Delicious Details Found at Crow’s Nest

Photos by Charly SHELTON
Biscuits and gravy are prepared to showcase the specially ordered sausage


This week continues our series spotlighting hometown favorite restaurants adapting to the new normal way of life of COVID-19.

Crow’s Nest Sports Grille in Tujunga may look like a nautical themed restaurant from the outside and like a sports bar from the inside. Diners may still be attached to the biker bar reputation of The Steel Pit, which used to occupy this location before Art Miner took over and founded Crow’s Nest. But behind these misconceptions hide the truth of what Crow’s Nest really is – just a fantastic family restaurant.

The smoked bacon is a specialty item that Miner stocks and uses in the country gravy for chicken fried steaks, breakfast platters on its own, and on burgers and sandwiches where it pairs nicely with anything. Turkey roasted in-house stays light and delicious when cooked just right. And putting them together on a turkey club, served up in generous portions, is a fantastic sandwich.

“That’s a big thing I really want to emphasize – how much we’re really more of a restaurant than a sports bar,” Miner said. “But it’s hard to convince people when you’ve got 28 TVs and 48 beers; it’s like ‘How can you call yourselves a restaurant?’ But that really is our focus.”

Crow’s Nest is open daily.

Having been open for only six years, Crow’s Nest is a relative newcomer to the Crescenta Valley dining scene, yet it has already become a fast favorite among diners and it’s not hard to see why: Miner cares about his food.

“My motto is, we’ll do it better than anybody else,” he said.

And boy, is that right. From the sausages imported from Chicago to the dry-aged steaks from Nebraska that are cut in-house to the coffee that he personally selected from Kauai, Hawaii, Miner is very particular about what he serves in his restaurant. If a supplier is out of Miner’s chosen product, then it comes off the menu – he won’t serve lower quality substitutes for any reason. Despite the high quality of foods, the prices remain very affordable. This is what makes Crow’s Nest a favorite among so many diners – great food at great prices.

Crow’s Nest has a beer and wine license for alcohol service. This limits them to using only fermented products, nothing distilled like liquor. So Miner sourced some fermented-only vodka for the Bloody Mary. It is much lower proof than a distilled vodka, making it a much easier drinking experience than a common Bloody Mary.

In addition to being a contract engineer for the Navy for 30 years, food has been a hobby and a passion for Miner even before opening Crow’s Nest. He spent five years on Kauai where he deeply connected with the culture and the people. In that time, Miner travelled all over the island learning about the culture and, most importantly, the food. He brought this knowledge back to the mainland where he gives a taste of Hawaiian flavors – done the right way – to many of the dishes served at Crow’s Nest.

Kalua pig is a traditional dish served throughout Hawaii that was brought to the mainland and served in restaurants that try to mimic the flavors. But so many of these restaurants, even on the Big Island of Hawaii, try to cut corners for ease and cost – using steamers instead of banana leaves, for example, to cook the pork, using different seasonings to change the flavor – all tricks that Miner will not stoop to.

“I actually buy Hawaiian salt to coat (the pork) when we cook it because they say the iron oxide in the salt changes the flavor a little bit,” Miner said. “Then we stuff it with ginger and wrap it in banana leaves. The only thing that differs from what you would want to do is we use a liquid smoke as we don’t have a smoker, but everything else is as authentic as you could get it.”

Beyond the Hawaiian dishes, every dish on the menu is approached with the same level of care and attention as the Kalua pig. Miner brought CV Weekly out to try some of the favorite offerings from the menu and demonstrate how the restaurant is adapting to COVID-19.

Attention to every detail in every dish is a constant at Crow’s Nest. For example, its biscuits and gravy. Biscuits and gravy can be ordered at just about any decent breakfast place, and I usually do. All across the Southwest, Midwest, Northeast and all over SoCal, I’ve had just about every variation of the dish that can be imagined. I’ve even had biscuits and gravy from a Dairy Queen at a gas station in rural Arizona (don’t judge me). It’s usually about the same – a thick, dry biscuit with thick, gloppy gravy and sometimes chunks of what you hope is sausage. But nowhere have I had biscuits and gravy like the dish served at Crow’s Nest. No other sausage gravy I’ve had tastes like the sausage it was made with; however, when sausages are specially imported from Chicago one wants to taste the flavor … and Crow’s Nest delivers.

Miner said that initially he wanted to buy biscuits and gravy premade, as many restaurants do to save time and money, but he wasn’t happy with anything that was available on the market. So he decided it’d make his own. Fresh baked biscuits are made specifically to stand up to the house-made sausage gravy; they aren’t so soft they crumble under the weight of the gravy, yet they’re not too hearty so they remain light and fluffy. This attention to detail for a dish as commonplace as biscuits and gravy reflects the care Miner and his staff take in every dish found on the menu.

Crow’s Nest, 7279 Foothill Blvd. in Tujunga, is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. To see the menu, visit Al fresco dining is available on the two outdoor patios, and masks are required when not seated at a table.