Monday, June 29, 2009

The Horseless Carriage: Buy a car, get some pie...or not.

The American auto industry has been in the news a lot lately. For once, a diner review is somewhat topical. The Horseless Carriage Restaurant is a unique type of diner. It's unique because it is in a car dealership--the Galpin Ford car dealership in North Hills, right next to the 405, in the heart of the Valley.

Yes. A car dealership's own diner. It opened in-well, why should I tell the story? Let's let Mister Galpin tell it.

For a closer look at the pic, click here.

For this visit, I brought #1Diner Companion Antoinette, #1Diner Photog Charlie, and #1Gwen Stefani Fan Cammie. Cammie grew up in the area and her parents always bought their cars from Galpin. The salesmen would give the kids tokens to take to the restaurant to exchange for sodas. Only one salesmen still does that, Stuart Sank, according to our waitress, and you should totally buy your car from him because of this.

One thing we noticed about the Horseless Carriage was that the interior was immaculately clean. The stainless steel and faux-deco fixtures gleamed and sparkled in the summer twilight. This was, hands-down, the cleanest diner I have ever visited.

We started with coffee even though it was 7pm on a Sunday. I wasn't expecting much and was pleasantly surprised at how good the coffee was. So far we were off to a good start.

Looking at the menu, I noted that it covered a lot of the basics but wasn't overwhelming. There was just enough of every category to give some variety but without any 'wastes.' I feel like a lot of restaurants have 'wastes' on the menu--dishes that you just can't imagine anyone actually the salmon at House of Pies.

Cammie ordered the Cobb salad. Which looks absolutely beautiful in that picture and tasted just as good.

Cammie also ordered a side of biscuits and gravy for the table, just to try it out. The biscuit was good--not great, and the gravy was a little watery.

Antoinette ordered the Sourdough Special and cup of french onion soup, but they were out of soup, so she just got the sandwich. The sourdough special is basically the beefeater at House of Pies or a beef melt at other places. It's roast beef, tomatoes and cheese melted on sourdough. It was good, but not as good as other versions of it that we've had.

Charlie and I both went with the reuben. It started out alright, although it was a little dry. Charlie had the wherewithal to order sides of thousand island dressing. Once we were able to really slather them with sauce, the enjoyability of the sandwich went up considerably.

We all ordered desert, well three deserts for four people. #1DC and I were going to split the pumpkin pie, which was the only pie they had left that day. Cammie ordered the cheesecake and Charlie ordered the strawberry cake. Charlie was the winner. The cake was especially pretty and delightfully sweet. It could have been a little fluffier, but was good overall. The cheesecake was decent but unspectacular. Our pumpkin pie was, well--it was a piece of pie that tasted like pumpkin, but not pumpkin pie. There seemed to be no nutmeg, no cinnamon, no spices. It just tasted like mashed up, kind of burnt, kind of soggy pumpkin on a pie crust.

In addition to the pies and cakes, they have something called the "Galpiccino." This consists of coffee ice cream, mocha powder and milk, blended with ice and topped with whipped cream. Just for the name it deserves to be ordered...just not by us... at least this time. And of course they had jello and whipped cream. How could they not?

With only a few minor bumps along the way, from the coffee all the way through to the end, it was well worth the drive. The only truly disappointing part was the pie. Even forgetting that it is probably second only to the Police Academy diner as far as unique locations goes, I can truly recommend the Horseless Carriage for a great experience.

Food: Good.
Service: Very friendly and helpful.
Price: $6-$11 with dinner entrees being a tad more.
Pie: Various cream pies, fruit and pumpkin. Stay away from pumpkin.

15505 Roscoe Blvd
North Hills, CA 91343-6503
(818) 892-3707‎

Again, special thanks to Charlie Chu for his great photography. He is available for weddings, bat mitzvahs and celebrity funerals.

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