A few hounds/SCARFers gathered at Panns yesterday evening for a bit of conviviality, having been suffering from cabin fever, lo these many moons on The Liquid Diet, I needed a break, and I wanted to be among some kindred souls, so I convinced the Mrs. to accompany me and Herman on a little chow expedition to The Big City.
Panns is my kind of place, it is what I would term a typical L.A. coffee shop/diner, and one of the last vestiges of the Googie school of architecture in L.A. I like the ambiance, I like the friendly, professional staff, and I like the food. This is good old comfort food from the U.S. of A. Nothing fancified here, no pretension, no mysteries. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with all of the wonderful bounty that is abundant in the greater L.A. area from across the border and across the sea, it is just saying that sometimes it is very soothing to have something that reminds you of the comfort of home and of an earlier time in your life.
First off, the table ordered about three plates of onion rings as a starter (I also learned when it was too late, that there were also fried oysters), and since Panns recently was discussed as one of the local havens for rings by that esteemed eater, Like-Go-Eat?, I was on a mission to validate his reporting. I am pleased to report that even though I was only able to snag about 2-1/2 rings, they were excellent. Thick cuts of onion, but not coated with, in my view, horrid beer batter, but a nice light, crispy batter. These I will definitely go back for.
The Mrs. opted for the Sunday special, turkey dinner, which comes with soup or salad, and had a good amount of real (this is significant) turkey breast, mashed potatoes, some stuffing, gravy, of course, and green beans and corn. She could not finish it all and offered it to me and this chowish character who was sitting next to me, but he was a gentleman and politely turned it down. I did manage to suppress the urge to scarf turkey (keeping in mind that I am on a restricted diet), but, in the interest of science and houndom, I did take a bite to get a taste. My initial reaction was that the turkey was bland. Upon reflection (and seriously getting hungry) later, I observed to the Mrs. that the reason the turkey tasted bland to me was (and this is the significant part) because it was REAL turkey breast, and probably not from some frozen matter, and it was NOT LOADED WITH SALT, just pure, unadulterated turkey.
The gentleman on the side of me opposite the Mrs. had a very nice looking plate overwhelmed by a lamb shank and an ocean of gravy. Three other diners at the table had lamb shanks last night, and my understanding is that they thought it was top notch, but I will leave it to them to report their findings.
I really wanted to order short ribs, meat loaf, salmon patties, onion rings and a burger, but, alas, I hewed to the diet plan and just ordered the salmon patties (fish being my primary protein source these days). I started with a salad with blue cheese dressing. The salad was nothing remarkable, the croutons (unlike everything else I experienced) tasted like they came out of a can, and I could not perceive any blue cheese taste, let alone any cheese crumbles, in the dressing. But this is just a mere quibble, given the overall experience. The salmon patties were not humongous, like some places are wont to do with their portions, they were respectable, and appropriate in size for someone who is actually keeping their portion sizes to what health professionals recommend. They were lightly breaded and fried, but there was absolutely no hint of grease on these nuggets. A nice, clean, salmon taste, reminiscent of Moms salmon patties, and thus very comforting. There was some sort of totally tasteless white sauce with them, I just took a taste, and that was enough to rule it out. The salmon melded perfectly with the squeezes of lemon juice I put on it. I tasted about a teaspoon of rice, and it was very good. I guess yesterdays veg side of the day was the green beans and corn kernels, which was fine, it was good, and it did not taste of either a can or a freezer. As a bonus the salmon patties came resting on a small bed of spinach, I love spinach, so this was perfect. Yeast rolls and corn bread muffins were passed. The muffins did not look so great, but the yeast rolls were wonderful, puffy, a nice egg wash glaze on top with a few sesame seeds, and warm and soft, like they just came out of the oven.
I have included some shots of the food with this posting. I would have taken shots of the other dishes, as I was strategically located at the end of the room where the service staff was entering with the food, so it would have been very easy to intercept plates and photograph them before they reached their final destination. I declined though, because then I would not have been able to resist the urge to take a little sample off of each plate that passed by me, so I hope the folks down at the other end of the table appreciated my sacrifice.
I have no idea what the total check was for this repast, but the prices were very reasonable. I leave it up to the lamb shank diners to comment, but I would think what they paid for their shanks is a far cry for what the same dish would cost in some local hoity-toity joint.
The Mrs. and I will definitely be returning to Panns when we are in that area, I would really like to take their breakfasts and burgers for a test drive.
6710 La Tijera Blvd.
At the confluence of La Tijera & La Cienega, half a block north of Centinella.
LA, CA 90045
(310) 670-1441 (323) 776-3770