Monday, December 17, 2007

On the Road: Seattle's Diner- Roxy's

And then disaster struck: Okay readers, it has been a long time. I'm dealing with a busy work schedule, moving AND my hard drive crashing, so a load of Dinerwood goodies (half-written articles and a ton of pictures) have been lost.

So let's get through what we can as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Think of this as a vignette of a review.

Roxy's was a place I had heard of while I lived in Seattle. I have no idea why I never went there. I missed out.

Roxy's is probably the most "Seattle" of any diner you can find in the Emerald City. It's a mix of free-spirited whimsy and old home traditions. Bright murals decorate the walls and veggie and kosher option pepper the menu as well as meals promising "hunks" of meat.

As evidenced by the sign it sets out to blend East and West Coast diner life together. What other place can list Biscuits and Gravy right below Matzoh Brie?

I got the Pumpkin Pancakes and a Salt Bagel. Sandy, my old housemate and dining companion got the Latkes and an Asiago Bagel. It might have been the other way around but we shared so it doesn't really matter, does it?

The food was delicious. I was surprised at how well I liked the pancakes. It was the special that day so I figured I should go for it. the latke were also good. I like mine a bit grainy and not to smooth. Too smooth makes me think too much about mashed potatos and I usually pass on the mashed potatos.

Food- Good.
Service- Seattle lax. Just lazy enough to annoy but not bad enough to really care.
Price- $6-14
Pie- Cheesecake, of course.

462 N. 36th St.
Seattle Wa
I shit you not, that's the website.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Back in LA: Astro Family Restaurant and Coffee Shop- It's not out of this world. HA. Ha. ha.

Back in Los Angeles with a quick review.

To Los Angeles residents Astro Burgers are a mainstay of our homegrown fast food chains. Not as beloved as the over-hyped In-n-Out Burger or name-checked by rappers as much as Fatburger, it is probably #4 right behind the famous Tommy's.

I had no idea that Astro had branched out into the Coffee Shop/Family restaurant world. Taking an unfamiliar route to the Doll Factory one day before practice (I'm a roller derby referee in my other-other life), I found this place.

It's not like it's hidden away; it is right off a main street in Silver Lake, just a street I never need to take anywhere. After maneuvering into the parking lot, which can be a hassle with traffic and one way streets, I found a great parking spot right behind the building. Not knowing which side the entrance was on, I took a chance and chose left. I chose poorly. I ended up having to walk around to the complete opposite of the building.

The decor inside was a wonderful wash of 70's kitsch with oranges and browns and other ugly design choices. It oddly reminded me of the house I grew up in.

What is with turquoise seat covers? I swear, 7 out of 10 of the places I go have these. Harry's Family Restaurant did, Dolly's in Spokane did, and now this place. Turquoise and orange and brown don't seem like they go together. Then again what do I know? #1DC Antoinette thinks my green sweater and milk chocolate colored slacks make me look like an Andes Mint, and I think my socks should match my shirt not my shoes.

The menu was hard to chose from, not because it all sounded so good but rather it all sounded so mediocre and even boring. Even Denny's or an IHOP can pull off a surprising menu item. Rootie Tootie Fresh and Fruity anyone? It sounds like something you should order regardless of taste.

The menu was also shockingly expensive and lacked any sort of combination to make a full meal without popping over to the double digits.

I ordered the pancakes. I was so unimpressed by them that I nearly forgot to take a picture until I was finished.

The coffee was especially weak. It tasted like coffee that had been made from the grounds that had been run through the machines twice already.

The only positive thing I can say is that they have a massive orange juicer at the front of the restaurant that looks wicked industrial.

They also offer a patio for outside dining. Cancer up, my smoking friends.

Sitting at the booth in front of mine were two cops. They were talking about getting drunk and riding their bikes home from parties. After all, they are smart enough to know not to drink and drive...bikes must be okay then.

Food: Meh. I just got the pancakes.
Service: She was good until it came time to get my check.
Price- 8-15
Pie: Yes

2300 Fletcher Drive
Los Angeles, CA
Their Website

UPDATE- 11/19/2010
I've been back to Astro a few times since this review and I have softened on the food a bit. It's okay, but still too pricey for what you get quantity and quality-wise.

I also have never been in there where there wasn't a table of cops also eating. I think I've seen more LAPD here than when I ate at the diner at the police academy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

On the Road: Olympia's Black Bear Diner.

Okay, I know I said I'd return to Los Angeles to do a quick review of another Dinerwood home base place, but I'm having some issues with pictures right now. Therefore, we shall continue on our Northwest adventure for a just a bit longer.

I went to college in Olympia, Washington. I lived there for four years and for several years afterward, I made nearly weekly return trips there to perform with my improv troupe.

The location that is now the Black Bear Diner used to be a Coco's. A Coco's I had never once visited. I don't think I had ever actually eaten at a Coco's until I went to Japan. Yes, Japan, but that's a story for another time....

If you've never been to a Black Bear Diner, you are really missing out. It's a chain of diners in the greater Northwest that is not run like a chain. The first one I ate at was, I believe, in Bend, Oregon. The menu stated that each Black Bear Diner prepares things a little differently so don't go expecting the same thing at another Black Bear somewhere else.

Black Bear Diners are going for a rustic atmosphere. In fact, if it weren't for the fact they call themselves a "Diner," I might dismiss it for just the surface elements. It's nice. It's cozy. It feels like know, if you lived in a restaurant.

Part of this homey-ness is that the menu is presented to you like a newspaper. The place mat gives you the history of the chain and its establishment in 1969.

On this day, I was treated to just how unchain-like a Black Bear Diner can be. The heater was broken in the restaurant and it was getting quite a bit chilly in there. I heard someone order a fresh squeezed orange juice and be informed that the juicer was broken and they only had regular juice. When it came my time to order, I was debating between the Beary Crunch French Toast or the Praline Pecan Sauce French Toast. I asked my waitress which one was better. She replied "We don't have any pecans so you have to get the crunchy." Yes, she said I "HAD" to. I wasn't going to argue. She clearly knew her stuff.

"What makes it crunchy?" Don't get ahead of yourself, Turbo. Let me first add that these are three slices of sourdough bread, battered and then rolled in crushed cornflakes. My god! This was delicious. It's probably one of my favorite things that I'd had on this entire trip.

Food: Great.

Price: 6-11

Service: Friendly.

Pie: Technically no, but look at all this cobbler!

PS- the menu does suffer from a little too much "bear" cuteness, like my Beary Crunchy French Toast or the Beary Nice to Meet You Eggs Benedict (okay I made that one up).

955 Black Lake Blvd SW

Olympia, WA 98502

(360) 352-1219

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On the Road: Spokane's Diners Pt. 5- Hogan's. Nostalgia and broken glasses.

One of the first questions I asked when I found out we'd be going to my old neighborhood in Spokane was if Hogan's was still open. Hogan's was the closest thing to a Peach Pit or The Max my high school friends and I had. Well, that's not true; we hung out more at Senor Froggy's and Baskin Robbins, but that was because half of us worked at one of those places. Hogan's was special, though. It was our kitsch.

Various groupings of us would head there after school on Friday and get Green River sodas and an order of french fries with a side of hollandaise sauce. And without fail, every time we were there, we'd hear the shattering of a glass. Someone in the back had butter fingers. Jon said that even the last time he was there a few months prior, a glass had broken. Could the streak still be alive?

Bill, Jon and I went to the grand old spot in the South Hill Shopping Center, and for me the only things there that hadn't changed were Hogan's and 2nd Look Books, where Bill worked in high school. Everything had remodeled or moved out or closed down.

We sat down and I immediately asked our young, yet familiar looking* waitress if they still served Green River soda. She had no idea what I was talking about. I then spontaneously grew a three foot long beard that tapered off to a point at the end. One of the bus boys happened by at that moment and I asked him if he remembered Green River. He said that he did and that Hogan's had stopped serving it years ago. My beard then shrunk down to a tasteful Sam Elliot style mustache.

When our waitress came by again, I tried to sound as creepy as possible. "This is weird but you look really familiar. Did you have an older sister who went to Ferris [High School]?"
"Oh, what was her name?"
"Shelby blah blah."
Jon, Bill and I looked at each other. No bell's rung.
"Yeah. That's not familiar at all. Sorry for sounding creepy."
"Oh no problem!"

Jon ordered the biscuits and gravy. This kid must be going through his own B&G phase. The plate was smothered with greasy goodness.

I ordered the meat loaf sandwich because I was hankering for some brown gravy. The gravy was thick but edged on too salty, but the meat loaf was perfectly moist. I asked for french fries instead of mashed potatoes, as mashed potatoes are a side dish I'm never in the mood for.

Yes, the keen the observer will note, those are mashed potatoes on my plate and not french fries. When our waitress realized the mistake, she brought out a jumbo basket of fries. We also inquired if we could get Hollandaise sauce for our fries. It was missing from the menu, but the waitress had no problem bringing us out a little dish. You can tell from the picture that it wasn't of the highest quality, but it was still good enough to assuage our sense of nostalgia.

The real star of the meal was Bill's order of the "Big Bopper." It's a load of food. Three pieces of toast (Why three? Simple math. Three is better than two), hash browns (unfortunately not the Spokane-style I was hoping for), two eggs and some bacon. Toss a couple of pancakes on there and you get...well...a LOAD of food.

It was fun being in this old haunt again. Oddly, a lot of the places that held significance for me in Spokane aren't around anymore. The Denny's on Sprague is now some Mongolian Grill. The place where we had dinner before prom has burned down. It was good to see old Horace Hogan depicted on the interior wall, greeting me with a burger.

There was only one disappointment during this little trip down memory lane: Nobody dropped a glass.

Food: Good
Price: 6-9
Service: Friendly.
Pie: Yes.

2977 E 29TH Ave,
Spokane, WA 99223-4811
Tel: (509) 535-7567

This bring us to the end of the Spokane portion of the "On the Road" journey. I'm making a quick sojourn back to Los Angeles to review a place and then I'll continue with my Northwest reviews. Look for Wenatchee Washington's Prospector Pies soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

On the Road: Spokane's Diners pt. 3 and 4- Dolly's Cafe and the Milk Bottle

I literally have 10 places to write about for this On the Road series. Expect more succinct but hopefully still fun and informative reviews from here on out until I get back to reviewing the SOCAL area.

The same day that we hit Frank's Diner, Jon truly surprised me by taking me to a place I had never even seen before. A quaint neighborhood diner called Dolly's Cafe. You can't miss this little shack of griddled goodness, the building is bright pink. And really part of the what I found charming about this place was the "shacky"ness of it. It was an old building. So old it would always looks just a little dirty and rough no matter what.

Jon, Stephanie and I sat down and made friends with a sweet and chatty waitress. She brought us water in giant coca cola classes and then disappeared. We then and ordered from our laidback "heeeyyy, maaann" waiter. He looked at my ancient digital camera (vintage '98 my friends) and marveled at how cool it was. I think he thought it was cool in a "Wow, technology!" way and not a "Wow! That's like walking in with an 8-track player." way.

He was honest when I asked for a recommendation. He asked if I was in the mood for a breakfast or a burger. I told him "Whichever you think you guys do the best." He straight up said "Eggs Benedict" So that's what I got. And lo and behold I think I may have discovered that Spokane has their own style of hashbrowns. These potatoes were just like the ones I got at Frank's. The eggs benedict was also delicious. The eggs were poached well enough that they didn't gush yolk everywhere when cut into.

(edited for correction) Stephanie got the country-fried steak. I don't have a taste for the country-fried steak since it was first inflicted upon me in elementary school. That can be very hard for a child. Oddly enough though I don't eat tostadas because the ones I had in elementary school were soooo good the real thing is always a disappointment.

Jon had a simple grilled turkey melt. He enjoyed it. I tried some of the fries and found them perfectly decent diner fries. Not too greasy but nothing to rave about.

The coffee was also pretty durn good. Not strong but smooth.

Price: $6-$9
Food: Good.
Service: Very friendly and chatty.
[Honestly, I forgot to make note of if they served pie or not, so I called them this morning;
Guy at Dolly's: Uhhh... good morning.. Dah-ummm... Dolly's Cafe.
Me: Hey, this is kind of an odd question. Do you guys have pie?
Guy at Dolly's: Ummm What?
Me: Do you guys serve pie?
Guy at Dolly's: Pot?
Me: Pie.
Guy at Dolly's: Uhhhhhhh.......let me check to see what we have.
Me: .............
Guy At Dolly's: It looks like.... umm... Chocolate?
Me: Great. That's all I needed to know.]
Pie: "umm... Chocolate?"
1825 N Washington St,
Spokane, WA 99205-4758
I'd give the phone number but.... you don't want to do that.

Now jumping forward to my last day in Spokane, before Jon took me to the airport we stopped at a cozy little place fans of Johnny Depp and/or quirky romantic comedies should recognise.

As seen in the movie Benny and Joon

(That's me on the right.)

Although the Milk Bottle offers a full menu of burger diner favorites, Jon and I were only in the mood for one thing; milkshakes. I got the peanut butter he got something with chocolate. In this picture you can't really tell them apart. They were good though.

The milk bottle is a cute neighborhood place, as well as being an historical landmark. Done up in an maltshop style, including a working jukebox and stainless steel everywhere, it's one of those places that just makes you feel happy. I don't feel like it's the kind of place I could ever be a regular at even if I didn't live 960 miles away. It feels like a vacation place and not a place to hang my hat.

Price: 3-7
Food: n/a
Service: Fine.
Pie: Tons of desserts to chose from including pie. Get a milkshake though.

802 W Garland Ave
Spokane, WA 99205
(509) 325-1772

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

On the Road: Spokane's Diners Pt.1 and 2- Frank's Diner and Pioneer Pies

I lived in Spokane, Washington, for only 6 years. Those were middle school and high school years, though--years that really shape you as person. I graduated from Joel E. Ferris High School in 1997. I've been back periodically over the years, but this trip was for a thing that some people dread: The 10 Year Reunion.

But this this isn't a blog about that. This is not a blog about disappointment and failure. It's about those diners and greasy spoons we so love. During the Spokane leg of my vacation, I was able to hit three full-fledged diners as well as two other places worth mentioning. Without further ado...
Pt. 1 Frank's Diner

If you're from Spokane and you go out to breakfast at least once a month, you have intimate knowledge of Frank's Diner or its crosstown brother, Knights Diner. They were once both real, working railroad cars. This means they are often cramped and have limited seating. Unless you get real lucky, like Jon and I did on our trip there. You can expect a ten to fifteen minute wait, but it is always worth the wait. Unfortunately for Knights Diner, they are closed on Monday's and I didn't get to eat there on this trip; therefore, this is where it will exit the review.
Frank's Diner has been been voted the "Best Breakfast in Spokane" for ten years now. Spokane might have a lot of problems, but knowing where to get its first meal of the day is not one of them.

"Frank's serves 15,000 eggs and 2 1/2 tons of hash browns a meal at a time," boasts a sign in the interior. I know I lack elegance when I say, "That's a hell of a lot."

I ordered the coffee while Jon ordered the hot chocolate. I hate to say the coffee tasted a bit burnt and required actual sugar, not my beloved Splenda or the pink or blue stuff, to make it palatable enough for me to get through a cup. Jon's hot chocolate was something truly special to behold.

Jon said "the chocolate chips added to the bon vivantof the drink."
...Jon is not a writer. I'm barely one, but anyway...

I got into a habit on this trip of ordering things with a person's name in the them. Remember how every place with "Joe" in the name had a "Joe's Special?" Well, there sure are a lot of "Frank's _______" on this menu. So you know what I got? The "Joe's Special:" 3 eggs scrambled, spinach, ground beef with grated Parmesan cheese, served with hash browns and a bread. It sounded delicious with just a little bit of the unusual. I was pleasantly surprised at how well everything went together.

Jon, not being that big on breakfast breakfast, surprised me with a pretty hardcore meal of smothered hash browns and two crispy sausage links. Jon and I both agreed that the hash browns were fantastic. Very unique to me, they were slices of potato, almost like thin cut french fries. They were not greasy at all but definitely had that fried taste you hope for with a good plate of hash browns. Jon did think there was a bit too much gravy. You might want to order it-- not on the side really--just on half the plate and mix it all together yourself.

You can't beat a Frank's breakfast. If you are traveling through town it is a must for any diner lover. If you live in Spokane, eat there at least once or twice a month. Dinerwood commands it!
Food: Delicious
Service: Craig the counter guy was friendly and knowledgeable. Some of the waitresses can get a bit snippy because of the need for quick turnover.
Price: 6-10
Pie: No, pie. Only cobbler.

1516 W. 2nd Ave
Spokane, WA 99204
PART 2. Pioneer Pies
Pioneer Pies is still a mainstay in some parts of the country. Old timey, folksy decor and delicious pies made it a favorite for families and pie lovers everywhere. Or in my case, a mysterious wonderland: my family never went to Pioneer Pies for some reason. Sadly, the Pioneer Pies in Spokane shuttered it's pie-sills and the building became a casino, much like every closed down building around here nowadays. For Spokanites, the legend gets to live on as part of Conley's Place restaurant in the Spokane Valley. Conley's Place is an odd Irish-y restaurant with a lot of lattice work. I don't know what the connection between the two restaurants is but, Conley's Place serves Pioneer Pies' pies. It even has a Pioneer Pies sign on the building. And since the picture of the Conley's Place sign turned out even worse than this, all you get is the Pioneer Pies part of the sign.

Jon, his girlfriend Stephanie, my friend Bill's wife Lynn (Bill will be appearing later in the blog)and I, all went out for dinner. Well, originally it was to go roller skating, but SOMEBODY isn't so good at listening to phone recordings and got the hours of operation of the roller rink wrong. I won't review the food at Conley's because it's not a diner or a greasy spoon. I will however review the delicious piece of pie I had.
Meet the Almond Joy. With Halloween all up on it I have had the pleasure of rediscovering the...dare I say it? The JOY of the Almond Joy candy bar. This pie strives to recreate that candy combo in pie form. Here's the slice; bottom layer of chocolate cream, then a thin layer of slice almonds, then a layer of coconut cream, another layer of almonds, then whipped cream with a few chocolate chips on top. Now, it didn't taste just like he candy bar, which I didn't really expect it to, but it invoked the essence. The tasty, tasty essence.

Food: Tasty
Service: The restaurant was closing early because we were the only diners, but they didn't rush us or even mention it until we were out the door.
Price: Pie 3-4
Pie:...well, yeah.
12618 E Sprague Ave
Spokane, WA
Tel: (509) 924-5411

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dinerwood on the Road!

That's right for the next week I'll be traveling the state of Washington hitting the best diners and reviewing them all for your reading pleasure. Look for a load of updates when I get back!

I'll be sure to hit ol' Frank's Diner in Spokane!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Four 'n 20 - like the nursery rhyme not like the drug code.

I have a very sordid story involving Four ‘n 20 Pies. It’s a story I like to tell, so I will tell it here.

Years ago, I had a Craigslist date. If it weren't for Craigslist, I wouldn't have found my apartment, my first job or...well, let's just leave it at that. The CL has been good to me. However, I knew this particular date would not go well. It was a “Safety Date.” First of all, it was during the day and was for coffee. Secondly, it was at a Starbucks where the girl’s roommate worked and would be working at the time of the date. Can’t you just feel the romance in the air?

The date itself was mediocre at best. She kept interrupting me and not in a “I wanna get in on this hilarious story you are telling me” way, but in an “I'm not listening and am going to interject something, just 'cuz” kind of way. I suffered through the coffee and then it was time to go. She lived nearby and had taken the bus, so, at first, I offered to drive her home, momentarily forgetting that this was a “Safety Date;" I then offered to walk her to the bus stop.

On our way to the bus stop, I saw the sign for Four ‘n 20 Pies. My dour mood immediately brightened and I said, “Let’s go there!” She agreed. Now, once inside and eating pie, the date seemed to be going much smoother. This was solely due to the pie I am sure.

I never went out with that girl again, but I did see her one more time...on the Internet...on a porno site.

Now isn't that a great story about how I found this place? Way better than my usual “I googled it” explanation, I believe.

I go to Four ‘n 20 once every couple of months. Its valley location is just nowhere near anywhere else I frequent. Often on lazy weekend afternoons, especially if I’m feeling blue, I’ll head out that way for some fruit pie or maybe even a full meal.

The regular food at Four ‘n 20 can be a bit pricey; most entrees are about ten dollars. It’s not rare that when ordering an entree, coffee and a slice of pie, with tip, I’m spending close to twenty dollars.

The staff here is always friendly and quick to serve. This comes in especially helpful because of the tiny cups they use for coffee service.

Part of the fun of coming here is the crowd it attracts. It seems squarely split between Valley hipsters and middle-aged housewives. I was wearing my Captain America for President T-shirt here once, and a Valley Hipster walked in wearing the same shirt. He looked like he was about to shit a Von Dutch brick. (You got the shirt at Target dude. Don't front.)

On my most recent trip to Four 'n 20, I was seated next to a lovely pair of moms. One of whom spent most of the time on her cell phone complaining to someone about her daughter who just can't handle living on her own and had to call her daddy to deal with a spider. Oh, and also that daughter was lazy. Then the women got off her phone and talked to the other mom about how that mom's son was just getting into too much trouble at school. Oh, and also she loves her new Land Rover.

On this day I decided to get a breakfast. I ordered the sauteed onions and eggs with home fries and a piece of cornbread.

My eggs were a little wet and the onions didn't seem all that sauteed to me. The home fries were tasty though. The cornbread was excellently moist, but not fully cake. They serve the corn bread with a dish of cinnamon butter that makes it just fantastic.

My motto is usually this when it comes to pie in Los Angeles: House of Pies for cream, Four 'n 20 for fruit. (Four 'n 20 has the best rhubarb pie ever. Rhubarb!...wait.. rhubarb isn't a fruit is it?) This day something new caught my eye on the menu--"Banana Fudge Cream Pie"--I had to try it.

This was a beautiful pie. It was also incredibly rich and thick. I loved the first few bites, but then it seemed as though the whole world (or perhaps just my stomach) was getting heavy. I struggled to finish. Unfortunately, it became a chore, albeit a tasty chore, but a chore nonetheless.

Four 'n 20 is probably one of my favorite out of my way places to go in LA. I recommend giving it a shot. Try the rhubarb pie. it a fruit? Can't be... it's red celery...anyway....

Food: Good.
Service: Spectacular.
Price: A bit high.
Pie: Yes. Great fruit pies.

4723 Laurel Canyon Blvd,
North Hollywood 91607
Between Riverside Ave & Ventura Fwy
Phone: 818-761-5128

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pat and Lorraine's Coffeeshop- "Like a virgin"

Mr. Brown: Let me tell you what 'Like a Virgin' is about. It's all about a girl who digs a guy with a big dick. The entire song. It's a metaphor for big dicks.
Mr. Blonde: No, no. It's about a girl who is very vulnerable. She's been fucked over a few times. Then she meets some guy who's really sensitive...
Mr. Brown: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa... Time out Greenbay. Tell that fucking bullshit to the tourists.

Any film fan worth their weight in Junior Mints will tell you immediately that those are the opening lines of Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs." Those famous lines were spoken here-

at Pat and Lorraine's Coffeeshop in Eagle Rock.

Before I review a place that is a bit more well-known than other places I have visited, I always take a look at the other customer review sites to see what others think or what kind of reputation the place has. I was just checking Citysearch and getting past the fact that Citysearch lists Pat and Lorraine's as "CLOSED", there are some ridiculous people reviewing this place. One woman complains about 2.00 coffee(!!!) What decade is this woman living in? The oughts? I mean the last century oughts, not the oughts we're living now. Yes, two dollars is ridiculously expensive for coffee but that's pretty standard pricing anywhere. Another person complains about a bagel, coffee and a fruit bowl costing them 10 dollars with tip! You're getting a fruit bowl from a coffeeshop, douche pile! A fruit bowl at the grocery store is five bucks. And with the already established 2 dollar coffee and a pretty standard 2 or so dollars for a bagel anywhere- You're a shitty tipper. The person also laments the lack of milkshakes- which is indeed lamentable as every restaurant from Spagos to Pizza by Alfredo should have milkshakes...and pie-I think this person's real problem is they just don't know how to construct a meal. Bagel. Coffee. Fruit Bowl. Chocolate Milkshake. What. The. Hell?

Everyone has different experiences at different restaurants, that's for sure. All I can say for myself with the four times I've eaten at Pat and Lorraine's Coffeeshop, the food has been wonderful. Truly great.

People do have a point about the service though. It can be spotty a lot of the time. Yesterday morning we had to ask our waitress three times for water. And each time she came by our table she would mention our missing waters. So, high points for observation, low points for follow through.

Antoinette ordered the two eggs and polish sausage breakfast. She likes her eggs a specific way "Scrambled well". She means scrambled and cooked slightly longer than usual. She hates "wet" eggs. The last place she ordered this, Delores, took this to mean "Eggs, scrambled until they are in tiny pieces." Pat and Lorraine's understood, without explanation, what she meant and her eggs were perfect. Almost the consistency of a quiche. She also opted to get the beans and rice which are offered in place of the homefries. This is by no means a unique option, but it does provide a sometimes sorely needed break from your ordinary breakfast combo.

I got "The Jose Special"; eggs with homefries and two sausage patties on a lava flow of country gravy. Add to that an order of a giant biscuit and you've got a biscuits and gravy meal ready to make for yourself. The homefries include some onion and green pepper and are delicious. My eggs were a bit wet but I don't mind that. The sausage patties were what they were and when mixed in with the potatoes and eggs made a nice scramble. I halved my biscuit and heaped a mound of gravy on top. I then buttered and jammed the other half of the biscuit making my meal complete. The gravy had a savory chicken taste to it and the biscuit managed to be fluffy and flavorful.

Pat and Lorraine's has a very nice all season patio that accommodates large groups well. It seems you can always find large Latino families there and groups of college kids taking up space.

Pat and Lorraine's isn't cheap but is by no means expensive. You get large portions of delicious food. If you are willing to put up with lackluster service than you have no reason to not make this place a regular eatery.

I almost forgot to add- CASH ONLY folks. Cash only.

Food: Delicious.
Service: Lacking.
Price: Reasonable.
Pie: Apple and Pumpkin, not made on premises.

4720 Eagle Rock Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90041
(323) 257-7926

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Angel'Z- Yes.... a "Z"

Last Wednesday, I woke up and realized I had virtually no food in the house, just some fresh picked apples and a jar of alfredo sauce. This simply would not do. I have no recipes for apples with alfredo! I hustled through the morning shower and shave, tossed on my office attire and hit the streets. I thought of going to Millie’s again- a sort of return to that would be nice, then I remembered a place just three blocks from me. I always seem to miss their open hours but I felt confident that on a Wednesday at 8am, they would be open.

I was glad to see that Angel’Z on the corner of Hollywood and Western was open. The reason I always missed their open hours is because they close at 6 during the week and at 3:30 on weekends. They do open at 5:30 every day for you early risers.

Angel’Z, despite having the oddest name I could think of for a diner, is straight-up classic diner dining. This tiny place seems to be part of the Days Inn motel and shares a parking lot. I don’t know if it’s kosher to park in the Days Inn parking lot if you are just eating at Angel’Z, but my parents stayed there last time they were in town and their tv’s remote didn’t work so I figure the motel owes me something.

Booths are reserved for parties of two or more so I sat up at the counter. The kitchen area is completely open. You can see where they store their bread, the fridge with the meat and the massive grill where they do the cooking. For being only six booths, and twelve counter spots, they were well staffed with two waitresses, a busboy and the cook.

Angel’Z has probably the cheapest menu I have ever seen in a place without a drive-thru and a mascot. Most breakfasts are between five and six bucks. I ordered a porkchop and three eggs with hash browns and toast for 5.50. I hadn’t had a porkchop in years. My mom used to make them all the time on our electric griddle.

I loved watching the cook make my breakfast; cracking the eggs, flipping the hash browns, pressing the porkchop with a flat iron. When my toast popped up from the toaster he slathered it with butter. In a moment the waitress brought my breakfast sprawl out to me.

First of all the porkchop was delicious, juicy, seasoned and salty just like pork from a griddle should be. The eggs were a bit greasy but fine. The hash browns could have stood to be pressed on the heat a bit longer to get them crispier. Like I mentioned in the paragraph before the cook slathered the butter on the toast, which I could see some people not caring for. My doctor said my cholesterol is fine so slather away cook, slather away!

A minor note: I saw Mexican Coke in one of the display cases, so I assume you can order it. Mexican Coke is made with real cane sugar whereas Coke made in the states in made with High Fructose Corn Syrup. This interestingly comes from the whole “New Coke” fiasco from years ago. When regular Coke was brought back after New Coke failed, the formula for classic Coke was modified to include HFCS. Mexico never got New Coke so their Coke formula never went through a change.

Price: $5-$7
Food: Decent.
Service: Good. Could be faster on coffee refills though.
Pie: No. Packaged pastries is all you'll find.

At the intersection of Hollywood and Western.

UPDATE: Angel'z doesn't exist anymore, it's now called 54Twenty and looks pretty good -

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Square One: Dining In The Shadow Of Xenu

At the same party that brought Delores’ to my attention, I was also told about a nouveau diner in my own neighborhood. It took a while to make it there but I finally did. I dragged Paul and Jeff, the gentleman who told us about it, along with me to Square One.

Paul lives down the street from Square One and had never really noticed it before. I had driven past it multiple times and had no idea where it was. This is easy to do since the front of this nouveau diner is pretty nondescript. On my second pass that day, I finally saw it. I realized another reason why I always missed it- I’m always looking at the other side of the street. Square One is in the shadow of a sprawling Scientology complex. You can’t help but stare at this thing as you drive by. The Scientologists own a lot of property here in Hollywood and this particular building reminds me of the apartment building in “Ghost Busters”, just painted blue. It looms ominously over everything.

I parked down the street and was the first to arrive. Square One is tiny. It’s your living room. Most of the tables are two tops but one long table rests in the middle. I told the host that there were would be three of us. She looked at me downright suspiciously before sending me to one side of the long table. It wasn’t more than a minute later that Paul arrived dissuading the host from thinking I was running some kind of seating scam on her.

We looked over the menu and Paul ordered an orange juice and I a coffee. The juice was the regular much too small for what you pay size that is restaurant standard. My coffee was served in a mug large enough to choke a bear. The coffee itself had a slight burnt taste.

Paul and I looked over the limited but dynamic menu. After the initial sticker shock- Square One is priced for ultimate hipness- I was delighted to find that everything on the menu sounded ridiculously good. It was insanely difficult to decide. Fortunately, Jeff had yet to show, giving us more time.

"Well, let me know when Elijah arrives" quipped our waiter.

After changing my mind about a half dozen times on what to order, Jeff finally arrived. Our waiter quickly got down to business.

Jeff ordered one of their signature baked egg dishes. Chorizo, gruyere cheese, salsa roja and bell peppers. He also got a side of bacon and a a slice of their Saturday only coffee cake.

The coffee cake came out first. All three of us dug in. I found it too bready.

He also liked his baked egg dish. Having been there several times he confidently can say he's never been disappointed by his food.

I should also mention that Jeff, a Jew, loves their bacon!

In fact if he could chose one way to die, it would be by eating their bacon.

And somewhere his foreskin is weeping.

Paul opted for an omelet including garlic/lemon thyme chicken sausage with gruyere cheese. Square One loves gruyere cheese I guess. Paul displayed his unsophisticated palate by lamenting the lack of ketchup for his eggs and potatoes.

Paul let me try some of those sweet looking potatoes . They were nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Delicious.

Jeff's love for the bacon inspired me to try what in my opinion was the most interesting soundings dish. 3 buttermilk pancakes served with a bacon enriched caramel sauce.

I was delighted when this beautiful dish hit the table. Bacon on pancakes is nothing groundbreaking to be sure but chunks of this premium bacon and a bacon "enriched" sauce- not a syrup mind you, but a sauce-was something new at least for me.

The best way to describe the bacon is to imagine the texture of one of those gross slabs of individual jerky strips you get at a 7-11, a little firm on the outside but squishy on the inside. Now remove the disgusting flavor and add a savory flavor from an actual pig. There's your Square One bacon.

It was fabulously rich and flavorful. I do advise you to pour that sauce onto the pancakes as soon as you can. It turns into a thick gravy sludge once it cools down.

Overall, Square One was a great experience. I would highly recommend it for any small group of people who like splurge a little on a interesting new take on breakfast standards. Large groups of spendthrifts, I suggest you stay away. Square One is similar to Doughboys except NOT closed down due to a major cockroach infestation.

Price: 8-15
Food: Very Good.
Service: Attentive and speedy since they want to get you out as soon as possible to make room for more diners.
Pie: Sadly, no.

Square One
4854 Fountain Avenue
Los Angeles CA 90029