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 -