Comfort Food

The LA Times has a nice write up on an old favorite of mine called The Apple Pan. Here is a section that gives a short overview of it.

IN the shadow of the Westside Pavilion in West L.A. stands a tiny building that houses a world. People come there for burgers and pie, and they keep coming back because something about the place is magnetic. They can’t stay away.

The people who work there keep coming back too. Decade after decade, you see the same faces. The lunchtime sandwich cook, Charles Collins, has worked at the Apple Pan for 50 years. The owner, Martha Gamble, was the first waitress when her parents opened the place in 1947.

In all this time the Apple Pan has served an unchanged menu of distinctive burgers, sandwiches and pies. One regular customer estimates that he has eaten, at minimum, 1,000 steakburgers over the years.

The regulars probably aren’t surprised that the Apple Pan has turned 60. It’s been part of their lives since the corner of Pico and Westwood boulevards was best known as the site of California’s first drive-in theater.

What’s the deal about this place? Looks won’t tell you much. Inside the small white building with green trim and a sign reading “The Apple Pan Quality Forever,” there’s no décor but plaid wallpaper and some much-lacquered wood paneling. Twenty-six stools line a U-shaped counter with a brick-walled grill area in the middle.
Taking sides

THE moment you enter, you sense an obscure protocol in force. The room is divided into right and left sides, each with its own waiter, cash register and coffee urn. Regulars habitually sit on a favorite side, even when a stool becomes available on the other.

Why? “They’re used to a particular waiter,” Collins suggested.

“I don’t think about it,” said a young woman who didn’t want to give her name. “It’s like what side of the bed you prefer to sleep on.”

When people have to wait for a seat, there’s no room for a real line to form. Still, they yield to one another in strict order of arrival, like drivers at a four-way intersection.

At lunch, you need to place your order briskly because the waiters will be hopping from one urgent task to another. Dinner is less crowded and more leisurely.

There’s a homey Midwestern quality about the place. If you don’t feel like a soda, you can ask for buttermilk. Actual cream comes with your coffee. All the recipes are family recipes, and the back of the menu tells you where the originator of each was born, whether in Ohio, Missouri or Nebraska.

The burger arrives without a plate. It’s wrapped in paper, shoved in a bag and slapped down in front of you on its side, with an edible edge peeking skyward.

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  1. Jack's Shack May 18, 2007 at 2:53 pm


    I love the smells there. It is so good.


    Matzah Brie is a good choice. I love that too, but The Apple Pan is something special.

  2. MizEllie May 18, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    It sounds lovely and hospitable! Not like the high-priced, hustle you out of there as quickly as possible restaurants that are popping up these days.

    But for my money, the best comfort food in the world = matzah brie….

  3. WomanHonorThyself May 17, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    sheesh your’e making me hungry! what time is dinner?

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