Like many Americans, I fell for fish a few years ago. I went around saying things like, "Oh, I hardly ever eat red meat." And like many Americans, I recently discovered that I had a sudden appetite for a good steak. Still, I was a little surprised to find myself eating in not one, but two, meat-minded establishments last week.
Both are boisterous places filled with two-fisted eaters for whom quantity really counts. Both like to keep you waiting. Both have wonderfully comic waiters. And both have names that start with P. There the resemblance stops.
Walk into The Palm, 9001 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (213) 550-8811, and you find yourself in a crowd of high-powered people, none of whom are used to being kept waiting, all of whom wait here. Sit down (finally) in your booth, and you are served with amazing alacrity. There are enormous steaks, even more enormous lobsters and great platters of cottage fries and fried onions. It's expensive--but it's a slice of America, and it's a lot of fun.
People wait at the Pantry, 877 S. Figueroa, downtown, (213) 972-9279, too--but they wait with more resignation. And once you get into the slightly scruffy room you find that the New York steak is $8.35; it comes with all the bread you can eat, wonderful cole slaw and a heap of hash browns. The burger steak ($5) is huge, filled with onions and tasty. The service is swell: The waiter will tell you his troubles, flip you a straw, twirl the knife before he puts it down and bring you a second glass of iced tea before you've finished the first. The Pantry is a real American institution; if you've got meat on your mind, you'll be glad to know it's still around.