Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Chef's--Stick around, hang out, make friends.
Chef's is nestled in a half residential, half strip mall area of Arcadia. From that location alone, I could tell that this was a locals' place.
I feel like I'm using the term "locals' place" a lot lately and I should explain it. A "locals' place" is a place that isn't well-known and isn't in a heavy traffic area. You're only going to find out about if you go searching, or if you stumble upon it, or if you are a local and you see it everyday. Take a place that is well known like Dinah's or even House of Pies. Dinah's appears in movies and it's near the airport, while House of Pies is in Hollywood. Neither of these is really a "locals' place."
Although there's no cartoon chef at Chef's, the building is adorned by an amazing cast iron looking scene of a chef offering a platter of pancakes to a little boy and a dog.
What is it with diners and crane machines!?
The menu at Chef's had two full pages of breakfasts. There are a ton of options and everything was roughly seven dollars. The older couple next to me recommended the breakfast burrito. My waiter had some other recommendations for me. It was a group decision. I went with the corned beef hash breakfast. For my toast I asked for a biscuit and when I declined gravy (I was saving my calories for pie), my waiter was surprised but he rolled with it.
While I waited, a different waitress came by and made a comment to another patron about my scooter in the parking lot. I piped up and said it was mine and we talked for a few minutes about scooting and riding motorcycles. There were a lot of these side conversations going between diners and staff. That's a locals' place right there.
At the table in front of me sat two guys. One did the majority of the talking and all of his stories ended with someone praying to Jesus. They started off as reasonable "praying to Jesus" tales. "Someone tried breaking into her house and she and her kids started to praying to Jesus." and "the car flipped over and while I waited for the paramedics, I started to praying to Jesus." Eventually they got to be pretty mundane situations that also somehow ended up requiring prayers to Jesus. "It turns out they were Buddhists, so I started praying to Jesus." "I can't finish this breakfast burrito, I need to pray to Jesus."
When the waiter brought out my plate, it looked exactly as I had pictured it. I expected canned corned beef hash and a canned peach, and that's what I got. Everything tasted fine, although the biscuit was a little dry.
I sat for awhile and sipped coffee, taking some time to let the food settle. I actually wrote the better part of the Rod's Grill review while sitting at Chef's. My waiter returned regularly to check on me and refill my coffee. I felt very comfortable just hanging out at Chef's.
After a bit, I let my waiter know I was ready to be pied. I was informed that the pie of the month was Strawberry Cream and that they make all the pie in-house. House of Pies strawberry cream is pretty spectacular and you don't always see it offered at a restaurant, so I wanted to see how Chef's measured up. It was pretty good, but not as good as House of Pies. They did use fresh strawberries, but the cream wasn't as rich.
Chef's gets my recommendation more for atmosphere than food. Fake being a local and hang out there for awhile.
Pie: Various and homemade.
Chef's Coffee Shop
13 E. Live Oak Ave
Arcadia, CA 91006
In the Chef's restroom: