Not that she’d consider actually trying my trick (check my September 2010″ “Eggs” post) on an especially hot day, but Kris is the hands-down best egg fryer I’ve ever seen. And like others who are highly skilled in this fine art, she’s very fast. Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle and onto your plate. This came to mind yesterday as we sat in a beach-front restaurant called the Sugar Shack in Huntington Beach where the short order cook limited his emphasis to the speed part of the task. Not surprisingly, the topic turned to good times and bad where eggs were involved.
The worst, the absolute worst experience — the very worst egg I ever had — meaning I took a crack at eating it — was at the fabled L.A. Pantry, a downtown tourist trap just off Figueroa.
Be forewarned: If you haven’t darkened its doors, pass on the tradition. It’s in no way like going to mom’s for a home-cooked delight. God knows why, but there’s typically a line, and parking is definitely a hit-or-miss proposition. They say that it has been open 24/7 for decades, suggesting that the owners have an “understanding” with the Board of Health. Menu items are listed on a blackboard.
Well. So foolishly, I convinced Kris that she needed to add the L.A. Pantry to her downtown experiences, as in “Hey, let’s do brunch.” It was one of those cold, nasty days in L.A. that the Chamber of Commerce neglects to mention. I had adjusted my attitude to match it as we went inside and grabbed a couple of stools at the counter. I don’t recall what Kris ordered, but I asked for two eggs over well, figuring that there was no way I could lose with something as simple as that. I was wrong, of course.
Still, taking a glance at the plate that was delivered to the girl next to me was encouraging: a pair of eggs sunny-side up that did not look like the chicken would have been insulted.
Mine, when they arrived, were less impressive.
The expression “over well” had been taken to the extreme, and then some. Black. Like coal. With inordinate streaks of yellow. And hard. Definitely hard. Dropping them on the floor would have made an improvement…on the floor. Kris gave me a look, not of approval: “You are going to send them back, right?”
Now, for me to send anything back is a rarity. I simply don’t do it, short of catastrophe — and this was close.
First, I’ve never been described as a gourmet, because, frankly, I’m not. Good presentation and I’m good to go. I’ll never be a restaurant critic; while the copy would not be a stretch, I just would not know what I’m talking about.
Second, there was the cook, who, there was every good chance, might have been on a release program from the county jail two dozen blocks away, and, bless his heart, was trying to add grill work to his skills at making license plates. Probably not a good thing to piss him off, to say nothing of the rehab efforts.
So I whipped out the knife and fork and took a crack at the hockey pucks on my plate, as Kris looked the other way. Oh, maybe six bites before I hung it up.
I actually murmured to Kris a bizarre thought that she wander over to the grill and do her magic. I was kidding, of course, what with the sensitivities of Bruno to deal with and the hard faces of our companions at the counter who like to eat round pieces of cardboard.
I left hungry, but with goofy sentiments of a perverse contribution to the fine people of downtown L.A. — along with the ruffian at the grill, not that he could care less: I was one more satisfied customer.