Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dolores. "We never clos"

“You just go to diners?” the stranger at the party asked.
“Pretty much,” I replied. “I write reviews. Y’know, for the internets.”
“Have you been to Dolores? It’s awful!”

When someone tells me a place is awful, this is supposed put me off that place. Tell me that Mexican place on Sunset next to the barbershop is ‘for shit’, I’m not going to go—but tell me a diner is awful. It’s my job* to find out for myself.

Then the stranger added.
“Every waitress there is over 70.”

Is it creepy that it was THAT claim that sold me on HAVING to go as soon as possible to this place? Since Paul was present, I roped him into yet another diner adventure while he’d probably much rather be sleeping.

Dolores is on Santa Monica Blvd in that odd wasteland between West Hollywood and Santa Monica, the beachy place. I went through a Nuart theater phase and am shocked that I never ventured the simple four or so blocks west to the restaurant.

Pulling up to Dolores, I was instantly struck by the decrepit sign that towered above the place. This to me was a good (forgive me for saying) sign. The sign was so weathered I could believe no seventy year old waitress had been up there to spruce it up.

For this pic I offer special thanks to: http://www.latimemachines.com/new_page_3.htm

Walking inside I instantly fell in love. The homey décor mixes an odd sense of the 1970s with brown and golds with the pastels of the early 80s. After I instantly fell in love, I also instantly knew I had been lied to. Our greeter might have been rocking an outfit way too young for her but she was not a near octogenarian. We briefly breezed past display case full of giant pastries and muffins on our way to the booth. This booth gave us a great view of the counter and the nearby dessert cabinet. Delicious looking pies and cakes were found inside. Delicious cakes my friends! You know cakes aren’t my thing but these looked delicious.

The menu at Dolores is concise and simple. The largest extravagance I found is the cheese blintzes. Oddly, where you usually find a collection of Mexican dishes on an LA diner menu, Dolores has Italian choices. That’s how old school this place is.

Our waitress came by quickly and sweetly put up with my silly questions.

“What’s a ‘Cherry Lime Ricky’”
“It’s like a Shirley Temple. It’s really sweet.”
“What do you recommend?”
“What are you in the mood for?”
“Our omelets are good.”
“Do those come with bread? Like a muffin?”
“If I get the muffin, is it one of those giant muffins in the display case?”
“I’ll get that!”

I ordered the omelet with Parmesan cheese and Italian sausage. Paul ordered the eggs and bacon with a cinnamon roll. From my seat, I could lean back and stare longingly at the dessert case. Paul left to pee, which gave me more desert ogling time. He returned shortly and informed me of the old timey baseball game machine by the bathrooms.

By then, our food come out bursting out of the kitchen. The omelet was a little light on the Parmesan cheese but the Italian sausage was tasty. The egg of the omelet was perfect--not wet or sloppy but cooked evenly throughout. Unfortunately, Paul found his eggs runny, but liked the amount of bacon they gave him. The potatoes were thinly sliced and greasy. They did maintain a good potato flavor, though.

Our muffin and cinnamon bun were in fact-- HUGE. Too big, in my opinion. My blueberry muffin was too much like an oddly shaped piece of cake. The raisins in the cinnamon bun seemed as big as prunes. Paul and I working together couldn’t finish it. I did appreciate that the butter pats that they served had been warmed. For once, I could actually spread butter on my bread.

I had warned our waitress that I may indeed still order pie even with the muffin and cinnamon roll, so be sure to drop by before bringing the check. And like every other time that I have made this request, the waitress brought the check without stopping by. I had to get her attention to order a slice of apple to go. She then of course had to pick up our check and redo the whole thing. She did give me the largest slice of pie from the case though. That was sweet of her.

Later that evening I enjoyed the pie. The crust really weirded me out, I must say. It was perfect, I am not talking about in terms of taste but structurally perfect. Like this pie had come out of God’s own pie pan. Flavor-wise it was a perfectly good slice of apple pie.

Price: $6-$14
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Pie: Creams and Fruits.

11407 Santa Monica Blvd- At Purdue Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90025
310 477-1061

(*yes, this isn’t my job job-type job, but it should be.)

UPDATE-Feb 2009!

Dolores recently got a new owner. He invited me back to try out the new menu.
#1DC Antoinette and I took him up on the offer a few weekends ago.

There’s definitely a new coat of fancy on Delores. It has shifted away from the roughshod style that made it endearing. That’s no sin, just a little sad if you like the rundown aesthetic.

Being there for dinner, we decided upon classic dinner entrees. Antoinette ordered the Turkey Dinner and I ordered the Meatloaf.

We were both so incredibly impressed. The food was amazing. The turkey was nice and juicy thick cuts, the stuffing was made in a delicious chicken stock that gave it a uniquely home cooked taste. The meatloaf rivaled my mother's in its flavor and presentation. Rarely do you find the melted cheese in the center of the loaf. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had it anywhere other than at my mom’s house.

The corn bread was the best we had ever tasted. Amazingly soft and sweet, bordering on cake consistency, but staying safely within the bread family.

The new owner is definitely trying new things. He and his staff are exploring and innovating the standbys, and from what I can tell, it is successful. These things do take Delores away from its roots, but sometimes it's time to move on. So if you are looking for that old LA classic feeling, you can probably skip Delores now, but if you want a straight-up good dinner, you should definitely check out Delores. They still never clos.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Um, excuse me? "Stranger at the party"? That was no stranger. That was George Michael from Arrested Development.