Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Twohey's--Home of the Stinko!

Moving into its 67th year, Twohey's is a San Gabriel Valley institution. Starting as a simple hamburger joint, it has grown into the massive family-style dining restaurant it is today. The cartoon figure with the tear drop and clothespin on the sign is a bit disconcerting if you don't know the story behind it (but you will by the end of this review). I didn't know the story the first time I saw the sign and it royally freaked me out. "What is wrong with Dan Castellenata? Did he just read the script for the next Simpson's movie?" Hey-ooo! #Longhangingfruit.

Since it shares a parking lot with the poster child for hideously over-hyped hamburgers--In-N-Out Burger-- parking at Twohey's can be a bit of a hassle. Twohey's looks like a building that put on an addition sometime in its lifetime, as it has basically two wings. A second dining room juts out to the side, making it a long 'L' shaped building. Perhaps the restaurant expanded and the parking lot did not?

The ample seating means that unless you arrive at peak dining times, you shouldn't have to wait for a table. And if you do arrive at the peak times, it shouldn't be that long of a wait.

If you do have to wait for a table, they provide you with free coffee. They also provide you with the eerie visage of a porcine chef carrying an end-times placard imploring you to "EAT MORE CHICKEN." I did wonder how unethical it would be if, after we were seated, I just kept going up to the front of the restaurant for coffee. My decision was that it was--IN FACT--unethical.

The walls of Twohey's are decorated in some downright fascinating collage work. There are also the usual bad restaurant paintings up in some places and a really perplexing maxi-print of a 5th grade class photo on one wall. The collage pieces feature actual antiques and, in a lot of cases ,give the year the item was made on a tiny placard next to the object. My antique dealer parents commented "There's a lot of money up on these walls."

Dolls are always creepy. Especially when pinned to the wall and watching you eat.

They may not have a plethora of pie (only apple) at Twohey's, but they really go all out with their other desserts. The display case at the front of the restaurant is filled with some outstanding looking cakes. Their chocolate chip cookies are large but still really soft and gooey. A full page of the menu is devoted to sundaes and soda fountain treats. They even sell their own brand of Hot Fudge.

It appears as though Twohey's has/had tried to do a bit of rebranding. Like James Cameron saw fit to chop "Terminator 2" down to just "T2" or how MC Hammer cut down "Too Legit, Too Legit To Quit" down to an overly complex series of hand gestures, Twohey's has "2EE's" on a lot of places and products. The above fudge for example.

And the posters advertising the imminent arrival of the "Live Maine Whole Lobsters." I understand that they may get tired of correcting people who pronounce it "two-heys" but the solution is not changing the name to "2EE's." Nobody is going to like that.

My first time in, I had to get the Stinko. I couldn't NOT order their signature dish. The Stinko, according to Twohey's legend, got its name from a female patron who upon smelling the pickle and onion-laden burger, responded with "Oh stink-o!" How charming! The onions make you cry and apparently pickles are smelly, hence the figure on the sign with the tear drop and clothespin holding closed his nose.

Truth be told, I am not a burger person. I rarely order them and when I do about half the time I regret it. This burger although rather unimpressive in size, was a pretty darn good burger stand burger. It was like how you hope the burgers at In-N-Out would be. It's not greasy. The bun is toasted and not just pressed onto a hot grill. The patty isn't too thick as to overwhelm the condiments. The pickles and onions make a great-- and in my opinion-- a not all that smelly combination.

#1DC Antoinette ordered the meatloaf sandwich. The meatloaf was really good. It was moist without being too wet. It was also very peppery. The homemade potato chips were only okay. It's hard to make them crunchy crunchy and their plate life is very short. Homemade chips just can't hold up over time. Soon they settle into sogginess.

On another visit, we brought my parents in for breakfast. I suspected they would love Twohey's and I was right. They actually went back later that day for dinner.

The Orange French Toast was pretty spectacular. The key was the orange zest in the batter. Some people think that using zest (the literal scrapings of the rind of a citrus fruit) is just a way of infusing pesticides into your food, but really the oils contained within bring a robust flavor to the dish. It is something of a culinary oddity that the part of the fruit we normally toss away has so much utility when it comes to cooking.

The pecan topping really didn't add anything to the dish. I would skip that addition unless you really like pecans. The french toast is fine as is.

My mom also ordered the Au Gratin potatoes and these were the first disappointing item we've had at Twohey's. They were mediocre.

I ordered the Roast Beef Hash. It included large tasty chunks of corned beef and roast beef. The eggs were simple but tasty.

My dad ordered the Center Cut Ham and Eggs. As always, he ordered his hash browns "extra, extra, extra crispy." The ham steaks were two nice sized cuts. The hash browns came out only "extra, extra" crispy but that was close enough for my dad.

#1DC Antoinette actually ordered off menu. She asked if she could just have scrambled eggs with diced ham. They accommodated her without any attitude, which is always nice. It's rare that a place won't do a special order (usually only chains will refuse because it throws off their stock tally for the bean-counters) but not every place is gracious about it.

With that whole page devoted to desserts. We had to order something. We got the Red Car Sundae. It was crazy good. Two scoops of ice cream in a chocolate coated waffle cone with generous helpings of strawberry sauce and marshmallow with a gang of whipped cream. It's no pie, but it was gooood.

Twohey's is by far my favorite place to eat in the greater Pasadena area. Its friendly staff, good food and cheery atmosphere makes for a excellent dining experience. I completely recommend it.
Food: Really good.
Service: Good.
Price: Reasonable, if not a little high.
Pie: Apple.

Twohey’s Restaurant
1224 N. Atlantic Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91801


Anonymous said...

Another diner you may want to try (if you haven't already) is bun 'n' burger on main st. alhambra. i think this diner opened around the same era as twohey's. lots on old newspaper clippings from the herald examiner and express and retro (junk or real?) stuff nailed to wall as well. i've only had their breakfast which was decent. but any food is good when you've just had some blood tests. my doctor is down the street on main. i'd be interested in dinerwood thinks. also the "3-D's" is a favorite show but eating all that diner grease may give guy the big heart ache.

Mike Tanner said...

Thanks anonymous. Bun and Burger is on the to-do list. I hear their weekend-only menudo soup is amazing. #1DC Antoinette and I may hit it next month (the Dinerwood docket it full for the next couple of weeks)