REVIEW w/pics: Tasty Comfort Food at Jongewaard's Bake~N~Broil
- pleasurepalate Mar 3, 2009 12:41 PM
One of the nice things about having worked in Long Beach for a year was being able to check out restaurants that may either be known primarily by locals or I may have heard good things about, but didn't want to make the drive from the Eastside to check it out. One such restaurant which actually fit both categories was Jongewaard's Bake 'n Broil. One of the first things I did on the job was to Google Bake 'n Broil to see how far it was from my office and lo and behold, it was a short two-block walk away. It was fate.
The little I knew about Bake 'n Broil at the time was that they were known for their chicken pot pie, dessert pies and red velvet cupcakes. I also read that it wasn't a fancy place and more like a diner/coffee shop. I've never been much of a pie or red velvet cake kind of person and although I did want to try the chicken pot pie, I didn't have any overwhelming desire to visit until 3 months later when I was craving soup. In my head, a diner went hand in hand with good soup, so off I went to Bake n' Broil.
When I walked in, I noticed a large counter top area with stools to the left and booth seating to the right and behind the counter. At the time, I didn't know that there was also a small back room area. After reading through the menu, I opted for a half roast beef sandwich on squaw bread with a cup of navy bean and ham soup. With everything I heard about the pies, I knew I wanted to see what the fuss was all about and went all in with a coconut cream pie. For my first time at the Bake n' Broil, I'd say 2/3 of my meal was pretty good.
The 1/3 that was disappointing was the roast beef sandwich. A sandwich is only as good as its fillings and unfortunately, the roast beef wasn't up to par. It was chewy and it was hard biting a piece out of it and making sure that the whole thing wouldn't come out of the sandwich and hang from your mouth.
As for the soup, the bowl was a little messy in that the soup was just sloshed into the bowl. I think the edges of the bowl could have been cleaned off a little bit because while I prefer good tasting food over pristine presentation, the soup didn't look that appealing to eat when I first saw it. However, it hit the ball out of the park when it came to everything else. It was thick, hearty and with beautiful chunks of ham that imparted a subtle smoky flavor to the soup. I could have easily done without the sandwich and just ate a big bowl of this soup as my entree.
The meal ended on a wonderful note with the slice of my coconut cream pie. I mentioned earlier that I'm not much of a pie person because often times I don't like the crust. It's either too hard and/or too thick and most times, I'll eat the filling and leave the crust behind. After taking my first bite out of my pie, I could definitely see why people rave about the pies at Bake n' Broil. The crust was wonderfully light and flaky, unlike any pie crust I've ever had. I also appreciated that the pie filling wasn't overly sweet and that it tasted fresh and almost custard-like. Other than the roast beef sandwich, my first dining experience at Bake n' Broil was a thumbs up.
I even brought back some red velvet cupcakes to share with my co-workers. Those cupcakes were wonderfully moist, even after sitting in the fridge for a couple days since I had forgotten I put them there.
With Bake n' Broil being so close by, I definitely made subsequent visits and tried a few more menu items. When I went for a second vsit, I noticed the "Specials Board" that I missed from my first visit and saw the chicken pot pie along with some other options. It was one of those other options that caught my eye and it was the baked spaghetti. Who in their right mind could resist that? It's comfort food at its best and it didn't disappoint. They even cut the spaghetti so that you wouldn't have to be slurping these long strands and without a doubt, all the gooey melted cheese on top of the noodles was really what did it for me.
Of course, I had to have a slice of pie and this time it was the Lemon Lush. Again, the pie crust was just as good as the first time. The meringue was light and fluffy and the lemon filling was the right balance of sweet and tart.
At my last visit to Bake n' Broil, I started with a cup of their split pea soup. I liked how they used different types of bread as the croutons, but they were really hard, even after mixing them with the soup. As for the split pea soup, I thought it was good, if not really memorable.
This time around, I ordered the chicken pot pie. When it arrived, just its sheer size meant it could have been easily shared by two people. I ended up taking half of it home. While a little thicker than the dessert pies, the crust for this savory pie was actually still pretty flaky and even puffed up like a puff pastry. I mention the puffing up of the pie shell because when I broke my spoon into it, it was interesting to note the empty gap between the pie shell and the filling which settled towards the bottom.
When I had my first taste of that filling, I enjoyed the chunky vegetables and the thickness and creaminess of the soup. One thing that I would have changed was the cut size of the chicken. They were a little big. You either had to fork it and bite a piece off or cut it with your fork in the soup itself. That ruins the whole idea of a chicken pot pie for me. If the chicken were in smaller pieces, they would be enjoyed better when part of a spoonful of soup and veggie. Other than the chicken thing, that chicken pot pie was pretty good.
My final pie at Bake n Broil was the strawberry pie. That was definitely a thing of beauty. The red strawberry pie came to me on a green plate and reminded me of Christmas. I loved how the strawberries were quite generous in size and although I sound like a broken record, the crust was awesome. Of the three dessert pies I tried, the strawberry pie was actually my least favorite, simply because it was too sweet and I'm talking sugary sweet. If they had cut back a little on the sugar, it would have been my favorite. For those of you who have more of a sweet tooth, the strawberry pie as it was, may be just the thing for you.
Overall, I really enjoyed my meals at Jongewaard's Bake 'n Broil. They offer delicious comfort food at reasonable prices and man, those pies. I really miss those pies. Their service was always quick and attentive and you could tell that it's definitely a neighborhood restaurant with the owners calling out greetings to their regulars by name and you could even tell that many of the diners knew each other. Bake 'n Broil is like a diner version of "Cheers." Unfortunately, I no longer work in Long Beach, so I haven't been back in awhile, but for those of you who do live and/or work in that part of town, I really recommend that you check this place out, even if only for a slice one of their fantastic pies.
Jongewaard's Bake 'n Broil
3697 Atlantic Ave
Long Beach, CA 90807
Nice review, pleasurepalate. If you do get back, you might try a Tuesday night, when the Swedish meatballs are on special (at least when I was last there -- recently, Pann's biscuits have been my siren song). I know you're a pie person, but the German chocolate cake is also very good.
On the chicken pot pie (served extremely hot -- be careful not to burn your pizza palate): yes, fine crust. The dish would be even better if they pre-cooked the chicken less, because in the time required to bake the crust, the chicken breast becomes dry.
Unlike some on this board, I don't care for the beaten-to-death chicken-fried steak -- I'll bet that piece of beef would prefer waterboarding! -- but the hamburger steak with mashed potatoes and plenty of good brown gravy to wipe up with those tangy dinner rolls is mighty fine.
I wish that the BNB and other favored homey cafes would offer more-interesting vegetables on the side. Occasionally they'll have corn or decent peas, but more often it's mushy carrots or green beans or some other blemish on God's green Earth.
Other than that, I have no strong feelings about the place! ;-)
Great review! I've been going to Bake 'n Broil for many years now and it is still a favorite. If they have it, you should try their apricot pie. It is my favorite fruit pie in LA County but they often run out. I almost always get their hamburger combo, but lately have been enjoying the country fried chicken breast with mashed potatoes. Comfort food coma!
Thanks for the report, warts and all. I'm not a huge fan of BnB but if you have to go, just go for breakfast or get soup and pie! Their lunch & dinner entrees really aren't all that great, but I admit that I'm not a baked spaghetti or grey meat type of person.
Abby, breakfast at B&B is so good, you'll have to try it on a weekend sometime. I've had their hamburger lunch special, which they will serve med-rare and comes w/a piece o' pie or cake. Yum. Didn't know you weren't in LB anymore, so I guess another city gets to be lucky enough to host you.
i'm afraid bnb may be a victim of its own success. not because the restaurant isn't good ... it's even better than it has been. but because people go in with artificial expectations of what it should be. it's a coffee shop! complaining about unimaginative vegetables there is like complaining about the lack of designer clothes at target. the thing i love about bnb (and i eat there probably 2 or 3 times a week ... it's my home away from home and it's hard for me to be impartial), is that it does what it does so well. There aren't many places you can get a better $10 meal. appreciate it for what it does, don't blame it for not doing what it never intended to do. in the past, some on this board have compared it (unfavorably!) to a place like Pollys. and it's true that the menus are about the same. but eat at both places and i think you'll see why bnb is so great: homemade pies and cakes that taste like real baking (their banana cream is about the best i've ever had), terrific hamburgers and good sandwiches. great breakfasts. really good chicken pot pie. i even like their meat loaf when i'm in that kind of mood. if that sounds good to you, you'll love bnb. but don't go expecting it to be something its not.
FED, that nail is still quivering for getting struck so smartly! I'm not looking for any revelations in a place like this, just predictably good grub, and I think B&B, like Pann's, has enough little revelations that you can dismiss the flat spots. Too bad this place is seldom on my route to anywhere, or I'd eat there a lot, but it's in my GPS navigator's Favorites list for whenever I am in the vicinity.
I'm sorry, FED and Will Owen, but I disagree on this very important point. If we were a little more demanding, we might get a better product at customer-oriented places like BNB and Pann's.
One proof is in the small, inexpensive cafes throughout the Midwest and South. Many of them show that, for example, it's completely reasonable to expect a great variety of delicious and properly cooked vegetables at every lunch and dinner. You can find more evidence in home kitchens. The second or third time an attentive amateur makes chicken pot pie or chicken with dumplings, the secret for how to keep the breast meat from drying out becomes quite clear -- precook the meat less. You don't have to be a superstar chef to figure that out. In Texas I used to have chicken with dumplings at a five-buck cafeteria, for Pete's sake, and the white meat wasn't dry the way it can be in BNB's chicken pot pie.
When I returned to my native Southern California four years ago, I'd been living most recently in Silicon Valley and was excited to find places like Pann's and BNB again, and I'm still happy with them for the most part. Pann's beef short ribs (thanks to Will Owen for his heads-up) and their excellent biscuits and BNB's Swedish meatballs, hamburger steak, and wonderful pies and cakes would win favor anywhere. But go to the Loveless Cafe in Nashville or the Frisco Shop in Austin or the Florida Ave. Grill in Washington, DC (those are only the first three that come to mind -- the list is endless), and you'll find outstanding, inexpensive food with great attention paid to the kinds of details we've been discussing.
If it's doable there and doable at home, it's not unreasonable to ask favored cozy cafes like BNB and Pann's -- which I cherish, if I haven't emphasized that point enough -- to get down and get doin' it!
Counterintuitive as it may be, there's much more of a vegetable-cooking culture in the South, and to a lesser extent the Midwest, than there is in SoCal. I'm talking about at this coffee-shop/cafe level. Pann's "Chef's Vegetables" are many cuts above the usual short-order run of the mill, being made from fresh and well-buttered, but in Nashville they'd be dismissed as tasteless. Diner customers around here don't expect their side veges to be interesting; diner customers at, say, any Sylvan Park restaurant in Nashville don't either, but their threshold is a whole bunch higher. And many dishes, such as the squash casseroles and the green beans with bacon, are iconic favorites enjoyed for themselves.
re: Will Owen
i've lived in the south ... quite a while as a matter of fact, and i'm well aware of the tradition of meat-and-threes and southern vegetable cooking. and i really enjoy it when i'm there. but criticizing bnb because the vegetables aren't more imaginative (they're not, no argument), is like criticizing one of those restaurants because they don't make great lemon lush pie.
Strange as it may seem to FED, the vegetables at Polly are often GOOD, al dente and not canned or overcooked. They also do a freshly roasted turkey everday and the turkey sandwiches are the bomb (name your own bread, I like with the walnut-raisin). The fresh berry pies, which they don't run out of, are excellent. In season they even have ollallie berry.
For breakfast at Polly's I usually get a waffle with fresh berries, sometimes it seems like they give me a box of fresh raspberries. The coffee is too weak, though.
well-cooked fresh vegetables have not been my experience in the many times i've eaten at polly's (though i do like their turkey sandwiches). i've followed your posts mlgb and the only thing i can say is we'll have to agree to disagree about polly's and la creperie. that's not to say there aren't other places we can share a meal, even if only hypothetically.