Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pie 'n Burger



I have been hearing about Pie 'n Burger for some time now. In the same location since 1963, it often receives votes for the best burger in LA and is known for its strawberry pie. In fact, Pie 'n Burger has been around so long that its diet plate of a burger patty, peach slices and cottage cheese has actually come into vogue again.


Today I finally had a meeting in Pasadena, not a quarter mile away from the place. Pie 'n Burger appears to be an unassuming little box from the outside, but once inside, you are transported back in time to a little old-fashioned California coffee shop, circa Nick at Nite. When the friendly waitress asked me what I wanted, I said, "Well, I guess I better have a pie n burger." She laughed gaily, as if I was the first person who had ever said such a thing. I was placing my order to go, but when she rattled off a list of about twenty-five different kinds of pie, my mind was blown. I thought, "Well, I'd better get a slice for my husband too". And when I thought about a slice of blueberry pie, it seemed like a sin to have it un a la mode, which would not have traveled well. So I did what I tend to do when faced with a wide array of choices - I ordered one old standard - banana cream pie, plus something daring - butterscotch. Then I asked for a slice of blueberry pie, heated, a la mode, to eat while I waited for them to cook my burger.


They asked me how I wanted my burger cooked, which was refreshing in this age of "always-cook-the hell-out-of-it-to avoid-food-poisoning". They grill their onions, so I asked for onions, ketchup and mayo. Burgers come standard with big leaves of iceberg lettuce, pickles, and thousand island dressing, so I went with it.




When my pie arrived, it could not have looked better tied with a giant bow. The flaky crust was fairly bursting with blueberries, and the entire pie was collapsing from the weight of two massive scoops of ice cream. The filling was especially sweet, and needed the balance of the cool vanilla ice cream. As I ate my pie, I chatted with the charming waitress. I liked the way her eyes shone when she talked about candy. Her slight Texas accent and wide-eyed charm, coupled with the old formica counter transported me back to a time and place when things were simpler. Not the actual, olden days when everything actually kind of sucked for most people, but an imaginary, romanticized "good old days" like you see on TV. As I dug into my purse for dollar bills to pay for the spontaneous added expense of three slices of pie, the waitress said, "That's OK if you don't have it." I did, but talk about the halcyon days of yore!




When I got home, the burger had cooled, but that did not affect its deliciousness in the least. It was dripping with a delicious, messy mix of condiments, the patty was charred and juicy, and the crunchy lettuce and sweet pickle made me kind of nostalgic. I don't remember the bun at all. I scarfed it down too fast to even notice. It wasn't memorable, which is maybe what the bun should be - just a vehicle for getting all of the other stuff into your mouth.



The cream pies were the worse for wear from the trip home. About and hour and a half after leaving the restaurant, the butterscotch pie had started to melt into a pool of unappetizing syrup. The banana cream pie held up better, but was more sweet than flavorful. Plus, I'm not big on meringue on cream pies - just my personal preference. So I would say, go for the hamburgers, go for the fruit pies, and definitely go for the good service and ambiance. If I lived nearby, Pie 'n Burger would probably be my home away from home.

They also serve breakfast. Oh, and as an added bonus, Pie n Burger has a wine shop in back. You can buy a bottle of wine or champagne and open it at your table to enjoy with your dinner. Might I suggest a nice Zinfandel to go with your chili size, and how about a Syrah for the rhubarb pie? Pie'n Burger 913 E. California Blvd. Cash and checks only. http://www.pienburger.com/index.htm



2 comments:

gina & heath said...

heath has been wanting to take me here for a long time. it looks so yummy. i want a piece of blueberry pie, NOW!

Howard said...

heath has been wanting to take me here for a long time. it looks so yummy. i want a piece of blueberry pie, NOW!