Saturday, December 26, 2009

Toasted Bun--Everybody knows your name.

The Toasted Bun is a cozy neighborhood spot located right off Glendale Blvd. Its parking lot only hold about nine cars and each space was taken. We parked around the corner on the street. Walking up, #1DC Antoinette commented on how cute the building was and how nice the flowers were. We both noted the delicious toast smell wafting in the the air. Our hopes were up.

You know, for a place called "The Toasted Bun," you'd think there would be at least one homemade baked good. There was not. Packaged muffins and a supermarket pie were the only items in the display case that were not made by Snapple or the Coca-Cola company. This was a little bit disconcerting.

We sat down and ordered coffee and water. I don't know if you know this, but Glendale has a bit of a water shortage. For more information visit

The waitress brought two giant, heavy mugs filled to the brim with hot coffee. The presence of my beloved Splenda on the table was off-set by their disappointing use of non-dairy creamer. After preparing our coffees, we took our first sips and were horribly disappointed. It was bitter and slightly metallic. Bad coffee can ruin a whole experience for #1DC Antoinette, but I am a bit more forgiving. I wasn't convinced that it was a lost cause--well not yet, anyhow.

It was clear after just a few minutes that everyone in the whole restaurant knew each other. People sitting at different tables were calling not only the waitresses by name, but other patrons as well. A fellow named George had his power turned off and had no idea why. Another diner told him that he had probably reached his limit for the year and the Department of Water and Power had cut him off. Because there's a limit on the amount of electricity an old dude living in a modest apartment in north Glendale can use? Maybe it had something to do with the water shortage? George used up all the water so they cut off his power. That seems like a workable theory.

That's George's back as well as the offending coffee machine.

The menu of the Toasted Bun is small. It's only open for breakfast and lunch, but even then there's not a lot of depth or surprises. The most daring it gets is a scramble called the "Zucchini Delight" (only available on weekdays).

I had heard the corn pancakes were good, but I had made my own for breakfast yesterday so I decided against it. The Eggs Benedict were the "special" on the chalkboard, so I went with that. Antoinette ordered a simple bacon and egg breakfast.

There were more pleasantries exchanged by the staff and the patrons. One couple as they left said, "We'll see you tomorrow."

George asked if he could come over to one of the waitresses houses to watch television (she did not respond).

When the waitress came back to refill my coffee (sure it was bad, but it was early in the morning and I needed coffee), Antoinette took the gamble of sending her coffee back. She asked to exchange the coffee for a tea. The waitress obliged and returned with a cup of tea. A dirty cup with crud dried on the edge and something questionable sunken to the bottom.

There were two positive things I could say about the food. The hollandaise sauce wasn't oily and the bacon was very very thin and not too soggy or too crispy. Other than that, everything was "meh." The potatoes were bland. The eggs were serviceable. It was very disappointing overall.

Regular readers know that I have long sought that place that I can hang my hat at and not just call myself a regular, but be called a regular. I have never been able to do that. George and these other people have found that here at the Toasted Bun. I am a bit jealous, but I'd rather find some place where the food is good.

Food: It was there.
Service: Okay.
Price: Cheap.
Pie: Supermarket pie in a case.

Toasted Bun Restaurant
808 E. California Ave.
Glendale, CA 91206
(818) 244-6416

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flo's Aiport Cafe- Prisons, planes and pancakes.

Over a year ago, I received a recommendation to check out Flo's Airport Cafe in Chino. It's a diner by the airport and by the prison. It really should have been at the top of my list, but for whatever reason, I only just recently made it out to this little gem.

Photog Chu, Dinerpal Paul and I busted our way out of the city and into the barren wastes of Chino. We followed the banners hung on the chain link fences along the main road. We turned left at the prison and right at the airport. The thought process that went into putting a prison next to an airport is beyond me.

It was a busy morning at Flo's, but I imagine every morning is busy at Flo's. It's a local's place. Even with the signs on the main road, you really aren't going to stumble upon it. Even when you pull into the industrial park where it is located, it is not abundantly clear which of the nondescript buildings it is. You can only figure it out by the cluster of people waiting outside.

We waited for a few minutes outside. I flipped through the pages of an airplane parts magazine called Trade-A-Plane, which seems like the Penny Saver of airplane enthusiasts. Seriously, 100 pages of parts and planes for sale. Factory Refurbished Magnetos only $667!

Inside of Flo's deceptively large interior, the walls are decorated with a hodge-podge of pictures and posters, a lot of which are of horses and planes. I got the odd feeling that Vietnam vets eat here. There were also a lot of printed signs hung up with messages like "Ice Cold Water $1.00."

When asked what she thought was the best item of the menu, our waitress was thrown for a loop. "I couldn't even begin to answer! It's all good." Now, I am seasoned enough at this review game that I can tell a fibber. Her answer was just a variation of the stock answer I usually get. But, she was telling the truth; whether or not we would agree with her still remained to be seen.

We looked over the menu--which charmingly used a lot of clip-art--and it covered all the standard diner faire. We were intrigued by the "Red Cup Orange Juice," so along with our coffee (which was good by the way) Charlie ordered it. I predicted that it would come out in one of those Christmas Red Coke glasses you get at pizza parlors and lo and behold:

Check that out! I called it.

The food breakdown: Charlie ordered the Corned Beef Hash and Eggs. I ordered the French Toast Sandwich, which Flo calls the Fran Sam. And in a dramatic twist, Paul ordered the Paul's Platter.

The gigantic french toast had a pretty interesting feature. The top slice of bread had an indentation in it that the butter (well, margarine) had pooled into. It provided a delicious dipping area. The bacon was salty, fatty, and good.

The hash browns were really good. The potatoes were thin cut and just the edges were crispy. The gravy that covered them was a little thin. The ham was delicious. The breakfast sausage was decent.

The corned beef hash was oddly rectangular, but still tasted good. Shape doesn't really effect flavor. Just don't tell the Japanese, they have a big market for that kind of thing.

The crowd at Flo's was very chatty. There were dozens of boisterous family meal conversations going on. The most exciting one that we could hear was by the Chino prison guard and his family seated behind us. He shared a few fascinating stories with his family--delightful tales of tasering a dead prisoner and a recent suicide by a Chino cop. Fun times.

At the end of our meal, we were all stuffed and satisfied. It didn't blow us away, but it was good. I wouldn't make the trip all the way out for just the food, though.

When I went up to the counter to pay--$32.57 for the three of us, so not too shabby-- I noticed the dry-erase board that listed their pies. I counted over fifteen types of pie. I felt like Bowman in "2001." My god, it's full of pie. There was one kind of pie that I didn't recognize on the board: Millionaire Pie.

It's basically a layer of cream cheese over a pecan pie. Decadent and rich. Get it!

So if you are ever flying a small plane out of Chino or visiting your dad at the prison, go ahead and enjoy a fine meal at Flo's Airport Cafe.

Food: Good.
Service: Nice.
Price: Reasonable.
Pie: Lots!

Flo's Airport Cafe
7000 Merrill Ave
Chino Airport

Chino, CA 91710
(909) 597-3416

This is just a beautiful picture. I had to include it.