Portland and opened a new place there. Last heard from them in the late 1990’s. Will never forget the good times I had there

  • Pam says:

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

  • Tom Berkemeier says:

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

  • Bruce says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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