Saturday, October 25, 2008
A Little Excitement in La Verne
Okay, no excitement in La Verne. But I made you keep reading, didn't I?
A colleague tells me that there is a fabulous, hidden-away Indian restaurant in La Verne, although she doesn't know where it is or what the name is. If you do, pleeeeease post it here -- we're dying to know! Because we never did find it.
My first step was a Google search, and as it turned out, that was my last step as well, because I got distracted by the City of La Verne Dining Guide. That's right: The city has an online guide to all the restaurants in the city. It downloads a .pdf, just FYI, and it includes phone numbers, hours, and sometimes URLs.
Reading it over, my eye was caught by Angel's Place, on D Street in downtown La Verne. I've seen Angel's Place before, but I hadn't realized it was a Greek restaurant. So last night we abandoned our quest for Indian and promptly decided to pledge Greek.
Angel's is a fairly low-key diner-style place. The service was prompt and friendly, and while our waitress didn't call us "hon," give her another 20 years and she will. K. had the pastitsio, and I had the "Athenian spaghetti," which our waitress said was "to die for."
Both dishes came with a small Greek salad, pita, and some hummus. The salad was fine, although the dressing used balsamic vinegar (very un-Greek -- I would have far preferred a lemon juice-based vinaigrette). The pita was really good: It's Greek style, meaning it's yeasted, so it has some flavor and lift. The hummus was way too blended, but it tasted perfectly fine.
K's pastitsio tasted good. I'm not a huge fan of the stuff, but it tasted on par with other pastitsios I've tried. My Athenian spaghetti was a basic bolognese with Greek leanings, topped with parmesan and feta. It was nothing fancy, but it was comfort-food spaghetti, the type that reminds you of childhood.
In both cases, we got the largest servings you ever saw in your life. The pastitio was the length, breadth, and height of a brick, I kid you not, and I got about a quart of spaghetti. Considering that both dishes cost about $10 and that we're getting at least one more meal out of them, I'd call that a good deal -- and we could all use a good deal these days.
K was torn between the exotic foreign beer (Mythos) and his natural inclination toward dark beers. When the waitress asked how he liked his Mythos, he said cheerfully, "Pretty good for a yellow beer!" I had a glass of the cabernet (all their wines -- not counting retsina -- are from Salmon Creek Winery), and it was just fine.
All in all, we really liked the place. My one complaint is that they're using commercial-grade chopped feta that tastes very cow-y, not good Greek (or even Bulgarian) stuff. But we'll be back. They're open for breakfast seven days a week, and I feel sure we'll be trying it soon.
 Actually, I'm old enough that spaghetti wasn't something we got at home. All of our mothers cooked meat and two veg; spaghetti was something we ordered in restaurants or got on fridays at school. Even there, spaghetti was an anomaly; our lunch ladies made real home-cooked meat and veg (and the most amazing yeast rolls!) every morning, which we could smell from our classrooms. Every third or fourth friday, however, they would make spaghetti, and the classrooms would be buzzing with anticipation as the aroma of oregano and ground beef floated over the transoms.