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Sep 12, 2007 05:19 AM

Friendly small-town service in SoCal.

Are there any stories of good food mixed with friendly service?
Here's my two:

1) Pie n Burger ( Pasadena)
OK. While my girlfriend is crazy about the burgers and I'm not . . .
And I'm crazy about the pies and she's not . . .
And sometimes the waitress service can be inconsistent . . .
Pie n Burger is one of the best places in Southern California.
I called on Friday and asked for some fresh peach pie, the best pie in the world, IMHO.
The waitress said, "Honey, what's a matter with you. You're about two weeks late"
I said, "Ugh. I'm sad that I have to wait until next year."
The waitress then said, "Hmmm.... Let me talk to the people in back and see what I can do."
About three minutes later, the lady comes back and says, "We're going to get one more crate of peaches. Just give me your name, and we'll save a whole pie for you."
So as summer winds to a close, I get to enjoy a few more days of fresh peach pie from Pie n Burger.
So for all you nay sayers, Pie n Burger is a down home friendly joint in the dog-eat-dog restaurant world of Southern California.

2) Gaja Restaurant. (Lomita)
Gaja is one of the hidden gems of Southern California.
I hosted a church gathering of about 16 people.
The manager was so happy that our gathering was there that he gave us an order of bouillabaise and an order of risotto carbonara-style on the house. The bowls were so huge that we got about 15-20 tureen size ladles out from these bowls. With the ten okonomiyaki, the mochi pizza, the kim chee fried rice, their awesome fried chicken and the lychee sorbet, we paid probably $12 a person. It was one of the best group dinners ever.

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  1. Southern California restaurants offer many examples of friendly but goofy or otherwise bumbling service. I'd love to hear about down-home places where the service is both friendly and competent and provided by most of the dining room staff, not just some warm-hearted employee here and there. I'll keep the motor running in my car.

    1. I'll add Richmond Street Bar and Grill in El Segundo. "The Gundo" itself definitely has a small town vibe to it, and Richmond is one of those classic small town watering holes with great sandwiches and burgers and schooners of beer.

      In fact, I'm heading there later tonight for their semi-annual Cigar Night.

      Richmond Bar & Grill
      145 Richmond St, El Segundo, CA 90245

      1. Il Tiramisu has the best service I have ever experienced. The owners are there every night, always on the floor and meeting the diners, making sure things run smoothly. They ensure they have a staff that has a similar dedication to "the cutomer is king/queen". Whatever I ask, they always manage to figure out a way to do it. He will waive his $5 corkage at the drop of a hat and adapt the menu to any preference, allergy or whim.

        Last time we were there, they happily gave me extra ravioli at no cost waived corkage, and treated me as a queen. They have also allowed me to roder a different dish for a pre fixe meal, no questions asked (I did ask if I could do that AHEAD mind you). At a business lunchoen Iput together, they brought me my diet soda in an ice bucket and pured for me when my glass was empty. made quite the impression on my boss.

        I experienced similar service at Boneyard Bistro. They just were so eager to make our meal nice, but weren't overbearing. At my request, they kept the cornbread coming, brought out a sample of brisket, unasked, made my BBQ burrito with beans instead of meat or shrooms (beans were not a menu option, but when I asked, they said "what the heck, why not?") They just were wonderful.

        A waiter at Angeli Caffe made a blunder and fixed it in a spectacular fashion. I am allergic to nuts, and let him know beofre ordering. We ordered the beet salad as an appetizer. He brought it out. Two bites in, he comes out white as a sheet and tells me that there are ground up walnuts all through the beet salad. He asks me what to do. Quickly, my husband asks for endless glasses of coke, which are eagerly brought, and asks me if I have my Epi-pen. Oops..other purse. Do I have antihistamine? Oop, used the last one. I felt like a twit. The waiter asks what brand would be good. I say "actifed" and he's off like a shot. something like 3 minutes later, as I start to feel it (and have downed two cokes-caffine helps) he comes back with a box. The guy had run all the way to a drugstore. I don't even know where he must have gone..but he got there on foot really fast. I downed as big a dose as I safely could.

        That's service. Angeli is like that. Other places have served me nuts after being informed, and then tried to get out of any responsibility in a number of ways-one place even tried to convince me that almonds weren't nuts.

        I also found the service at Chez Mimi to be wonderful, as well as the Lobster, Rahel Vegetarianand Woodlands Pure.

        Good Service is one of my criteria for fine dining.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Diana

          I have had a similar experience at Il Tiramisu. The father and son owners are wonderful. The food is delicious. It is a hidden gem in So Cal.

          I love Pie 'N Burger too. There is one waitress there who reminds me of my husband's grandmother. She has a fun, sassy personality.

        2. I love the service at Warszawa in Santa Monica. All the wait staff is so great about remembering me from one visit to the next, even down to remembering my drink order (and I've only dined here, maybe, four times!) and I love the home-cooked feel of the food. I imagine this is what it would be like to dine at my Polish grandmother's house if I had one.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mollyomormon

            That entire space in fact definitely feels like a house -- was it one originally?

            1. re: SauceSupreme

              I assume that it was at some point, but probably long before you or I were around!