By November 13, 2022 0 Comments Read More →

FoodView – Burley’s California Bistro

By Chris Murphy & Steve Perry
Photos MJ Mangano

Raise your hand if you remember or have been to Mallards. Back in the 70’s & 80’s, Mallards was a game changer. At the corner of McHenry and Briggsmore, this upscale restaurant created by Dan Costa ushered a new level of culinary experience. Throughout the years, many food service workers learned how to do this and build businesses of their own. Many people ask me, what happened to Mallards and friends, I can tell you, that the closest thing we have is Burley’s on Carpenter Road.

Owned and operated by Kim Gaynor, daughter Daffani and Chef Mike Ortiz, this place is a find, and once you go, you will be a regular. You need to look for this as it set back from the street near Woodland and Carpenter. Once inside, you know you have found the right places. Kim and Mike both worked at Mallards. Kim on the food service and catering side, regularly catering places like the SOS Club, PSC, Gallo and many events and fundraisers. Following the closing of Mallards, Kim continued to cater events, but eventually needed a new kitchen. Mike Ortiz had been operating Toscana in Turlock and they both decided to build a place that could be both a catering kitchen and a full service restaurant and they literally built the place with their hands. They worked hard during Covid to get Burley’s ready, and the day that the purple rating was issued, allowing dining, they opened. They took the time during the pandemic to get things right.

Kim knew that she wanted to build this place on the West Side of Modesto where she was from. It was important to her that the west side have premium dining and more importantly, be a place where people feel comfortable. Mike knew exactly what he wanted to do and between them, and their Mallards experience, new what the menu should be.

To those that remember Mallards, you will be elated to see some of the favorites on the menu, like the Chicken (or Shrimp) Cavatappi ala Vodka with and the delicious Filet Mignon with the garlic whipped potatoes. One of the highlight dishes is the Whiskey Peppercorn sirloin with whipped potatoes with a whiskey cream sauce. These are just amazing staples you just can’t beat.

For those that are not familiar with the legendary dishes, they make an amazing Poki Bowl, and get this, the Almond Crusted Chicken Salad, with ricotta/honey champagne vinaigrette. One of our favorites is a Thai Steak and Noodle Salad, with mangos, sliced avocados, noodles and peanut dressing. Wow.

Chef Mike and Kim and Daffani are very focused on being true farm to fork. They literally have most of the area farmers delivering to them, whether it is Pluots & white nectarines from Zaigers, Almonds from Fisher Nut, or specialty cheese from Fiscalini. What’s more, you will regularly find these farmers eating at Burley’s.

Chef Mike explains, “one of the unique elements is that our sauces change as the fresh fruit seasons change”. They are just coming out of the apricot and nectarine season and the sauces now move toward apple and fall flavors. October and November feature so many amazing flavors in our area.

The new generation at Burley’s is lead by Kim’s daughter Daffani Ryan. She basically grew up in restaurants, and often wondered why so many of her friends were bartenders. The restaurant business is in her blood and she is sheparding in a new generation of first class food fans. She laughs that when some of the regulars come in, it takes about 20 minutes for them to make their way from the front door to the bar, where Kayla Rude will have a Martini ready. Daffani explains that the favorites from the Mallards days are still the favorites of today, and appetizers like the Calamari are the top sellers.

These are just a few of the tastes that you will experience. Coming soon is their amazing Butternut squash soup that we featured last year in the view. The bar list is amazing, Louis Martini is “on tap” and the Martini menu is flavorful and there is truly something for everyone in your group. Holiday reservations are being taken now and they have a 24 seat banquet room available for special occasions. I really hope to see you there and it will be worth your time and you will become a regular.

Burley’s California Bistro
1219 N Carpenter Rd Ste 5, Modesto, CA,
(209) 312-9400<>
M-F 11am-10 pm Sat 5-midnight Closed Sunday

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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.