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Thursday eats: Pann's and Tonny's

Will Owen | Apr 28, 200609:19 PM

Yesterday I had to run down to Manhattan Beach. An old buddy from Palo Alto has been visiting, so I took him along to help me with reading maps and taking notes, and also to introduce him to Pann's, into whose lot we pulled at 11:30. This being Thursday, I was hoping for my favorite Blackboard Special, the baked stuffed chicken (a HUGE boneless thigh, omigawd YUM), but was disappointed to see it nowhere. I also noticed that the biscuits looked really different, and the pea soup now has visible bits of carrot and ham, whereas it used to be simply a deep undifferentiated green...and it used to taste more purely of peas. When I asked about this, the waitress said, "Oh, we have a new chef...everything is different now." Now, this is not something I really wanted to hear, and while my friend's fried wings were as good as ever (though a few shades darker than before) and he loved the pea soup, I found both my liver and the gravy on my potatoes to be lacking in flavor...though I must say the (frozen) veges were as boring as before.

I'm almost afraid to try the grits and the chicken-fried steak now, though I have an obvious duty to do this space.

Last night the friend's kid was in a recital at Scripps College in Claremont, and we'd gotten a list of supposedly adequate restaurants out there. Alas, we came out of the recital hall a bit after 9:00 to find the sidewalks firmly rolled up and all the few eateries we checked to be dark, so we dashed back to urban civilization and checked in to Tonny's. It was almost 10:00 by then, and of course we should all have gotten something light, so naturally Mrs. O got the braised ribs, the friend got the birria, and I got the chiles rellenos plate, all huge platters of somewhat rich and intensely edible food. Even the rice was sinful. Friend David was especially in hog heaven, as there is apparently no longer any decent food of this kind available in his part of the Bay area. Yeah, the chips and salsa were just adequate and the tamarindo is weak and from a mix, but for ten bucks a head plus tip you can't beat it.

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