Thursday, August 09, 2012

Birds Cafe Chicken Pot Pie

Birds Cafe Chicken Pot Pie, originally uploaded by ~db~.
A friend and I had spent a long day together and were both tired and hungry. He suggested Birds Cafe in Hollywood, across from the Scientology Celebrity Centre on Franklin. He told me how had be going for years and was a regular when he lived nearby. As anyone familiar with the area knows, parking is never easy. If you drive by most weeknights, you'll find the block full of people, with several cars waiting in line for the valets. So be prepared.

But it was a weekday afternoon and it took only one trip around the block to find an open spot. The cafe itself was far from empty, but there was no difficulty finding a couple stools at the end of the bar. Michelle, the lovely bartender brought us each a Stella beer and I took a look at the menu. From the name, it shouldn't be a surprise that Birds specializes in chicken. The "Comfort Food" section looked appealing, with chicken meatloaf, chili, and my ultimate choice, chicken pot pie, which comes with a slice of cornbread.

I asked my friend about my order and he said he wouldn't know. "The only thing I ever get is the chicken chili." And indeed that's what he got, with cheese, onions, and the requisite slice of cornbread. Michelle concurred. "That's the only way to get it."

I had been warned that the pot pie isn't always a favorite of those who try it, so I wasn't sure about what to expect. When it arrived, I wasn't disappointed. The crust was very nice. Toasty, flakey and buttery. Breaking it open I saw what may have disappointed others. Rather than a filling, it was more of a soup. Lots of broth with shredded chicken and vegetables floating about. For me, this wasn't a problem because it gave purpose to that excellent slice of cornbread. Indeed, if I had an issue, it was I wished the broth were a bit more rich, with a bit more chicken. That all said, it was exactly what I wanted after a long day on my feet.

As for my friend's chili. Well, I know what I'll be ordering next time.

Chicken pot pie, about $9.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Skooby's Street Dog

Skooby's Street Dog, originally uploaded by ~db~.

Tucked in a small shop under what was once the marquee for a Pussycat Theater, Skooby's is famous. As in hot dog shop on Hollywood Blvd famous. There are photos of Beck hanging out and Tenacious D manning the grill which attest to this. Still, for the dozens of times I've walked by, I've never stopped. Yesterday, hungry for a hot dog after a long day, I decided it was time.

The first thing that struck me was the variety of the menu. Where I expected the only options to be whether to add cheese and/or chili, there was actually a nice selection of dogs, whether served naked (you add the condiments), or with non-standard toppings like bleu cheese or aoli. The second thing I noticed is that all the dogs are served in King's Hawaiian rolls. Not hot dog buns, but their original sweet dinner rolls. Things looked promising.

It was Tuesday, when Skooby's has a special: $2 for the regular dog, $3 for the street dog. I couldn't pass that up and chose the latter.

First the good. For a regular dog, it was massive. Sure, a lot of that was the sponge of the buns, but still, for 3 bucks this thing was a meal and then some. The veggies were cooked perfect, which is to say they weren't overcooked, but rather just enough to bring out the flavor of the peppers and onions, while keeping their snap. The bun was toasted very nicely with a liberal amount of butter. A little bit of a bite but really it's just a warm pillow..

Now the bad. You notice I haven't mentioned the hot dog itself. Simply put, deep frying the dog destroyed it. Or rather it rendered it into a dense mass of overcooked protein. Even with the bacon wrap, the fat had all been drawn out. It felt like I was chewing on a pet's chew toy. To be clear, I'm talking about texture, not taste, because it is, after all, a deep-fried bacon-wrapped hot dog. So, lots of flavor, but not so enjoyable to eat.

But I don't want to leave a bad impression. It was good overall, especially for the price. It's also a cheap ticket to sit on Hollywood Blvd for an hour and watch the show. I'll surely be back to try out some of the other offerings. About $3 for the dog.