I went to Birk's yesterday to meet a sales rep for a semiconductor equipment company. Situated at the base of an office building in a large commercial district, the clientele at Birk's is almost exclusively made up of those who use expense accounts to buy an overpriced lunch. I'd highly recommend their lemonade, though.
To start, I had the New England clam chowder, which was heavy with diced potatoes and light on clams. The bacon and touch of bell pepper added an interesting touch. I appreciated that the bowl came piping hot. My main course was the the pork chop, a Birk's specialty, as denoted by a box around this item on the menu. It came with cream of spinach, which was flavorful and didn't have the stringy texture of, say, this side dish at Boston Market. The mashed potatoes were average--so much so that I didn't even finish. The pork chop, unfortunately, was underdone. It's never easy to cook pork properly, as it's very unforgiving on either side of perfect doneness. Although the meat was bright pink and tight on the bone, I nevertheless took my chances and finished it. If I'd prepared this chop, I would have been very disappointed in myself. The lemonade, as I alluded to earlier, was the highlight of the lunch. They made it with freshly squeezed lemons.
Throughout the lunch I envied my counterpart's skirt steak, which I will order my next trip here. I really wished it was my wife on the other side of the table so that I could grab a bite. The steak came as a large, imposing folded ribbon of meat, which uncoiled would easily measure twelve inches. I was told the steak was great, but after having eaten only a quarter of it someone came to ask if he was finished. Even though my associate said several times he was not finished, the dish was still taken away--an enormous faux pas.
Despite yesterday's sub par chop and iffy service, it's easy to understand why Birk's remains a hot lunch spot despite the difficult economic environment. For those who want substantial entrees in an accessible location, the choices are few in Santa Clara outside of Birk's. And, to their credit, as many times as I've eaten at Birk's over the past ten years or so, they've never run out of any item on the menu. Moreover, their lemonade--whether straight or with raspberry--always hits the spot.
3955 Freedom Circle
Santa Clara, CA 95054