Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dinerwood on the Road: Ellen's Pancake House, Buellton, CA


Quaint little roadside eatery.








Delicious biscuits and well-scrambled eggs. Hashbrowns were okay.


Tasty thin Danish pancakes. 

Add your own ham!



Food: Good
Service: Good
Price: Decent
Pie:

Ellen's Pancake House
Dining Hours:
Monday 6 a.m.–2 p.m.,
Tuesday–Sunday 6 a.m.–8 p.m


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Honey Bee's House of Breakfast -




Honey Bee's House of Breakfast has a long name, a tiny dining room, and big menu. Seriously, there are only about 8 tables in the whole place. You know how some diners are converted houses or storefronts? I think Honey Bee's is a converted waiting room for a defunct auto-repair place.

Honey Bee's menu mixes Central American and North American cuisines. The menu looks like it has way too much to offer so my advice is to go with the basics.







I ordered the "El Clasico."
Rice and beans, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, plantains, avocado and two pupusas. It was delicious.  


















#1Diner Companion Antoinette had the--well, if the Central American breakfast is the "El Clasico"--we'll call this "The Classic." Scrambled eggs, hash browns and sausage patties. This was also delicious.









Something that you absolutely must try at Honey Bees are the pancakes. You know those heavy, daunting pancakes you get at most places? The ones that you kind of regret ordering because they just sit like lumps in your stomach for what seems like a week. These LOOK just like those except they are the most perfect version of those pancakes. They have heft without giving you that sinking feeling and they have a sweetness that you can't place but you know has been missing from every other pancake you have eaten that has had that appearance. 

The coffee was also good--way better then you would expect. 

Food: Delicious
Service: Attentive
Price: $8-10
Pie: No.

Honey Bee's House of Breakfast
4715 W Adams Blvd
Los AngelesCA 90016

Monday, June 24, 2013

LA WEEKLY Blog post - Clifton's Mistress

Clifton's Cafeteria is set to reopen later this year after a massive overhaul and a new owner. Originally, I was less than enthused about this project but the more I hear about it, the more at ease I get.

Unrelated to the overhaul, the LA WEEKLY published a story about an interesting bit of history involving the original owner Clifford E. Clinton.

It's kind of sexy.

Read more...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Not a diner, but still damn good- Top Round Roast Beef

Sup? Long time no see? That's pretty much the story of this blog for the last two years isn't it? Sorry, guys.
Writing about Top Round will provide the opportunity to write about something a little different. 

I have to thank Eater LA for this one. I read about it on Friday and knowing that #1Dinerwife and I were planning on being over on that side of town on Saturday, we decided to do lunch there. Now, if you read the Eater link you'll notice a detail that I had missed. Top Round technically opens... tomorrow.

#1Dinerwife Antoinette and I crashed the Top Round invitation only soft open.



It certainly looked open to us. There was a ton of people there. We parked in the lot, I snapped this picture and we walked up. It looked open and busy and except for a small sign on the order window there was no hint that it was by invite only. They certainly weren't hassling anyone, which makes me think it "was invitation only" in that if you knew to go, you were in the know.

The menu is small, but I prefer to call it direct. Top Round is about three basic things- roast beef, curly fries and frozen custard. The menu is just a few variations based around these items.
I went for the Beef on Weck, a traditional east coast beef sandwich served on a caraway and sea salt bun.  Antoinette ordered the Horse & Hole which came with provolone cheese and mushrooms with horseradish cream sauce. We also ordered two orders of curly fries, one plain and the other with gravy. 


The curly fries, which by the by, are fried in beef fat, were delicious. I don't think I've ever had fries done in beef fat and I was shocked by how not greasy they were.  

The Horse & Hole was a solid sandwich. The only negative was that the mushrooms seemed slap-dashed on which, you know, #firstworldproblems.












The Beef on Weck was simple. The roast beef  was so tender and light and tasty. I think I inhaled it in five bites.

We were too full to try the frozen custard, which means we'll be back. I think the nearest frozen custard place of note near here is Las Vegas.

So to sum up, starting tomorrow eat the holy hell out of some straight-up tasty roast beef sandwiches.

Food: Good.
Service: Friendly
Price: Cheap
Pie: No, but one of the custard combinations is "blueberry pie."

Top Round Roast Beef
1000 S La Brea Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 549-9445

Monday, April 8, 2013

Dinerwood on the Road? Kind of? Little Green Onions in Riverside

Riverside...exotic Riverside.


I always imagined Riverside as being a city too far out of the way for me to ever end up going there; “The Bakersfield of the East.” I had no idea that it’s really not that far from Los Angeles. #1DinerWife had to go to Riverside for a weekend for a work event and I decided to go with her to check it out. During this weekend, I was able to try a few different diner joints which I think gave me a pretty good sense of what old school eating is like in Riverside.  

The first place I went was the interestingly named place "Little Green Onions." That just sounds like an adorable place to go. After experiencing the cutesy downtown area of Riverside, I was half-expecting some tiny storefront conversion with mismatched table-clothes and a cook with a pixie haircut.   

As I drove out of that cutesy downtown, I soon discovered that Riverside is rundown. Almost as if the whole of the outer rings of the city were made up of extras on "Breaking Bad." Now, don't get me wrong, I like rundown things. I'm not slighting the city for being a ****hole. I just didn't know. 
















I was surprised and happy that Little Green Onions was actually in an old school googie building. 




It was a hectic morning at Little Green Onions and the joint was jam-packed. There were waiting families crowding the entry and not an empty table in sight. I saw a very low counter with some open space and I took my liberty. (I don't really know what that means, but it sounded cool when I first typed it out)  


The seats at the counter...were office chairs. 

Office. Chairs.

I am so on board with that weirdness. 

The fun part of sitting at the counter is the ability to observe the staff prepping and dancing around each other. Little Green Onions seemed far more chaotic than any other place I have had the pleasure to observe. A lot of "where's the-" and "has anyone seen?" and even a few "no, they ordered that not this."

The menu at Little Green Onions is pretty standard for a family restaurant. There was more of an emphasis on Mexican dishes, but I expected that with most of the interior decor being sombreros and maracas. Like I've talked about before; some diners really wish they were some other ethnic food, but they know they'll do better casting a wide net. 

An older gentleman took the rolling office chair next to me and ordered an oatmeal. The waitress asked if he wanted it made with milk or just water. I thought that was pretty cool. Sure, I wouldn't be surprised if it was instant oatmeal, but that is a nice option to give.

I went with a nice sounding pork chop breakfast combo. 



It was overall decent...except for my pork was very under-cooked. The first bite I thought "Mmm, juicy" and then in subsequent bites I realized "oh, I'm going to die."   

I really wish I had liked Little Green Onions more. Rather, I wish there was more to like about Little Green Onions other than the classic building and office chairs. The yelp reviews are all over the place, but I would assume that since the place really wants to be a Mexican restaurant, that would be the way to go next time. Not that there would really be a next time for me. I don't think I'd go back there. 

Food: Decent, save for the under-cooked pork. 
Service: Friendly but scattered.
Price: Cheap.
Pie: I don't think so.

Little Green Onions
6723 Brockton Ave.
Riverside CA 




Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dinerwood on the Road International!: Melbourne's Pancake Parlour


I recently had the good fortune of going to Australia to indulge in my other hobby. As soon as I found out that I was going, I looked into possible places I could review. Being on someone else's schedule and without a vehicle of my own meant I was going to be limited to places near where we would be staying. I made a list of places that given the opportunity I could make a try for. I wasn't having much luck until halfway through the trip an opportunity finally arose in Melbourne. Early one morning and I was able to strike out on my own.

Before we get into the review, I should mention some of the related culture shock I experienced while on this trip. Like Vincent Vega said in "Pulp Fiction," "it's the little differences." Free internet access is nearly non-existent. List of places with reliable free wi-fi: McDonalds, Starbucks. End of list!
Breakfast is referred to as "brekkie." All coffee there is espresso--ALL OF IT.

That last one is a big one. I'm a simple man, I like butter on my toast and coffee in my mouth--regular filtered coffee. You order a regular coffee there and they will bring some watery instant stuff from a packet. They have their espresso drinks dialed tight (I have come to enjoy a 'flat white' espresso when the opportunity presents itself), but regular coffee not so much. Refills were not free and in an already expensive country, my habit was severely denting my per diem. I had taken to carrying a travel mug with me so I could refill with the instant coffee packets found in my hotel rooms.





My destination that morning was The Pancake Parlour. I should say, it is a chain in Australia. I think it was okay to break my "no chain" policy while on another continent. This location, in downtown Melbourne, was actually on the lower level of a shopping complex. It was located across from The Reject Shop, which the name alone made me so want to shop there after my "brekkie." Turns out that The Reject Shop is just the Aussie version of Big Lots. Honesty, pass it on.

Traveling down the escalator I was greeted by this wonderful Victorian-esque mural. I don't know what a "pancake tossing race" is but I'm pretty it was the sexiest thing since exposed ankles at the beach.







This photo doesn't sell it as much as I'd like but The Pancake Parlour is like a bizarre mash-up of an IHOP and an old-school Shakey's Pizza.



Checking out the menu I was a little surprised that so much of the focus was on pancakes. I know that sounds weird, but I expected a scatter-shot menu--"family restaurant" style--an Outback Jack-s Of All Trades, if you will (yes, I did just make that joke). This was all about pancakes, both sweet and savory and then a few token salads and egg breakfasts.

Within seconds of scanning the menu my jaw dropped and I heard a hosanna from the angels.





Bottomless. Filtered. Coffee. Hell. Yeah. I would have stayed all day if I could.



Everything is better with a monkey on it.



I couldn't decide between the Jamaican Banana or the Hot Buttered Walnut pancakes. That's when I saw it.




This was "It." And "It" was good. It's the banana and the walnut together. I rarely go for this kind of dessert for breakfast since it can be overwhelming, but I was on a vacation of sorts. I was going to live a little. This combination worked really well. It was sweet but not too sweet. The bananas still tasted like bananas and the walnuts complimented them well. I opted for whipped cream over ice cream, because being on vacation is one thing, going whole hog is something else. 8am definitely sounded like too early for ice cream. Maybe I should have just gone for it, I probably wasn't thinking straight. It had been so long since I had had...






...SWEET, SWEET REGULAR OLD DRIP COFFEE.

I can't really evaluate if this was good or not...but it was hot and familiar and it definitely was good at the time. A tiny taste of home that served its purpose.



In fact, as I was finishing up and the waitress came by to ask if there was anything else she could do for me, I asked her if she could refill my coffee one last time.  When she came back with the pot, I asked if she could just pour it directly into my travel mug. She seemed confused but she did oblige.

Food: Good
Price $18-22--yes expensive, but you don't tip in Australia so it balances out a bit.
Service: Good.
Pie: No pie. 

The Pancake Parlor
Bourke Street Mall
Melbourne, Australia
Pancake Parlour website

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Conrads in Pasadena "We Serve to Serve Again"

 





 
Conrads is one of those places that just exists. No one ever talks about it, but everyone knows about it and just kind of shrugs. You maybe get a "Oh, I think my grandparents took me there once."
There are two locations, one in Glendale and one in Pasadena. The Pasadena location we have driven by dozens of time, but it just vibed too strongly as a chain restaurant to make me really want to experience it. Recently, we finally gave in to our curiosity.



It really does look like a "once with my grandparents" place. Those mauve seat cushions really POP, don't they? I want to believe that at one point the burnt orange of the lettering outside was found inside. In my imagination the wood grain walls and that groovy orange would have been been magical. Now here in the real world, the main dining room looks like the lobby of a Sheraton in North Dakota.

 

 
'Family restaurants' cater to a nightmarish family that must be impossible to please or incredibly large. Conrads is a family restaurant and the menu casts a wide net. There is something for everyone and then some.
 
Breakfasts have become a bit of struggle for #1DinerWife and I since we are pursuing something close to a low-carb lifestyle. A full breakfast out anywhere is nearly half-carbohydrates. We struggle to find satisfying workarounds.
 




Lately my breakfast of choice has been Canadian Bacon and Eggs. It's not just the best pizza topping, it is also a great way to mix up your "ham and egg" routine. What is the difference between ham and Canadian bacon? Nothing really when it comes down to it. Different parts of the pig but they pretty much taste the same. Where I am finding the benefit in getting the Canadian bacon is that it is the perfect size for an English muffin. Now how does this jibe with our new low-carb lifestyle. Well, it's more of a 'suggestion' then a lifestyle sometimes. I have gotten quite apt at balancing one half of the muffin with a slice of Canadian bacon and part of my eggs on top. In place of the potatoes, I subbed in some cottage cheese.   



Remember, I said low-carb "suggestion." #1DinerWife Antoinette ordered the fried egg sandwich with bacon. This fried egg sandwich was pretty simple, slightly too simple. The bread was buttered lightly but not toasted. It was just bread, a well-fried egg and some bacon and it was good. She opted for the side of fruit which was surprisingly decent.   

Conrads is a perfectly adequate place. Truth be told quality-wise, its not any better then a Denny's or Carrows. Maybe even a little below those chains if it came right down to it. If you've read this blog at all, you know I am a big proponent of local business and local restaurants, which is why I'd rather come here for a B- breakfast over Carrows and get only a B+ one.

"Why go there at all?" you might ask since there are places near there where you can get a solid A to A+ meal. It's more than just the quality of the food, it's the quality of the experience. Conrads' had attentive and friendly service. The awful interior decorating of the main dining room aside, it feels nice in there. Also, the lounge is a lot more vintage classy than the main room, and I definitely recommend eating in there if you have the chance. There's no picture because, well, we were there around noon and the lounge already had some regulars at the bar. I kind of think if you are at a bar at that hour, you probably don't want your picture taken.



Food: Good
Price $7-12
Service: Attentive.
Pie: Yes.

Conrads Pasadena
861 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91101
Conradsglendale.com