Did I miss something at Pie n' Burger?
I know this place is a CH favorite, so I'm bracing myself for the angry retaliation. However, reading so many rave reviews of this place really motivated me to go and try it myself. I was warned that this place was a little pricy for a burger, but I had no idea how much. I ordered a cheeseburger and an ice cream soda, my husband had a cheeseburger as well, a soda, and we split an order of fries. We walked out of there spending almost $25 for that. That's without pie, too. We left thinking, the meal was okay, but totally not worth what we paid for. Ambiance wasn't all that either. So am I a cheapskate, or did I totally miss something about it?
I agree with you; I've been totally underwhelmed by both the pie and the burger. It's just a typical countertop joint like you'd find in any small town, that most people would be dying to escape from.
I've also been disappointed with other so-called classics like Apple Pan and Phillipe's, for similar reasons. There is this bizarre mystique which is completely out of proportion to anything real.
I think the best burger in Pasadena is actually at Jake's.
Pie, on the other hand, seems to be a lost art.
re: Key Lime Guy
I'm underwhelmed by Pie n' Burger as well. Pie n' Burger is a decent hamburger the same way In-n -Out is a decent hamburger. Simple, nothing fancy, cooked to order. The difference is Pie 'n Burger costs $5.15. $0.25 more if you want cheese on that. Yes, they hand mix their soda. That's nice and nostagic. But the glasses are tiny and filled 3/4th the way with crushed ice, and you get *1* refill. At In-n-Out, you can go back to the fountain as much as you want. Is Pie n' Burger's hambuger better than In-n-Out's? I can't honestly say yes.
I'm going to expose myself to the flames also. But Pie N Burger is affected by something I call Emperor's New Clothes Syndrome. The reputation build and builds, and when you try it, you're not quite sure why it deserves the rep, but you're afraid of making an opposing thought. So you agree with the rest of the mob. And the cycle continues.
I'm a Pie 'n Burger partisan, although, since I don't live in L.A., I'm not on top of what is happening (I have to say, though, that the food has been remarkably consistent, in my experience, over the past 30 years). That said, I'm not sure you ordered the best items.
I happen to agree with you that the burgers at Pie 'n Burger are "only" very good. I don't think anyone has ever argued that their fries are special. Here, in order, are my favorite things at Pie 'n Burger. Note that the first two are not available all year long, for obvious reasons:
1. Fresh peach pie
2. Ollaloberry pie (especially w/ice milk)
3. Banana "cream" pie (served with meringue; if asked, they will scrape off the meringue and replace it with whipped cream, for a price)
4. Fountain Coke
5. Cinnamon rolls (breakfast only)
6. Milk shakes (made with lowfat ice cream -- these are not rich, Haagen-Dazs style milk shakes)
7. Patty melt
8. Hash browns
9. Other assorted pies, some of their pies are way too sweet for my taste.
I haven't tried Pie n' Burger but had intended to the next time I am in Pasadena based on what has been said on this board. Now am not so sure.
I not surprised, however, at your check. I often find hamburgers priced at $8 or $9 in L.A., and sometimes that doesn't even include cheese, and you pay extra for sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions, etc. With tax and tip you are already pretty close to $25 without a drink. HOWEVER, I don't mind the price if it means a substantially better dining experience than what you would encounter in a fast food joint. A larger, well prepared, better quality patty, REAL cheese, good to excellent fries, or even a choice of garlic mashed potatoes or salad instead of fries, a comfortable, clean, attractive environment and good service justify the price to me. For my money, I've found that level of hamburger experience at Library Ale House on Main Street in Santa Monica.
My wife is a Pasadena native and Pie 'n Burger was a local hangout/institution, I ate there once, and that was probably 10 years ago and I have no desire to go back. I think it is the nostalgia that people have for the place, just brings back memories of a bygone era, and those memories are selective.