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Pann's: several bangs, one small whimper


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Pann's: several bangs, one small whimper

Will Owen | | Jan 30, 2009 02:02 PM

Okay, so it's my birthday, and I was just gonna take it easy...and then a client says he has some addresses he'd like pictures of, down around Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, and when can I do them? How about NOW? I suggest, thinking UUuummm, lunch at Pann's - happy birthday, Will! And thus it came to pass that I finally got to check out (1) the CFS folks are going on about, (2) the gravy someone was grousing about, and (3) the biscuits, which they now have all day long. Oh, and might as well revisit that pea soup, too, just in case they've ruined it...

The soup, I'm thrilled to report, is if anything better than it used to be. It was formerly a simple potage of dried peas cooked in a savory broth, with no other solids in evidence, then it went through a phase in which it had visible chunks of carrot and ham. The chunks are no longer visible, but they show up in the texture, and the flavor is meatier and more intense.

The biscuit, none of which I've had in a few years, has become a lofty thing the size of a kid's fist, and while not exactly flaky (very hard to do in a diner kitchen) it's tender, with a nice crust, sufficiently light interior, and no metallic or alkaline off-flavors. I'd say it's now on a par with Nashville run-of-the-mill, and pretty damn good.

The CFS was a bit odd, I thought, in that while it was meaty enough, the flavor was not much of beef but had a porky aftertaste, as though it had been fried in lard. It was also a bit chewy - not as in chunks-of-gristle chewy, but clearly a piece of meat you couldn't chew at all if it hadn't had the blisterin' bejayzus pounded out of it. The gravy was meaty and savory up to a point, but it and the meat suffered badly from Pann's reticence about using salt. I'm aware that most of their clientele is of an age closer to mine than to the citywide average, and we need to be monitoring our sodium intake, but a little salt added before cooking is more effective than a lot of salt added to the plate, especially if it's meat we're discussing. And this meat and gravy - and the otherwise OK mashed potatoes - needed a lot of salt.

What else? Only the rather boring Chef's Veg, not as boring as it used to be, but parboiled and blanched green beans and sliced carrot heated up with enough butter-like substance to give them a nice flavor, though again in dire need of some salt.

I will like to try the CFS again, next time as breakfast with eggs and stuff. The biscuits and the gravy are definitely worth further exploration. This was not dirt cheap; Pann's never is, but $20 including tax and tip is not bad at all. Oh, and the clan matriarch and I found we were both celebrating birthdays, though - ahem! - rather different ones, hers being her 92nd. Made me feel like a teenager, which I always enjoy...

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