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Oct 31, 2008 04:25 PM

Can't get an egg white omelet at Joan's on Third [moved from LA]

Being in the neighborhood this morning, and having read about the great food at Joan's on Third, I decided to go there for breakfast this morning. I first perused the shop and was quite impressed (overwhelmed!) by all the gourmet products and fresh take-out.

I went to the counter and ordered an omelet, asking as I always do that it be egg-white-only, please. The friendly girl working there apologized that "she" (this was referring to someone other than herself) only makes omelets with whole eggs. I think the implication was that egg white omelets don't taste as good. The girl tried to steer me to alternate menu items, but I was in the mood for eggs and besides that I think I was too shocked to stay.

This is the first restaurant I have EVER been in that has refused to make an omelet with egg whites or egg substitute. Have you encountered this anywhere else? I'm especially surprised in health-conscious L.A. (Just so you know I'm not being wilfully difficult, I have high cholesterol and therefore avoid whole eggs as much as possible.)

Also, do you know who was the "she" that the employee was referring to-- would that be Joan?

I don't think I'll be going back to Joan's, not even for the good-looking bakery items or cheese. A place with a "we don't do egg whites" attitude is a little too much for me.

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  1. Why is this unreasonable? If it's not on the menu, then I wouldn't expect they'd do it. I'm probably alone, but I kind of respect them for standing up to the request, since yeah, to me at least, they taste pretty different, and plus are sort of annoying to make if you're starting from fresh eggs.

    I'm always asking for substitutions, and plenty of places say "sorry, no substitutions" on the menu, so when I see that, I don't bother. Maybe suggest they write that on the menu, since people do love a good egg white around here!

    1 Reply
    1. re: cant talk...eating

      I see very little difference in making an egg white omelette than a whole egg omelette. Separating the white from a whole egg is easier than opening a bottle of wine. I think it is pretty much very unreasonable. They are in West Hollywood, health and figure conscious central. I would imagine they get this request on a very regular basis, regular enough that the woman at the counter knows without asking that the answer will be no.

      I find it ridiculous.

    2. I suspect that for the proprietor it might be a matter of principle, not "attitude", like a restaurant's refusing to do tofu burgers or soy dogs. Many egg lovers have had bad experiences with egg substitutes and assume they're all equally nasty, and would rather go eggless than do whites only. On the other hand, why would you avoid an egg and yet still have any interest in cheeses and pastry?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        Cheese-- my boyfriend likes good cheese and if I buy some for him, I'm not averse to a nibble or two

        Pastries-- well, one has to indulge once in a while... :)

        1. re: Will Owen

          Why try to make her justify her diet or request, or put her on the defensive. There are so many reasons for choices, tastes, and priorities.

        2. I suspect it's more because of the inconvenience of having to separate the eggs. Many restaurants have a vat of beaten eggs (sometimes with some fat or other grease mixed in) ready each morning. When an omelet is ordered, they only have to ladle out the appropriate measure of beaten egg. Separating eggs thus creates an extra step which can slow down the kitchen on a busy morning. I'm not excusing the behavior; I think an egg white omelet is a reasonable request - just trying to explain it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: CynD

            While I agree with the need to watch the cholestrol and other health issues, wouldn't it be a size and cost issue? For instance if they make all omelets with 3 whole eggs, wouldn't the whites only from 3 omelets be smaller, thereby using 2 more eggs to make up the size? Also wouldn't it cost them more to make it whites only, unless they saved the yokes for something else or they can always charge the customer more...

            There is a place I go to for burritos, I don't care for rice on my burritos, so I've asked them to hold the rice. One time the cashier wanted to charge us the meat only price plus extra bean which was a few bucks more then a regular burrito, hold the rice. .

            1. re: Cinnabon

              I'd like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.


              1. re: millions

                hahaha! I don't even have to click on the link to reply

                "You want me to hold the chicken, huh? "...

            2. re: CynD

              Very Good Point Cindy, Also if the Eggs are already batched the restaurant runs the risk of a under skilled cook getting shells in the omelette.

              And you also run the risk of having dealt with an ignorant cashier. It is really tough to find good help for non tip FOH positions.

              You might want to call and give it one more try. I find it very hard to believe that with the clientele they serve that they do not offer an egg white option.

              1. re: CynD

                cynD, from my perspective, is correct...having at one time to be the shortorder cook executing an egg white omelet, in addition to going through the separation and aeration to get the right "omelet" consistency ( you can't just whisk and pour), the general consistency of egg whites alone make them "stickier" than a regular yolk/white consistency ...bottom line for shortorder cooks is it takes a bit more baby-sitting of a whites-only omelet, vs. the standard egg mix where you can, to some degree, walk away and do other things knowing that in a minute it will still be fine, and ready to plate. whites only are are little bit less accommodating. and as much as it may seem reasonable to ask, if they don't serve it, well... go elsewhere. (p.s. re location - Joan's on Third is really not West Hollywood, it's Los Angeles, ...kinda feel like i know as i issued some of their use permits).

              2. Alot of restaurants are now not changing anything from their menu. I went to Le Pain Quitoitien(spelling). Anyway hubby and I heard that they made a great egg salad, so we decided to try it. We ordered it, but we wanted a different bread, they would not substitue the bread. We were told it comes from corporate, and no changes are ever made. Said the item would not taste right. We couldn't believe it and left. We have also heard that the pizza place Terroni will not make substitutions. In this day of economic hardship, I want to order what I want as long as it is reasonable. Changing a bread is reasonable. Times are hard and I choose where I want to eat, and I want to go somewhere my business is appreciated.

                9 Replies
                1. re: paprkutr

                  In Regards to Le Pain Quotidien. You can order a side of egg salad and a side of whatever bread you like for about the same price if not less. The Founder of Le Pain Quotidien still designs the menu and he would like you to enjoy the food the way he designed it. You can substitute Spelt Bread for the Wheat. The Le Pain Baguette does not make a good sandwich bread (too crispy) it is better eaten with the hazelnut spread all over it.

                  1. re: 420 Reasons to eat

                    But I like the Baguette, so why shouldn't I be able to have it on the bread I want without having to order sides of everything. I like crispy bread, that's why I won't go there. Everyone has there own tastes, and all I was asking for was a different bread, not telling them to remake the egg salad without certain items in it. It was only bread.

                    1. re: paprkutr

                      An appreciation of "Gallic culture" may be helpful in understanding the attitude at LPQ. The French (and, in this case, Belgian French) do not have a strong tradition of "having it your way". I think the attitude can be best summarized as: "we are culinary professionals who have used our talent and hard work into creating our menu, and we hope you will respect that". Unfortunately I think the LPQs in LA fall short on execution compared to their counterparts in Europe.

                      1. re: Peripatetic

                        when in France or Belgium I appreciate and abide politely by their cultural norms. However, this is not europe and in harsh economic times, several restaurants in this thread have lost customers due to stubborness and an unwillingness to run their business according to our cultural norms. There is a price to pay, and I can only assume in an intelligent and well thought out cost benefit analysis, the price is worth it.

                        1. re: lotta_cox

                          I agree with you that "this is not Europe". I think the "have it our way" attitude is justifiable only if the food on offer is truly excellent. In my experience the food at LPQ in LA is middling at best (in Brussels and London it's better).

                    2. re: 420 Reasons to eat

                      I agree that the chef has the right to decide how the food is (or is not) served, but saying that "he would like you to enjoy" the food a certain way is either a euphemism for "he wants you to have" the food a certain way, or an assertion that he's a culinary idealist. Obviously if the food is always served exactly as the chef designed it, some people will not "enjoy" it, because the variance in human physiology and psychology guarantees that not everyone's taste will coincide with his--no matter how much he believes it should. He's evidently decided that he can run a viable business without those customers; and as long as there are many other places to eat at the same price point, I can't argue with that.

                      1. re: Miss Priss

                        I'm curious about why the qualification of "as long as there are many other places to eat at the same price point." If there weren't however many of those someone thinks necessary then the chef (owner, what-have-you) shouldn't be able to serve their food as they wish and suffer the consequences of customers choosing not to eat there?

                        1. re: ccbweb

                          Good question. I was responding to a post that was specifically about Le Pain Quotidien, so my point was that I could easily go elsewhere for that type of thing. Agreed, the chef has no obligation whatsoever to change his practices just because there's a lack of competition. (Well, I guess I could concoct a scenario in which he might ... but it would involve government funding, a public-service mission, and other conditions that seem very remote from this discussion.) That being said, if I had no other options, and really couldn't deal with the existing menu, I'd probably try to persuade the chef to be flexible--without necessarily expecting to succeed!

                          1. re: Miss Priss

                            Thanks for the great response! I was thinking along the lines of your parenthetical musing there and wondered whether you were asserting that sort of thing. I'm quite glad that you weren't! (Though tickled that someone else thought of such a thing.)

                            And to the last point....exactly, no harm in asking.

                  2. I respect that the chef is an artist and would like us to experience his art as he envisioned it. However, we live in an on-demand, Starbucks-style-customization world where, for better or worse, people expect to get what they want when and how they want it. The art argument is a bit like the musicians who complain that people buying single tracks on iTunes are missing the experience of the unified album.

                    I do understand that an egg white only omelet is more work, but that's why restaurants usually charge $1-2 more for the extra effort (and wasted yolks).

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: avivale

                      If I were the chef I'd say great! Free yolks for hollandaise. although maybe they don't have eggs benedict.

                      1. re: hsk

                        that's what I was thinking, too. there are typically more uses for an excess of egg yolks than egg whites, depending on the kind of establishment, tho.

                      2. re: avivale

                        As an egg-white-omelet aficionado, I sympathize with your frustration; but you seem to be arguing that because the on-demand ethos has become so pervasive, a business that doesn't adopt it is somehow doing something morally wrong. Or maybe you're primarily arguing that restaurants that don't customize their products are making a bad business decision. Whichever it is, both arguments seem futile to me. If I don't like a restaurant's stated policies, but the place isn't misleading me, doing anything illegal, or causing some major social harm, I don't eat there, and that's the end of it. If a restaurant's business model isn't to my liking, same response. Either way, the loss is theirs.

                        1. re: avivale

                          "The art argument is a bit like the musicians who complain that people buying single tracks on iTunes are missing the experience of the unified album."

                          Which is a totally valid position to take. I certainly have more respect for the few artists who refuse to abide by the single-track purchasing lunacy (yes, they do exist).

                          Similarly I have a lot of respect for restaurants that limit substitutions. Swapping out sides, removing toppings, levels of rareness: those things I can reasonably expect accommodation on. But, actually changing how a composed item is made, that is a bridge too far in my book.

                          1. re: Atahualpa

                            Musicians or chefs certainly have every right to make up any rules they please. Just like I, the consumer, have the same right to choose not to purchase their product.

                            But really I don't want to come across angry or negative. Regarding the musicians-- I do sympathize with their dilemna. If I put in all that work, I'd want people to listen to my entire album too. But they have to ask themselves if it's worth fighting the public's wish to buy just one or two songs... or work with the state of things as it is.

                            Back to the egg white omelets, I was just taken completely by surprise at Joan's-- this is the first restaurant I've encountered in L.A. that doesn't do egg whites. Which was why I wanted to find out if other people have had similar experiences elsewhere.