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Saturday, Nov 24 2012 12:46 PM

Dining Divas: Petroleum Club of Bakersfield (video)

By Dining Divas

The Bakersfield Life staff promised us Divas a special dinner for our final review of the year, and they certainly kept their word. We gals got all gussied up and headed to the Petroleum Club of Bakersfield, a private business and social club on the 12th floor of the Stockdale Tower.

We were treated to a beautiful view of the city from the wine room, which can be reserved by club members for special occasions. We took our seats at the elegant table and felt like we were dining with the gods as we overlooked the dazzling city lights below.

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Not only was the ambiance special, but executive chef Robert Alimirzaie also made us feel like royalty. Robert trained as a chef in Hamburg, Germany, and has worked at several Orange County restaurants. He landed at the Petroleum Club in 2004 and said that aside from the heat, he has grown to love this town.

Not only did Robert come out before each course to explain what we were sampling, but our waiter John "Coop" Cooper pampered us with water refills and excellent service. The Petroleum Club menu changes twice a year, and we were given a sneak peek at the fall menu, which was just about to make its debut for the year.

To begin the evening, we were treated to a couple of very special appetizers.

Molly on the cheese plate: Cheese happens to be one of my favorite things, so I was very excited to enjoy what chef Robert had created for us. We had several different types of cheeses accompanied with seasonal fresh fruit. This included fresh strawberries stuffed with Boursin -- a cheese similar in taste and texture to cream cheese. I wouldn't normally pair grapes with cheddar, but I must say that this chef knows what he's doing when it comes to matching cheese with fruit. It was excellent! Another delicious pairing was the dates stuffed with Cambozola -- a blue Brie. The final pairing was pears covered with chocolate ganache and topped with Stilton cheese -- an English cheese known for its strong smell and taste. The sweet pear and chocolate toned down the pungent taste a bit, which made for a wonderful combination.

Amanda on the seared shrimp and scallops: Chef Robert had my mouth watering even before presenting us with this appetizer. The thought of pan-seared shrimp and scallops sauteed with Robert's two favorite girlfriends -- Brandy and Sherry -- served with a citrus pesto and mango mint sauce sounded beyond amazing. All of my anticipation was right on target when I tasted this scrumptious appetizer. The scallops melted in my mouth, and the shrimp was perfectly cooked. I even dipped my bread into the leftover pesto sauce because I absolutely loved it!

We just knew the main course would be something special ...

Katie on the flat iron steak: If you've made a point of carefully reading each and every Divas' review, you know that I love shrimp. But I also love a good steak, and here it was. This was a fantastic steak that was cooked to perfection (a true medium rare) and served with risotto and broccoli with a peppercorn sauce. To say it was good just doesn't do it justice. Another unique part of the meal for me was the orchids. Yes, I said orchids, as in flowers. I don't make a habit of eating bouquets, but I thought I would give it a shot. And, as anyone who knows me knows that I like salt. So, of course, I salted my orchid. It was so yummy!

Tammara on the grilled adobo salmon: I am a fish lover, and by luck of the serve, I was given the salmon. Each flaky piece was moist and tasty with just the right amount of seasoning. Topping the salmon was an avocado salsa with marinated cucumbers and bell peppers lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic. Tender broccoli and a herb Basmati white rice rounded out the dish.

Lisa on the Hawaiian reef bass with lobster ravioli: Since I don't eat red meat, Robert whipped up this special dish for me. And it was definitely special. The bass was delicate, tender and moist. The lobster ravioli, which is a knuckle claw filled with ravioli, was excellent. These generously filled pasta rounds were amazing, and I loved the lobster bisque sauce on top of the dish. It was delightful and not too heavy.

Molly on the roasted duck breast: I was very happy to be served this dish for my main course, as I am a huge fan of duck. It was very tender, topped with a black cherry sauce, which added just the right amount of sweetness. It was served with seasonal veggies and English pea risotto, which also happens to be one of my favorite side dishes.

Amanda on the grilled rack of lamb: The rack of lamb was flavored with North African spices and served with a mango mint coulis, basmati rice and broccoli. Lamb is not an item I would typically order, but since chef Robert served it to me, I knew it had to be good. And yes, it was very good. The flavors were delicious.

As we let our food settle, we looked forward to the final phase of our meal -- dessert.

Lisa on the creme brulee and blueberry cobbler: When ordering dessert, I always ask the waiter if they make their desserts in house. Many times the answer is no. But at the Petroleum Club, chef Robert personally makes every single sweet creation. I was served two desserts. Creme brulee is one of my favorites and this one didn't let me down. It was made with real cream, as opposed to custard. As for the blueberry cobbler, the crust on top was warm and flaky and topped with gooey delicious blueberries and homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

Tammara on the lemon curd forest berry cheesecake: This cheesecake was phenomenal. It featured a light cheesecake with a raspberry topping and a final topping of lemon curd and whipped cream. The graham cracker crust was moist, but not soggy.

Molly on the baked Alaska flambe: The menu describes this dessert as "simply wonderful" -- and it was! Served in an individual size, the amount was perfect for one person. It had Neapolitan ice cream in the center, which was different because most baked Alaska is served with vanilla ice cream. I must say that it was a very pleasant surprise.

Amanda on the chocolate lava cake: I was the winner when it came to dessert choices for the evening. The chocolate lava cake is the most popular dessert at the Petroleum Club, and now I know why. This small cake is packed with so much flavor that it's best you share it with a friend. It was warm, smooth and literally melted in my mouth. The chef adds a melted chocolate truffle to the inside, so that it oozes out when you cut into the cake. It was very rich, but the homemade vanilla bean ice cream on the side toned down the richness.

Katie on the overall dining experience: The Petroleum Club, is a members-only club celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, but chef Robert assures us that the price to join is much less than what you may expect. And the benefits of membership go far beyond just being able to dine on the 12th floor. Members have rights at the exclusive bar and are able to request special menu items in the case of dietary restrictions or dieting. With nearly 900 members, chef Robert considers himself to have 900 bosses.

If you've thought of joining the Petroleum Club, you can call ahead for a guest pass. Also, the club serves breakfast every morning to members and nonmembers alike for just $4.

As we 2012 Divas deliver our final review, we are thankful that we were given the opportunity to sample some amazing Bakersfield food over the past 12 months. We not only met some wonderful restaurant owners, waiters and waitresses and other folks along the way, but we also got to know one another.

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