Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dandi's Family Restaurant - Fine and dandy--mostly just fine. (closed)

As far as we knew, Dandi's Family Restaurant was a brand new diner, but by doing a little bit of hunting on the web, I found that it was in different location which closed some time ago. They just reopened a few months ago, not too far from the original location.

#1DW Antoinette noticed it while driving by one night; she was really excited because she never gets to find new places. When she does think she has found a new place, it more often than not is already on the master list. It was a great personal victory for her that I had never heard of this place before.

It took us awhile to make it there even though it is just a few miles from our house. We came in for breakfast.

The front windows and walls of the small storefront building are littered with signs advertising specials; rib-eye steak dinners for $8.95, waffles and "free caffee." I always wonder about where places get these signs and if those places just vehemently adhere to the "the customer is always right" or just don't care...or just don't know? Same can be said for menu printers.

Inside, it is kind of mess of design. They clearly bought new tables for the new location but they look too new, too modern for a diner. Two large flat screen TVs mirror each other on either side of the dining room. The walls have Rockwell prints, Rosie the Riveter and bucolic thrift-store paintings. It might be terrible to say--but this being an Asian diner, I think they just thought "Americans like this stuff, right?" and called it a day.

There's also a stand up fridge in the middle of the dining room. I have to assume outlet placement in the building and kitchen space issues necessitated this, but it's still odd.

The first thing you will notice about Dandi's once you sit down is that the service is phenomenal. The staff are all friendly and attentive. If you get coffee (and you should, because it's really good) someone will be by every few minutes to see if you need a refill. They are on it like no other place I've seen.

The menu at Dandi's is pretty typical. It covers way more than it needs to with numerous items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As I said above, this is an Asian-run diner, so there's a hodge podge of fried rice and other Chinese dishes mixed in. There didn't seem to be any signature item that I had to try, so I just went with something that would give me a good idea of what they can do.

I ordered the country breakfast; biscuits and gravy, sausage, potatoes and eggs. The home fries needed to be a little crispier. The gravy was good but not great, I like white gravy to be more peppery. The eggs and the biscuit and sausage (it's hiding under the gravy) were also decent.

Antoinette ordered the #5; O'Brien potatoes scrambled with two eggs with toast and jam. It would have been pretty great except it was lacking one thing--meat. Ham or bacon mixed in would have kicked it up a notch. I'm sure if you ordered a side of meat and asked them to mix it in, they would.

Despite the dining room being so odd with the furniture and decor and TVs talking to each other, it really is comfortable and homey in Dandi's. Even though the food wasn't anything special, we really wanted to come back.

A few days later we decided to head there for dinner. The sign in the window said they closed at 9pm so we drove up about 8pm...and they were closed. That was rather upsetting. A few days after that decided to try it for an early dinner--a REALLY early dinner. We got there before 5pm. Luckily, they were open.

I got the pork chop dinner and Antoinette got the turkey dinner. They were about what we expected, not great, not bad--just okay. The service and the coffee were again exceptional.

At this point, we're going for the service and the coffee. On our next trip there, we are trying sandwiches. I'll be sure to update when we do.

Food: Okay.
Service: Excellent.
Price: $5.95-$10.95
Pie: Yes

Dandi's Family Restaurant
533 S. Del Mar Blvd
San Gabriel, Ca 91776

UPDATE- Dandi's closed some time ago and is now a Thai restaurant

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Jack's Whittier Restaurant -- Whoopee!

I saw the sign originally while trolling photo websites for "googie" tags. I never even noticed it on, but it's there.

Real-life journalist David Allen and I met for breakfast a few weekends ago. I got there about ten minutes early and put my name on the list. I figured there would be a little bit of a wait, but there were only two parties ahead of us, so it shouldn't have been too bad.

It took about fifteen minutes to be seated. Not the restaurants fault, though. Nobody was leaving! Everyone was just sitting there talking and relaxing, while a half-dozen of us just stood in the ever crampening foyer. David soon arrived and we took some notes on our surroundings as we had nothing better to do.

Along with a crane machine (not pictured due to the number of children in front of it--I think there's a law about taking pictures of children. If there isn't, there maybe should be), there was also this toy novelty dispenser. Whoopee cushions? This has got to be the fart-iest restaurant ever.

There's also this sign advertising a DVD interview with the "Oldest Man In Whittier." Or rather this is included as a DVD extra on one called "Early Whittier." I googled this video and found more information on it. The old man is Monte Wicker AND HE'S NOT EVEN THE OLDEST MAN IN WHITTIER! What the hecks! He's just the oldest guy they could find who remembered anything slightly interesting. This is Whittier, it's not like there was much to remember in the first place.

Finally, we were seated. I started out with some coffee (it was decent) while we looked over the menu. There didn't seem to be anything too exciting or out of the ordinary. It was a varied menu that covered the basics. I saw that they offered a loyalty rewards program and when you signed up for it you got a free slice of pie. I immediately asked our waitress how to sign up. I was dismayed when I realized later that I wouldn't get the free pie then--I'd be emailed a coupon later. Bogus.

Apparently they used to have a "at your table" toaster feature, but we saw no sign of it on our side of the restaurant.

David ordered the corned beef hash breakfast. It was a pretty standard "canned" style corned beef. The potatoes were a bit oily for my taste. They should have been crisper.

I was craving a waffle so I ordered their waffle breakfast combo. The waffle itself was interesting; it was perfectly smooth, save for the edging. It tasted like any other perfectly adequate waffle but the smoothness was fascinating. My eggs were slightly overcooked. The bacon was actually pretty good, I'll give them that.

I can't really recommend Jack's Whittier Restaurant. Only the exterior really holds the old school coffee shop aesthetic, so there's no nostalgia trip to be had. The food was uninspiring. The service was only okay.

I finally got my coupon for my free pie, but I don't think I'll use it.

Food: Adequate
Price: $7-$10
Service: Okay
Pie: Yes.

Jack's Whittier Restaurant
13221 Whittier Blvd
Whittier, CA 90602