Good Girl Dinette, the latest offering from former Blue Hen chef Diep Tran, recently opened in an old brick building on Avenue 56 in Highland Park. The modest interior, with its exposed brick walls, rustic red wooden benches, mustard- and lime-colored chairs and unadorned picture glass front window, is in keeping with the neighborhood's unpretentious vibe but signals a distinct tipping point in the area's future.
At her new restaurant, Tran spoons Vietnamese comfort food into the American diner mold with admirable grace and fluidity of purpose. Good Girl Dinette would be right at home in Silver Lake or Los Feliz, but its existence in Highland Park seems more propitious.
Tran's chicken curry pot pie proves that fusion food is no longer the domain of sleek, pricey restaurants, and that the practice of mixing and matching culturally driven cuisines has trickled down to street level. The pot pie is stuffed with curry, spice and shredded chicken, along with chunks of carrot and potato, and topped with a homemade biscuit. Then there's Grandpa's Porridge, a thick, hearty bowl of brown rice, shredded chicken and Napa cabbage.
Spicy fries sizzle, generously sprinkled with garlic, chili and cilantro; a North Vietnamese take on pho is harmony in a bowl; sandwiches of slow-roasted Niman Ranch pork and roasted oyster mushrooms are served on flaky baguettes with homemade cilantro-Maggi mayonnaise and Vietnamese pickles; and the vegan maple bread pudding tastes like a soft, sugared cloud.