Relax, Los Angeles. We now have a bacon cronut burger.
This is thanks to chef Marc Elliot and his new restaurant Old School Eatery, which opened this past Tuesday on the very eastern edge of Pasadena. The theme is retro cuisine with clever twists and local ingredients.
Elliot is quite the character. He has a blog (not updated since 2012) called "assholechef," which excerpts from a book (unpublished, as far as we can tell) called The Customer is NEVER RIGHT. His press materials refer to him as a "Brooklyn badass" — he worked in Brooklyn for many years before making the move to Los Angeles. Once here, he worked at Vintage Enoteca, as well as Tuning Fork in Studio City.
So why has he opened here, on the border of Sierra Madre? "It's a beautiful neighborhood," Elliot says, "and there's nothing to eat here."
The menu at Old School Eatery is long, and full of riffs on diner food and '70s throwbacks, as well as flatbread pizzas (all named for Grateful Dead songs, aside from the "Maggie's Farm"), burgers and a menu item titled "Your Mamma," which costs $0.05 and is described as "everyone's favorite meal." It's a long menu, with full sections for salads, sandwiches, kids meals, etc.
Yes, there's a "Seattle burger" that comes on a bacon glazed cronut. Why is it called the Seattle burger? According to Elliot, "They just legalized marijuana in Seattle. And only someone high as hell is going to eat a burger on a donut, with bacon no less."
The menu is full of gems like that: corn dog lollipops, dessert pizza with marshmallows and salted caramel — but then there's vegan bubble n' squeak made with almond milk. There's also Salisbury steak, and whitefish piccata with kumquat. And a great-looking beer list, curated by James Willis.
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Elliot and company have a ton of events and specials planned for the space. There are three 55-inch televisions in the restaurant — two above the bar and one on the roomy enclosed patio — on which they'll be playing major sporting events (including the World Cup this weekend). They have 1/2-off wine night on Wednesdays. And there will be cooking classes at the restaurant some time in the future.
The restaurant's initial press release asks the question: "Can a casual eatery get a star in the all mighty Michelin guide? If so, it will be this place." Sadly, Michelin isn't in Los Angeles (or Pasadena) anymore. But maybe they'll come back for this place.
(Additional reporting, and eating, by Amy Scattergood.)