HERMANO SEGUNDO LOST IN LA LA LAND: DAY ELEVEN
I guess at heart I am a pleb, a commoner, a serf and an underling.
Despite my best efforts, it is not the swanky restaurants which attracts me it is the down home and the simple. Oh, I can enjoy a meal such as our recent one at Providence as much as anyone, you would have to be a bit simple minded not to admire the chef’s ability to turn exemplary ingredients into the utterly fabulous. But, while others may sit and parse their dishes of fish, foams and fancies, I can’t help but feel that somewhere out there there is a pile of BBQ ribs, a plate of fish & chips or a hamburger with my name on them.
My new chum, John Haskell, is obviously a man after my own heart or heart attack. As we sat having a wonderful supper on Saturday, drinking astonishing wines and eating the food of a soon-to-be Michelin 2* chef, his wife, Liz was making copious notes and bringing all her considerable dining experience to bear on the dishes in front of us. John was playing along with good humour, but when I mentioned that one of the best things I had eaten so far was a hot dog from Let’s Be Frank, his eyes lit up and he began to talk with genuine passion about L.A’s great hamburger and hot dog joints.
At the end of the evening he promised me a trip to his favourite of all, Marty’s on the corner of Pico & Overland and as promised was sitting outside Sybil's flat waiting for me at 11am sharp. Well, in fact he was a little early, John being a man who realises that prime beef waits for no man.
Marty’s is everything you want from a hamburger joint and Angel, who has been working there for over twenty years was cooking away a storm in preparation for the lunchtime rush. John is a regular and his request to “double my regular order” saw us head back to the small dining area a few moments later each carrying a tray laden down with a chilli dog, a cheeseburger, fries and onion rings. Yes, that is all of that for both of us.
“fast food does not have to mean junk food” John mumbled between slow, considered bites, alternating between dog and burger and he was right. Marty’s hamburgers are made from decent beef and cooked perfectly to order, rare in this case, with lots of toppings, which compliment rather than detract from the main event. If the hamburger was good, the chilli dog was a revelation with a decent frank slathered with slow cooked chilli with a bit of a kick. I finished it off in about three bites, prompting John to ask me if I wanted another. Damn, yes I did, but with a bowl of decent onion rings and passable fries to contend with and a stadium size diet Coke to wash it down ( I am on a diet don’t you know?) good judgement got the better of a good appetite.
After a poor start, L.A’s eating scene is finally growing on me and I guess it now says as much about me as it does about the city’s restaurants that the one place I want to return to before I leave is a small hamburger joint where a meal for two costs about £12.
But then, as I say, I am a pleb. No apologies offered, none necessary.