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Cassell's heading south

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  • martyR Sep 20, 2004 04:27 PM
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I've been going to Cassell's in K-town off and on for quite a few years, and lately it has seemed to go downhill for me. I think they changed owners in the last couple years, so that may have a lot to do with it.
Their burgers haven't excited me for a while now, but I always went more for the creamy potato salad laced with horseradish than for the burgers. Today though, I went and the potato salad had a very off-tasting quality to it. I couldn't finish it for the first time ever.
I think I need to assign this place to the bench for a time.

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  1. Thanks for the update. I guess Cassell's will just have to go into the "fond memory" file.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Marco Polo

      Because we all write off good restaurants based on one reviewer's experience?

      1. re: DavidSL

        Good point. In this case it confirms my experience of my last couple of visits. Too many other good places out there I would rather go to versus hoping Cassell's will improve.

    2. I went to Cassell's last week, after a couple of years, and found the potato salad as I fondly remembered it. The burger, still cooked in the double grill, was juicy but not as tasty as I recalled from many, many visits before. The buns appeared to be created on the premises and the mayo had that homemade taste. Lemonade was nothing special, but tasty. We were eating around 2:30, well after the lunch hour, and the place was empty. However, everything was clean, showing no signs of indifference to basic hygiene. In summary, my guess is that they don't grind their meat anymore, but everything else was as it was in my memory of the glory days of the 70s and 80s.

      1. I haven't been there since the 80's but I do remember the potato salad was superb. My main memory of the place, however, is of sitting at a table next to the wall and peering down into the space between the table and the wall. Peering back up at me were literally dozens of roaches, all waving their antennae back and forth. I kid you not!

        5 Replies
        1. re: monkuboy

          I remember the location further down 6th that had a nice little patio. But the burgers were always fine.

          BUt it has been a while.

          1. re: Jerome

            My last visit to Cassell's was in the early 80's. The food was always fine but I the image of numerous roaches covering the wall has always stayed with me. It was like they were waiting for me to throw them some scraps of food. I've never seen so many roaches all in one place before! (thankfully)

            1. re: monkuboy

              Well, Cassell's has an "A" from the Health Dept. last time I checked, and has every time I've been there. Was this in the old location a block or two away from where it is now?

              1. re: Jack Flash

                In those days oversight by the County Health Department was pretty lax compared to now. I had a job that took me inside a lot of restaurant kitchens then. Many of them harbored sanitation conditions gross enough to shock the senses.

                1. re: Jack Flash

                  I'm sure it was at the old location. Next time I just didn't sit next to the wall!

          2. I ate there regularly as a teen in the seventies and as an adult a few months ago. The food was pretty much the same and still good but the 70's ambiance and attitude was missing with the new owner.

            My mom makes the Cassell's potato salad based on a Mike Roy recipe she copied in the 70's and it has been a staple at family BBQ events since then. The secret ingredient is dried mustard powder along with mayo and salt. If anyone has proportion interest -- I'll ask her and post it.

            David

            9 Replies
            1. re: DavidSL

              That's funny. I make a potato salad that is nothing like Cassells but my secret ingredients are dried musatard (a lot) and chipotle tobasco sauce.

              1. re: martyR

                The recipe per mom (and it tastes exactly the same):

                4 large potatoes boiled soft yet firm. 1/4 tsp dry mustard, 1/2 tsp sugar & 1/2 c mayo. Salt to taste.

                1. re: DavidSL

                  I, and my wife, could swear that there's horseradish in there. And lots of it.

                  1. re: JonW

                    My mom dug up the recipe and thus the revision below:

                    4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
                    1/2 cup mayo
                    1 tbsp sugar
                    1 1/4 tsp dry mustard
                    3/4 tsp salt

                    originally printed in the LA Times 1974

                    1. re: DavidSL

                      Years ago I asked one of the grill cooks how they made their
                      potato salad and he mentioned all of the above ingredients
                      and even went into the kitchen to get the bottle of dry
                      mustard to show me. I guess he didn't want me to confuse it
                      with regular mustard. I also thought it was horseradish
                      before that.

                      1. re: DavidSL

                        Thanks for the recipe! But . . . no horseradish?! They've had me fooled at Cassell's, then, for 40 years. Sure TASTES like horseradish, and bites like it. You sure that's only dry mustard? Ask your Mom specifically about that, maybe? Thanks!

                        1. re: Jack Clark

                          LOL, it wasn't my mom but one of the line cooks at Cassell's that actually brought out the bottle of dry mustard and said that was the secret ingredient. If you think about it, dry mustard has a big hit you in the nose burn to it just like horseradish. I started going to Cassell's probably 40 years ago when they were at their old location, mainly for the potato salad.

                          1. re: Neta

                            From the very first time I tasted their potato salad I've thought it was mustard that gave it its distinct flavor. Horseradish never even occurred to me.

                            1. re: Neta

                              I don't doubt that there's dry mustard in Cassell's potato salad, or that it's the secret ingredient. However, that doesn't establish that there's no horseradish in it also. I was at Cassell's again last month and specifically asked whether there was horseradish in the potato salad. I got an immediate "Yes." I first ate at Cassell's in 1968 and I notice no difference in the potato salad since then. Seems to me that if it tastes like horseradish, bites like horseradish, and the cooks tell me there's horseradish in it . . . I gotta believe there's horseradish in it.

                2. I went to Cassell's a month ago. I generally don't like potato salad, but Cassell's potato salad I do like, so one vote for the potato salad. The burger is fine, I didn't eat there until a few years ago, so I can't compare with the good old days, but it's fine, although nothing I would drive 20 miles out of my way for.

                  1. I worked across the street from Cassell's for eight years, and no one in my buiding would eat there. Whenever I asked why, they would just make a face.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: EliseT

                      LOL! That's quite an image! I'm picturing a building full of people. You say, "Cassell's, anyone?" and they all simultaneously make the same face. These are people who "do" lunch, right? :-]

                    2. I'm a longtime Cassell's customer, dating back to when Mr. Cassell could actually be seen scurrying around, making sure everything was the way he wanted it to be. My most recent visit was two weeks ago.

                      The place has changed hands and it's not as wonderful as it used to be. But it's still better than almost any other place in L.A. where I can go to get a hamburger.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Hackenbush

                        I agree. When Mr. Cassell was running the place, it was better. I can still remember his obsession with perfection. One time, I was in there with the lunch crowd when he rejected a shipment of hams because they didn't meet his standard. "They may be good anywhere else, but they're not good enough for me to serve my customers"...

                        The last time I went there, I asked for the #10, grilled ham and swiss. The bread isn't the same and the ham sure wasn't baked the same way, tasted like Costco ham. And the burgers don't taste the same, either. Sad...

                      2. Cassell's headed south years ago.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Barbara Ladden

                          While I agree it had its down times. Recently Cassell's has been great. Give it another try. It really is one of LA's legendary places.