Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Power of Two: Pacific Dining Car and Langer's


Two LA Landmarks: Pacific Dining Car and Langer's

Remember the 80s? We didn't walk; we power walked. We didn't eat breakfast or lunch. We had a power breakfast or a power lunch. And a suit wasn't a suit. That's right. It was a power suit. The whole thing made me want to power puke.

When a friend invited me for breakfast at the venerable Pacific Dining Car in downtown LA, my first thought was, "What should I wear?"

I considered wearing a power suit (or at least a power jacket) while we ate our power breakfasts, but settled on a look that was more casual Friday than uptight Tuesday. After all, I figured the ultimate power comes from having a flexible schedule that allows you to take off the morning for a downtown breakfast outing. (Don't ya' love stickin' it to the man.)

Sure enough, all of the other diners were dressed in suits and ties and gazed at spreadsheets and pie charts between sips of coffee from a china cup. To fit in, dining companion and I studied Jonathan Gold's list of 99 Things to Eat Before You Die while we developed a strategy for our next take over of a restaurant.

I hadn't set foot in the Pacific Dining Car since the 80s, when I worked downtown as a briefcase-lugging corporate drone. I was happy to see that it hasn't changed a bit. Some icons become stodgy over time, but not the Pacific Dining Car. It still looks and feels fresh and elegant, refined and special with its rich colors, linen table cloths and fine china and silver.


Butter rosettes and a fresh rose at every table

I ordered the breakfast hash, which is made from the left over steaks from the night before. Unlike most hashes, which tend to be at least 50% potato, this one was 85% steak and 15% potato, all swimming in a rich, savory gravy. The steak came cubed, not shredded, and was so tender that I barely needed to chew. It came topped with a poached egg with two biscuits on the side. Power breakfast indeed.



Dining companion went for the Cajun style eggs benedict, featuring sauteed mushrooms and a crab cake instead of Canadian bacon.



After our two-hour breakfast, we realized that it was time for lunch. So we did what any food-loving duo would do: we traveled a few blocks away to Langer's to try one of their legendary pastrami sandwiches.

When the sandwiches arrived, the first thing I noticed was the warm, untoasted bread. Then when I bit into the sandwich, I immediately noticed the crisp, chewy crust. I was enraptured. Apparently, this is what rye bread is all about. Why doesn't everyone do it this way?



We packed up our sandwiches to go, and I vowed that I wasn't ever going to eat again. That is until I returned home and that rye bread started calling my name.

Of course, I did what any good girl from the 80s does. I powered down the pastrami sandwich and then I took a power nap.

28 comments:

twoguyswithanappetite.com said...

Langer's is the best! Number 19 combo. How can you go wrong?

Cafe Observer said...

So, is it the best Pastrami SW you ever had?

D3000 said...

Wow Susan ...I am hungry!
That pickle with pastrami i smaking my mouth water. Love this blog...and you of course, especially since we had out first meeting a SWORKS. You are an amazing woman and I am glad i found you and the blog. Next time we meet I am bringing you the best bread in town..or maybe the country :-) Love, Deanna

Susan C said...

Two Guys, I think next time I'll skip the "swiss" cheese. Otherwise, THE BEST.

CO, Yes, I can honestly say this was THE BEST pastrami sandwich I've ever had.

Deanna, Same here. Meeting friends like you is one of the perks of blogging.

Havisham Patrizzi said...

I love the Pacific Dining Car. Some years it was the New Year's Eve dinner spot, other years the Christmas Eve dinner spot--whether it meant dinner was served at 6pm or 3am--they were open. I just wish their prices weren't so high, I can't afford them anymore.

Many happy memories!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I think we had a different experience of the 80's. I spent my powerless mornings sans the suit, at Vickman's on Olympic.

altadenahiker said...

How come you didn't show mary's egg mcmuffin?

Susan C said...

Miss H, What a fabulous place for New Year's Eve or Christmas Eve or any special occasion.

PA, I had to look up Vickman's on Olympic. See that it kept the ungodly hours of 3 am to noon to fit with the schedule of the produce workers. You were part of the cool arts scene I only wish I had known in the 80s.

AH, Forgot my camera the day I ate at Mary's, but I can't wait to go back. That place has got to have the prettiest surroundings in LA County. And a full breakfast for five bucks can't be beat.

Ann said...

I am salivating!

Lori Webster said...

The pictures say it all....and now I'm hungry! Thank God for the corned beef in the crockpot....

Susan C said...

Ann, And can you believe that, in spite of my overeating, I'm STILL having trouble gaining weight. Just tonight someone asked me if I was losing more weight.

Lori, Yum! Have you ever made corned beef hash with the leftovers? Here's a great recipe from a food blogger who's never steered me wrong:
http://fortheloveofcooking-recipes.blogspot.com/2010/03/corned-beef-hash.html

Margaret said...

We took the family to the Pacific Dining Car around Christmas time. We kept looking for political movers and shakers, but we only saw an elderly man and his college age grandson.

Susan C said...

Margaret, Chances are older gentleman was a former mover and shaker (love that phrase) showing his grandson the ropes. Hope your girls appreciated the PDC.

Virginia said...

Hey Susan,
I've jumped over from Hiker's blog. OMG , I just gained 10 pounds reading your blog. I need to go walk now to work off the pounds! Great blog BTW.
Virg

Emily and Will said...

I love this :)

Mary said...

Loved the post today. It made a powerful indictment of the 80's :-)
You were so irreverent you may have to answer to a higher power.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Did you ever go to Gorkys? That was a bipartisan meeting ground
libs verses yups

Susan C said...

Hi Virg, Thanks for visiting. I feel like I already know you from reading your comments at our friends' blogs.

Emily and Will, Glad you liked it. I'll take you and Will to Langer's the next time you come out.

Mary, Thanks. Moi, irreverent?!? Never!

PA, I adored Gorky's. I always combined breakfast at Gorky's with a visit to the flower mart (where I got to admire that fabulous mural). stop. And don't you mean artists and yuppies? In spite of appearances, lots of yuppies are liberals.

Havisham Patrizzi said...

Yes, lots of Yups were rad Libs (like me) but then again... seeds of the current Libertarianism were germinated there @Gorky's--in the wee hours. Lots of my friends went that way. Gorky's was political in the '80s-- a place to eat & argue accross the room. HUH!

Havisham Patrizzi said...

I will insert fork, now.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Looking back at my younger self I've come to believe a lot of truths I found self evident... weren't. Youth needs it's enemies.

I found this interesting link through Brady Westwater's blog about Gorky memories, including (further down on the comment thread) the original owner.

Susan C said...

Havisham and PA, I wish I had known both of you in the 80s! Thanks for the Gorky's link.

altadenahiker said...

Yoo-hoo. another Gorky's lover here.

Velva said...

That pastrami sandwich is what has me smiling-delicious.

I remember the 80's well :-)

Bec said...

2 places on my list . . . great photos!

D3000 said...

...just a note to you from me for some reason I am not getting the posts sent to me. Since I am new at Blogging am I supsoe to go on your site to read or do they come to me??
Deanna

The Bush League Cook said...

I happened across your blog when browsing the blogs of note for blogger in recent months! I will be back and have added to follow--beautiful pics and great writing!

Food Gal said...

That is too funny. But heck, yeah, even after a huge breakfast, one does need lunch. Bring it on! ;)