Dear Mr Gold:

I need a good patty melt, man. Like an old-school, East Coast, sit-at-Woolworth's-with-your-grandfather-while-he-chain-smokes-and-talks-about-the-war kind of sandwich. I like Paty's in Toluca Lake well enough, but I know that there is better out there.

—Adam Siegel

Dear Mr. Siegel:

Did you ever have a Ship Shape burger at the old Ship's? Best patty melt in the world.

Anyway, I go to Pie 'n Burger in Pasadena when the patty-melt urge strikes and it doesn't happen to be 3 a.m. (As you probably know, a patty melt is the one edible thing at Denny's.) There may be finer versions, made with a better grade of beef, with cheese you would be happy to see on a cart, and slapped between slices of artisanal rye bread, but the exquisitely crunchy patty melt at Pie 'n Burger is careful without being insipid, oozy in just the right way, and sweetened by its judicious load of grilled onions. It does tend to need a spot of ketchup as a jolt of acidity to counteract the richness, but I have come to see that as more of a feature than a bug. 913 E. California Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 795-1123.


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