While we were at Ozzie's the other weekend, Tony recommended Arthur's as another great breakfast place. So last weekend when #1Diner Companion Antoinette and I were looking for a place to go to breakfast, I googled it. As it turns out it, Arthur's is only a few miles down the road from Ozzie's.
I was a little hesitant when I saw that they have a drive-through. That's a burger joint thing and I am not in the business of going to burger joints. "If we have to order at a counter, we're walking out," I informed Antoinette. I am snobby about my diner reviewing.
I was relieved when we walked inside. Thankfully, there was no back-lit sign that I had to crane my neck up to read. Chairs lined the counter rather than the counter having a line. Looking at it more closely, I think it had to have been a burger joint at some time in its history: the drive-through first of all, it's very cramped inside, and the kitchen is partially exposed.
A benefit of being in such a small space is that your waitress is never more than ten feet from you. Eating in such close proximity to everyone else also lets you in on their conversations. If it weren't for this, we wouldn't have known that Arthur himself (or Art, as his regulars call him) was there this morning chatting up the diners. He's a sweet looking old man with two hearing aids and flair for jokes. Dirty ones, I assumed, since he'd lean in close to give the punchline.
It's a pretty standard menu that covers the basics. There were two things that really stood out: the price, which I expected it to be a lot cheaper, and the lack of spell check used on the menu. It's like an Easter egg hunt spotting all the typos. "Squueesed."
They also have a fake or rather "exact duplicate" of an Orange Julius on the menu.
The is a weird thing worth noting--in small type at the bottom they tell you that they charge a fee for using your credit card. I had a sense of goodwill toward Arthur's because y'know, old man/dirty jokes, that's pretty cool--but this was borderline.
I'd reserve final judgement for the food. I ordered the french toast breakfast with polish sausage and a side of biscuits and bacon gravy (supposedly a house speciality). Antoinette ordered the turkey salad sandwich on raisin nut bread with a side of fries.
The turkey salad sandwich was exquisite. Quality chunks of white meat that wasn't drowned in mayonnaise. The toasted raisin bread was perfect. The french fries had an excellent crispy to potato flavor ratio.
The french toast and the eggs were nothing to crow about. They were decent--basically what you'd make at home. The polish sausage, however, was delicious. I did have sausage burps for the rest of the day-- but hey if you really like that flavor, it will stay with you.
The biscuits and gravy were very good. The gravy was smooth, not lumpy, and we could taste the bacon grease. That sounds kind of gross, but it really is good! The biscuits are small and dense. They bake them continuously and pop them straight from the oven and into a bucket. The waitresses come by and scoop them out and onto a plate.
Arthur's Restaurant was good. It had a cozy, familial atmosphere that we both really appreciated. The prices and the odd charge card fee practice were given context when Arthur (I can't call him Art, yet) was asked by a patron how business was doing. In that "greatest generation" way he sort of shrugged and talked about not losing money, not making money, only breaking even. Little places like this operate on the razor's edge and need the support of people who appreciate real, classic American food.
If that is not enough to entice you, there's always the prospect that Arthur might tell you a dirty joke or two.
Pie: No pie.
After I told Tony that we went to Arthur's for breakfast, he got really mad. "Dude why didn't you call? I live right by there. I would have met you."
"Sorry. Wait...don't live in Orange County?"
Apparently, there are TWO Arthur's. Art gets around!
Arthur's GREATEST FOOD IN TOWN
8813 Lakewood Blvd
Downey, CA 90240
And the other location-
Arthur's Coffee Shop GREATEST BREAKFAST IN TOWN
1281 E La Habra Blvd
La Habra, CA 90631
Apparently that wasn't the place Tony was talking about either. There is a THIRD Arthur's and this one is also located in the OC. However, the logo is different and the menu is much fancier. I expect it is not the same restaurant family... or is it? Perhaps there is a story there. Maybe this third restaurant is old Arthur's son's place. He wanted to take the diner dynasty in a new direction but Arthur clung to the old ways, the simpler way of a simpler time. They had a bitter falling out when Art Jr. ran off with the third Mrs. Arthur, a vivacious starlet who Art Sr. hoped would take care of him in his twilight years. The harlot and the ungrateful son had planned on the shock and heartbreak to be enough to kill Art Sr., but they knew nothing of the fire and vigor that rested in the old man's guts. He survived and now battles for the heart and soul of the Arthur's name.
Wow, this makes this so much more than a diner review and more like a Raymond Chandler novel.