We have been driving by the place for years, but the Mrs. never wanted to try it, probably because it was not all corporate chain, you know what to expect looking; nor is it bright, new, shiny, modern looking. Kind of a funky, fifties country cottage look, in a building that has definitely seen better days. Well the Mrs. was ferrying me from Chino over to Pasadena in Melanie this morning, on my way to check Herman out of his extended stay at the body shop, when at about Monrovia, breakfast seemed a better activity than the 210 traffic jam. So we are cruising along on Huntington Drive and as we approach the corner of Huntington and Mayflower the Mrs. says Do you want to try Le Roys? Quicker than the nanosecond that it took the old noggin to register that more and more houndliness is rubbing off on the Mrs., I replied, Sure.
A half block later we pull in to Le Roys parking lot and the Mrs. worries Melanie in to a diagonal parking space and we repair to the front entrance of this local gem. We noted that there was al fresco dining available behind the place at some picnic tables under patio umbrellas for some of the more hearty patrons.
As soon as we entered the front door we were greeted and informed that we could sit anywhere by a friendly waitress. Le Roys is open only for breakfast and lunch, and we hit it at the right time, a little after 8:00 A.M. on a weekday. Had we tried this at 8:00 A.M., or any other time on a Saturday or Sunday morning we would have been waiting for a table on sitting on benches, or simply standing in front of the establishment along with all of the Monrovia locals. Seating capacity is 40 people at the counter in the center of the restaurant and in the booths on both sides of the counter. On weekends the locals dont mind the wait out front. After we received our orders, I understood why.
The Mrs. ordered scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, sourdough toast and coffee. I ordered scrambled eggs, ham, hash browns, sourdough toast and coffee. We could have ordered cottage fries or home fries, sausage, pancakes, French (or should I say freedom) toast, waffles, or todays special, steak and eggs. There was more on the menu, I just dont remember it all. The lunch menu seemed to have all of the usual hot and cold sandwiches and other typical, simple diner food.
Sitting in this establishment, waiting for our order, the word diner stuck in my mind. While not built from an old railroad car, and not in any way evocative of the streamline modern school, or all dolled up like a fifties stage setting, this place really is close to the epitome of a diner experience one will find in Southern California.
The building itself seems to be an amalgamation of two or three buildings, showing its age, but kept up, with many coats of paint. It appeared that the grill station was behind a window at ground level, then there was a window from the grill in to the main kitchen, which was on a level a couple of feet higher. We sat in a booth that could actually accommodate my not inconsiderable bulk, with a planter box of very obviously plastic flowers as the divider between our booth and the dining area adjacent. His and her restroom keys hung on a hook, the restrooms were out the back door. While almost all of the waitresses are as old as or older than this early baby boomer, none of them have ever been near a Botox needle, and likely never will be. These people were warm hearted, friendly, efficient servers and they exuded character. The staff seems to know all of the regulars by name, and if you are a customer whos age is in the single digits, the cashier will have a Tootsie Pop for you when you leave.
I dont think it was more than five minutes after we gave our waitress the order when our breakfast was served. The scrambled eggs were first rate. These eggs were fresh, fluffy and not dried out or overcooked, something we dont normally see in the usual chains. My two eggs seemed like three eggs. The potatoes were very good, except part of my potatoes lost some of their crispiness, because of the massive hunk of ham on my plate. This piece of ham overwhelmed the plate. When the plate arrived at the table the ham covered a section of bare plate, two thirds of the hash browns, and was hanging over the side. I had to quickly slice the ham in half so that I could move some of it off the potatoes, and stack the remainder of the ham on top of itself. The ham was good, not overdone or dried out. I got a sample of the bacon, it was thick sliced and cooked to somewhere between chewy and crispy.
The coffee was very mellow and did not taste as if it had been simmering all day. The Mrs. who is a coffeeholic pronounced the coffee very good. I have had better sourdough toast, and it could have been toasted a tad more, but I am not going to quibble over that and we will be back to Le Roys many more times in the future.
Good, simple cooking and great value at $15.65 for the two of us, although we did not get any Tootsie Pops when we left.
Le Roys Highland Restaurant
523 W Huntington Dr
(Across the street from the Target shopping center.)
Monrovia, CA 91016-3236