Friday, June 8, 2007

The Apple Pan


This small unassuming building is home to one of the best burgers in L.A.

I'm sure most of you have already observed that I'm all about food. A little while ago, I made reference to our recent experience at the Apple Pan restaurant (on the blog about our anniversary trip). I said it would be a whole other blog, so here it is.

It started with the Apple Pan article we read in the L.A. Times Food section. They highlighted the restaurant because of its 60th anniversary. I highly recommend reading the article (click above) as it is very interesting. Being foodies and liking to experience things that are a part of our city's history, we were compelled to go. So, we decided to stop on the way home from our anniversary trip in La Jolla. I know, I know...not the most appropriate way to end a weekend full of luxury and gourmet food, but it sounded really fun!

We arrived around 2:00, so the place wasn't too busy. When you enter, you feel frozen in time - sometime in the 1940's or 1950's. That is certainly the last time they changed the decor. The photo below shows some longtime employees. This photo does looks old but it really isn't. I found it on some guy's website and it was taken recently.

We sat to the left of the old fashioned (working) cash register. Note the burger on the counter!

We got a seat fairly quickly. There is no hostess - you just hover over someone who looks like they are about to finish. As soon as the people get up, you quickly slide onto the stool. The place is a U-shaped counter with a small open cooking station in the middle and a waiter for each side.

Pick a side: We went to the right
As soon as we sat down on our stools, the waiter was in our face - Whaddulya have? Rich ordered us two steak burgers with cheese and an order of fries. Drinks? Two iced teas. That's it. He was gone and our fries appeared in front of us immediately. Not sitting under the warmer fries, mind you - but hot, perfect fries. Amazing - how did he do that? And just like the article stated, he got an additional cardboard plate out, and squirted lots of ketchup on the plate. Then he was gone. A few seconds later, he slapped down two iced teas in clear cups, with such force that some tea actually flew out of the cups.

We were just finishing up our fries when the burgers appeared. No plate - just wrapped in paper and smacked down right in front of us. Rich asked for another order of fries and the waiter disappeared without a word, returning in seconds with another perfect, hot order of fries. Now we were truly baffled. Rich concluded there must be some guy in the kitchen whose sole responsiblity is listening for the word "fries" to come out of a customer's mouth, just waiting to pounce.

The Apple Pan burger - it's a beautiful thing.


We then tasted the burgers...YUM! The bun was greasy and crisp. The meat was juicy and actually had flavor - what a concept! It also had real cheddar cheese, a cool, thick stack of iceberg lettuce, pickles, and a delicious ketchup/pickle relish spread. No tomato. No onion. Yup, they decided 60 years ago that these items were unnecessary to the Apple Pan burger. And you won't miss them.

Like I said, this was a juicy burger, and it dripped right down my face. No worries -the waiter was very sympathetic to my plight. There was a napkin holder right in front of me, but nevermind that. Whenever the waiter zoomed by us, he grabbed a napkin out of the holder and handed it to me personally. I found that to be extremely amusing. Here he was, running like crazy to serve all his customers, yet took care of me as a mother would her child. And you better wipe your face when he hands you a napkin, believe me!

The second we had devoured the last delicous bite of burger, the waiter appeared and said very matter of factly, what kind of pie? He didn't seem to be asking us IF we wanted pie, but what kind, which makes you feel rather obligated and defiant if you were to say no. However, we were stuffed and politely declined. He did look a little disappointed in us, however, he quickly whipped out the bill and seemed to expect immediate payment. Basically, if you're not going to have pie, you're done -leave. So, we paid, got up from our seats, which were immediately taken by waiting customers. The whole experience must have been only 15 minutes top.

The Apple Pan was not just a great meal, but a great experience. Maybe some would say it's just a burger, but I like this kind of place - it had a story. I figure, if a place has been around this long, it must be good. And I wasn't disappointed. I must say that I've had a craving for another Apple Pan burger since we left!

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