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Colonial Kitchen

Aug 24, 2015

IMG_3025It’s a building we’ve driven by more times than we can count and it registers fleetingly because of the name Colonial Kitchen rising up above the roofline and the Union Jack that flies out front, alongside the Stars and Stripes (well, to be accurate, they each take a corner). It’s an establishment that’s never pulled our full attention, hasn’t come to mind when our stomach rumbles. Until last week.

A quick drop off and errand before breakfast, and more importantly before coffee, and the dated whitewashed brick building with white shutters, quaint white wrought iron and an outdoor lantern prompts us to turn on our blinker and pull in.

 

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Walking into the foyer of Colonial Kitchen Restaurant with its glass cabinets housing figurines and Elvis Presley commemorative plates is like stepping into an eccentric’s personal memorabilia collection, a neglected rotary club, or a third-tier boat club.

 

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Stepping into the darkened main dining room, we wait at the hostess/check-out stand until Rosa offers us a booth; we opt for the counter. She reiterates that though we are a party of one, we are welcome to take a whole booth, but we thank her and decline, not having sat at a diner counter for some time. It runs behind the hostess area, almost the entire length of the room, and we take a seat one of the Bentwood stools with caned seat backs.

The ceiling appears “dropped” with white perforated acoustical tiles and the walls are mahogany-colored wood paneling. The aura of cool darkness continues with a dark wood floor and dark brown traditional Captain Mate armchairs. Red glass pendant lamps hang from the ceiling and standing lamps—hobnail milk glass with ruffles—line the half-wall that separates the dining areas lined with dark green “button” booths. The long counter is lined with bentwood stools with cane backing.

 

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Even though 20 or so people dine within, the room feels quiet, almost hushed, though not in a restrained manner. It’s a placid quiet, a comfortable hush. Classical music plays in the background, turned low so voices don’t have to rise above it to be heard. The world outside of palm trees and folks in shorts and tank tops driving Smart cars and hybrid electric Prius’ and consuming organic produce and artisanal foods feels light years into the future. Colonial Kitchen is a step back in time…about 5 decades worth…and it’s odd, wondrous, and delightful.

Our breakfast is delicious. Two eggs over medium cooked perfectly along with two sausage links and “Texas toast,” extra thick slices of bread buttered and grilled. Pining for some ‘taters, we order a side of the O’Brien potatoes with onion and green peppers. A slab running the width of the plate—a huge serving—is marvelously browned and crispy on the outside and soft and hot on the inside. We decline Rosa’s offering of catsup as we want nothing to interfere with fully tasting our buds. (On another day, we try the eggs Benedict with O’Brien potatoes, another hefty serving and solid in quality.)

 

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Symbiotic with the distinctive character of Colonial Kitchen is Rosa. She’s worked at Colonial Kitchen for over a quarter of a century and tells us that she still loves coming to work every day—and it shows; she’s quick and obliging, friendly and efficient. She and her co-workers tend to the patrons, addressing many by name, and engaging with all.

We—admitted diner breakfast junky—can now add another “fave” to our coveted list.

Colonial Kitchen Restaurant, 1110 Huntington Dr., San Marino. Hours: Monday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Tel.: 1.626.289.2449. (No website available and the restaurant’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated for four years.)

 

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During the seventh season of Mad Men, a scene between Don (Jon Hamm) and Sally (Kiernan Shipka) in was shot inside Colonial Kitchen. The location scout should get a bonus.

 

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