Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Mar 19, 2008 05:46 PM

Bake 'n Broil - Coffee shop nirvana

If you noticed two slightly over weight middle aged men fighting over a red velvet cupcake in the parking lot of the Carson Ikea this past Sunday afternoon, one of them was me. I needed a work table. My friend suggested Ikea. I knew they had a small cafe that served Swedish meatballs and a .99 cent breakfast 'til 11am. We arrived at 11:05. It being Sunday I thought brunch before the task at hand was in order. We drove east on Avalon, ended up on Long Beach Blvd. and somehow found ourselves in front of Bake 'n Broil on Atlantic Ave. twelve minutes after leaving Ikea. Even with a waiting crowd we snagged two seats at the front counter after only fifteen minutes more.

A recent response to my post on Tracht's in Long Beach cited B'nB as a more desirable and affordable option and I can see his point. Forgoing alcoholic beverage and a sassy setting, B'nB more than competes on the home cooking front and with all due respect to newer places attempting everything from waffles to grits, this place sets a standard that should be observed.

I ordered the country breakfast with crisp succulent sausage and fluffy biscuits that retained their slight crunch under a spicy gravy that had us invoking the memory of Edna Lewis. My friend had the crispy well seasoned chicken fried steak and eggs. Both came with some of the best hash browns ever. Sliced slightly thick they achieved that balance of potato, crunch and, yes, grease that makes it impossible to stop eating them. Two glasses of orange juice, one coffee and that red velvet cupcake to go brought our total to $20.46 before tip.

Service was of the "Come Back to the 5 'n Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" school which means that our sweet young waitress aptly refilled my coffee, recommended the lush looking lemon lush pie while reviewing the previous night's antics with a young male diner who was clearly interested in more than just Sunday brunch. As for the cupcake, I'm immediately adding it to the ongoing red velvet post while the dizzying array of pies, cakes and glistening cinnamon rolls will have us returning soon. (Oh, got a great table for $40 at Ikea... except that you have to put it together yourself.)

Bake 'n Broil
3697 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA
(562) 595-0396‎

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Anyone who grew up in the South or the Midwest might find the Bake 'n Broil lacking, although it's easy to be drawn to their homey vibe. I've never gone for breakfast, so I still have some hope.

    The Bake 'n Broil dinner menu looks promising, but food preparation is often amateurish or rushed (and I really hate seeing pots and trays of food sitting on the kitchen floor). The onion soup, for example, shows little evidence of the slow caramelizing that gives this simple dish depth and interest, and the few minutes they save by slicing the onions so thick cost a great deal in texture and appearance. Every time I order pork chops or pork loin I get a nicely flavored, tough piece of meat that needs another hour on the back-burner. (I often get take-out so that I can finish the cooking in my own kitchen.) The Swedish meatballs are good, if sometimes formed into a lumpy meatball "cake," and the accompanying baked potato (actually, steam-baked, because it's cooked in foil) helps complete a satisfying meal. Speaking of cakes, they're often quite good, especially the German Chocolate, as are the pies. But the long-gone Russell's hamburger joint that used to be down the street baked extraordinary meringue pies that are hard to forget in this neighborhood or life.

    5 Replies
    1. re: sbritchky

      I have had the baked potato at Bake 'n Broil (and many other restaurants) that use foil to wrap the potato for baking. Nothing to do with steaming, but instead they are ensuring that the potato skin is soft and edible (just the way I enjoy it since I always eat the skin too).

      1. re: Servorg

        Servog- It's certainly your prerogative to not only prefer foil wrapped baked potatoes but think the skins are only edible prepared that way, but they're in fact edible as long as they're cleaned. I really like the skins lightly rolled in some coarse salt and baked so the skins develop a thickness and texture with some bite/chewiness and kind of crispy. I side with vast majority of potato lovers who like a white fluffy insides achieved from losing most of its moisture, can't be done when foil wrapped, tastes sublime & divine, horrible when mushy from moisture.

        Glad I got that off my chest.

      2. re: sbritchky

        I totally agree with you. I've had my fair share of home-made red velvet, chicken fried steak and potroast in an earlier life. BnB is average coffee shop/diner food. I live near Bixby Knolls and I just don't understand the raving over this place. I will say in their defense that at least it's #1) affordable and #2) not pretentious at all. Long Beach has a few decent chain restaurants that serve equally good pies (Polly's and Hofs Hut).

        I did like cvc's review and enjoyed the image of the tussle over the cupcake, though.

        1. re: mlgb

          "average coffee shop/diner food" I take it that you are saying that B&B is your idea of standard, regular, common, run of the mill, ordinary ciffee shop food. Therefore you must have a long list of places that will make me that very good burger special on that great bun, drink and a slice of something half as good as that Lemon Luch pie for under $9. Actually I think you can't name one such place.

          1. re: JeetJet

            I listed two that make equally good pies. I find BnBs mains and sides very mundane. I didn't realize we were now talking about burgers, but most of the greasy spoon places around LB and Signal Hill and even chains like Ruby's will make a decent burger.

            Polly's Bakery Cafe aka Polly's Pies has a burger lunch combo for $7.99 with coupon. The bake their own buns, breads and pies, too.

            I'd rather have their oven-roasted turkey breast on walnut-raisin bread and some strawberry shortcake or a fresh ollalieberry pie in season.

            BTW they also do chicken fried steak.

            And their cinnamon roll french toast is to die for.

      3. a palce to add to my "go to" breakfast list! Thanks!

        1. Nice post. Glad you had a great meal and found your table as well. If anyone noticed a slightly over weight middle aged man A few weeks ago standing in line at B&B while reporting a hit & run to the owner of the car, calling L.B.P.D., and ordering lemon lush and banana cream pies and a few Red Velvet cupcakes to-go, that was me.

          B&B has the best pie crust in L.A.!. Next time you must try the “Lemon Lush Pie.” -- a few crunchy crushed pecans or walnuts on top of the best pie crust in town, the nuts are topped with a layer of sweetened cream cheese followed by a layer of lemon and then it is all topped with fresh whipped cream. The banana cream pie is also a masterpiece with fresh slices of banana and topped with that wonderful whipped cream. The moist Red Velvet is a sexy naughty crimson topped with a creamy white frosting that takes the cake beyond suggestive -- it is provocative! The place is open for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. I love that Chicken Fried Steak. Next time I will try the chicken pot pie, The Burger special includes a very good burger patty on a fresh bakery bun, a drink and a slice of pie which IMO is better than Pie & Burger or the Apple Pan. I agree that the prices are very reasonable at B&B and much lower than the other places.

          “Coffee shop nirvana” is almost how I would describe the place. Really great food and desserts in a cottage ambiance filled with a cross-section of L.A. If B&B added a hammock room so you could rest between meals then it would be my idea of Coffee shop nirvana. (Oh, we gave the P.D. the plate # and the older gentlemen who owned the hot red Mustang that got smashed out back returned to his meal saying, “I am not going to let this ruin my breakfast.”

          3697 Atlantic Ave (North of 405 – corner of 37th st.)
          Long Beach, CA 90807
          (562) 595-0396

          13 Replies
          1. re: JeetJet

            if Jongewaard's Bake N Broil has the "best pie crust in LA", i don't ever want to see the worst.

            previous discussion on how the Red Velvet Cake is over-rated:

            and here:

            this joint serves boring, mundane, expensive, over-portioned American food.

            1. re: TonyC

              Yep! The "best pie crust in LA" The food is great! Please.... You Hounds that try something that nobody else mentioned before (Bean soup?, apple pie?, bla bla bla.) Stick to what has been mentioned before on this board. The Chicken Fried Steak is vwery good. The apple pie is not their best pie. Maybe just trey something that several Hounds have reported as good. If that don't work then maybe it is that you have "Special" taste.

              1. re: JeetJet

                JeetJet- "Thanks" to you and other recommenders- I tried the CFS at BnB, once. The coating was sooo thin pieces of the coating had fallen off before it got to me and it wasn't at all crispy let alone crunchy. The meat was watery. Biscuit was just ok and dry. Veggies were uneventful My wife had chicken and it was the first time both us only finished less than 1/2 our meals at a resto. The fresh peach pie filling was very good but the crust to filling ratio was way too lopsided in favor of the filling. Most of the crust was undone but the part which was (the edge) was very good. Again that's my exp - 1 visit.

                1. re: ilikefood

                  Sorry you were not happy. From what you say I think I know what you want in CFS. Maybe more of a dipped and fried in deep oil rather than griddled or pan fried in a little oil. I like them both ways but if you can give me another chance on a rec try driving over to San Pedro and get in line at Pacific Diner. My sons and I have been eating our way through the breaakfest menu (maybe four Sunday morning visits in the last several months) and have been happy every time with only one devided vote -- the fried pork chops. My daughter-in-law loves them but my wife feels they are on the thin side. IMO, my wife is correct. But about that CFS, I have had it twice and will have it again. The batter is thicker than B&B style and it is cooked to a crispy golden brown. I think you might like it. One of my sons tried the chicken fried chciken cutlet with eggs and liked it very much. It looks just like the CFS. The John Wayne Special is also good. The sausage or bacon is good also. Try the salsa.

                  This place has three ways to be seated. A really close front room at the street that is really just counter seating. In the rear you can sit inside at tables or booths or outside in the patio. Yeah, give this place a try for the CFS. Otherwise you might have to drive to the Pines in Palmdale, Harris Ranch up the 5 (NY strip for a CFS) or maybe down to Temecula at the Swing Inn.

                  Pacific Diner
                  3821 S. Pacific Avenue
                  San Pedro, CA 90731

                  1. re: JeetJet

                    JeetJet- Thks for response and recommendation. Ideally CFS should be fresh made and fried in cast iron skillet. Google "authentic chicken fried steak" and you'll find recipes matching my ideal at the top of list.

                    1. re: ilikefood

                      You are correct and again I think you might like Pacific Diner. However, several Hounds posted about The Pines having a good CFS and that got me to try it. I have stopped there several times since then when "goin out thata way." They serve a frozen & pre-battered CFS and it compares very well with some of the best I have had (CA n' TX). The cook knows about CFS and cast iron pans but told me his costomers like the frozen version best. That debate is like the fresh vs. frozen french fry debate and I admit that I did not believe it was frozen until he admitted it to me. This is not a regular frozen steak but rather a gourmet high-end CFS steak and that is why it is so good. The Pines also has the best bacon I have had at a place to eat and makes very good breakfest burritos also. If you get within 30 miles of the place you might consider it as well. Not a fancy place but a true hole-in-the-wall / highway shack with very good chow.

                      The Pines

                      1. re: JeetJet

                        And another good local example (if gas prices are making The Pines a bit of a financial stretch right now) for CFS would be Gaffey Street Diner. They also have wonderful freshly made biscuits with sausage with house made white gravy and 2 eggs. Now I'm making myself hungry!

                        Gaffey Street Diner
                        247 N Gaffey St (at W Santa Cruz St)
                        San Pedro 90731

                        1. re: Servorg

                          I have never had the CFS at Gaffey St. Diner but have had those great biscuits with sausuge gravy several times -- maybe the best in L.A. Now you are mak'in me hungry but I am heading East this morning to the Bass Pro Shop w/ my oldest boy. Therefore, it will be Flo's for breakfast. But I will try that CFS at Gaffey -- Thanks for the heads-up.

                          Flo’s Airport Cafe (At the Chino airpot.Chicken Fried Steak, Fried porkchops and eggs and outstanding biscuits with gravy)
                          7000 Merrill Ave., Bldg. 8
                          Chino, CA 91710
                          (909) 597-3416

                          Chino Airport on Merrill Ave. east of Euclid. From the 60 go South on Euclid. From the 71.go north

                          1. re: JeetJet

                            Update on Flo's. We went today about 10:30 am and both had the CFS. The batter fall off here-and-there and some of it wasn't real crispy. On the other hand the flavor of the steak was a very true beef flavor. My son (He makes a great CFS) felt that the great flavor of the steak was because it was a good fresh steak. It reminded me of the flavor in a rich Flat Iron steak. It would have been better without the "chicken fried" style. The basted eggs were perfect. The pork Chops at the counter seat next to me looked perfect as always.

              2. re: TonyC

                It could be hit and miss, but I thought the Bake N' Broil Red Velvet Cupcake, was not only really good Red Velvet, but also one of the most moist cupcakes I've ever had --and that was after sitting out for probably 4 hours before we ate them. I just had to plug that, because I've been disappointed by red velvet, and cupcakes at some of the other popular places.

                1. re: debra

                  The Chocolate cake and the Red Velvet has been very fresh and very moist every time I have bought them and that has been at least twenty times over the last year.I have bought the large cakes, small square cakes and the cupcakes. No matter what size they bake it is moist every time I have bought them. The resason I buy them so much is not because I eat them myself but because they (especially the Red Velvet) have become my calling card when visitng several relatives. I use to buy cupcakes at other popular places mentioned on this board but every person that I have given B&B cakes to has asked "please" for more telling me they are the most moist cake they have ever had. I do like the cakes myself but what I get for ME is those pies "To-go" after eating breakfast or lunch there. I have not had dinner there but those dinner specials written on the board each time I have been there are starting to get my attention.

                2. re: TonyC

                  I would never think of B&B as over-portioned. In fact I've always thought they serve "normal" size dinners, unlike the "claimjumperfication" found so in so many other restaurants. I've had many red velvets, and they always seem so dry to me. (especially Sweet Jill's, whose other options are great) B&B's red velvet is just really moist and flavorful. The pie crusts are incredibly flaky, but I'm not a fan of "the best pie in Long Beach" (according to Press Telegram), the lemon lush. I think it would be great w/o the pecans, but that's just me.

                  Down the street, Cafe Bixby does basics much better in my opinion, plus they have monte cristo sandwiches on the menu. But if I'm in the mood for cake, I'm headed to Bake & Broil.

                  1. re: Oh Robin

                    P.S. I have encountered some snooty service at B&B from time to time, but from the owners and management, not servers. There is certainly a sense of pride there that borders on arrogance.

              3. and so the bnb backlash begins. i suppose it was inevitable. i've lived in long beach for more than 15 years. have eaten regularly at polly's, cafe bixby, hof's hut and the old russell's on atlantic. sorry, but to say that those compare to bnb is just crazy talk. certainly, not everything there is good. i would never order the pork loin or pork chops--they're going to be dry, just like most places. i would never order the fish. but the things they do well--the cfs, the fried chicken, the chicken pot pie, the hamburgers, the breakfasts, the cakes and the pies--they do so much better than anyone else. there is no comparison between a hand-rolled bnb crust and a freezer crust from polly's.

                again, it's not fine dining and it doesn't charge like it. but coffee shop nirvana is a pretty good description, and there's nothing wrong with that.

                1 Reply
                1. re: FED

                  More praise for BnB' CFS. Would someone please let me know if the CFS I received is the norm, with a coating so thin some of it is lost and it could never be crispy let alone crunchy. There's a reason it's called CHICKEN FRIED steak.