What is it about a diner that comforts us so? The waitresses with pencils behind their ears? The pies on display? The regulars? The long counter and swivel chairs? Is it the fake flowers and old photographs? Or just the predictable (in a good way) food? The Toasted Bun in Glendale gives you all those things and now they're doing it beyond breakfast and lunchtime.
Since 1963 they've been serving up comfort food in an easy-going environment. In the mornings, they sling hash and eggs. Afternoons, you can wrangle up a decent sandwich or burger. And, as of a month ago, from 4 to 9 p.m., they offer a menu of more substantial fare at very reasonable prices. After trying a couple of their offerings, my hunch is to stick with the tried and true diner options.
For $10.50, I got a nice pork chop topped with green peppers and onions, some fluffy mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans (canned, I think, but buttery and scrumptious) and a choice between soup and salad. The chicken and rice soup had a great roasted chicken broth. My husband chose the salad, which was cold and covered in a good blue cheese dressing, just like you'd want from a diner. So after all this goodness, I was dismayed to taste his Shrimp Scampi Linguini ($11.25). It tasted too much of wine and had little of that buttery garlic flavor you expect from Scampi. Best to choose the classics like fried chicken, meatloaf and fish & chips over something you'd get at a trattoria, like pasta or salmon.
Of course diners, at least the ones off the Interstate, are more popular at breakfast and lunch. They make some pretty mean strawberry pancakes here ($6.95). Light and fluffy, they come with sliced fresh strawberries, not the goopy canned stuff, and some rather artlessly spewed whipped cream.
The breakfast burrito ($6.95), while lauded by many, is not, in my opinion, their strong suit. But the patty melt ($6.50) and the steak sandwich ($8) are satisfying. The steak sandwich comes on a soft French roll and flaunts a thin, grilled steak with tomato, avocado, red onion and lettuce. The patty melt has good, strong rye toast and creamy cheese. We had to ask for the grilled onions.
The waitress complained about the cooks not doing what they're supposed to do, like forgetting onions on the patty melt and serving two instead of four pancakes. I thought this was a bit unprofessional, passing the buck like that. But it seems like classic diner behavior.
The Toasted Bun used to have a more hipster, retro feel to it. New owners changed that a while ago and recently, they've done some other minor renovations. There are new, firmer booth seats, fresh paint and some Tiffany-esque lamps hanging down. There's still a vague retro feel to it but mainly due to fake flowers, old photographs and seasonal decorations.
Speaking of seasonal decorations, the Toasted Bun is closed on Christmas Day and might close early on New Year's Eve. But they're open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every other day (except Sundays until 8 p.m.). So when you're looking for the comfort of a diner at a good price, look no further than Glendale's own Toasted Bun, morning, noon or night.
Lisa Dupuy and her family try to catch up over breakfast every weekend, often at a diner. She can be reached at LDupuy@aol.com.
What: The Toasted Bun
Where: 800 E. California Ave., Glendale
When: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Prices: Breakfast $4.25 to $7.95; Lunch $4.75 to $8.50; Dinner $8.75 to $11.50
Contact: (818) 244-6416