Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Upbeat Grub at Allen's Uptown

Location: Whittier, CA
Date: Sept. 10, 2011

If it wasn't for an old friend, I don't believe I would've ever experienced the alluring culinary offerings that Allen's dishes out on a daily basis. Hooked after her first visit, my Allen's insider decided I needed to try it for myself because she deemed the destination blog worthy. We went. She was right.

When we arrived, the place was small, cozy and inviting. There were no other customers at the time, so we sat at the bar and were offered the remote to their flat screen. Talk about making customers feel welcome! We were then offered three of Allen's finest: a mound of crispy golden brown steak fries smothered in rich gravy, juicy brisket, melted cheddar cheese and topped with perfectly sauteed onions, a deliciously salty blue cheese and bacon burger and a brisket sandwich coated with oh-so-sweet BBQ sauce.

Famous Gravy Fries w/ cheese
Allen's Famous Jersey Style Gravy Fries made it out of the kitchen first. Typically, I'm a french fry purest, and prefer to enjoy my strips of crisp-on-the-outside-tender-in-the-middle potatoes delicately seasoned and alone. I generally do not approve of toppings, such as chili and gravy, to rudely interfere with the integrity of my beloved fries. This dish, however, is one of Allen's most notorious, so I decided to give it a taste with an open mind. The gravy was rich, but served with restraint, so it never overpowered the other components. The onions were tender, but retained a pleasant crunch and were not too oily. The brisket was amazing. It was tender and juicy...the way all brisket should be. I know the cheese isn't melted in this picture, but the residual heat from all other ingredients melted the cheddar to a luscious velvety texture in no time. Surprisingly, the french fries at the bottom did not get too soggy. Yes, they lost their crispy texture, but the thickness of the steak fries allowed each piece of potato to retain its shape, despite being suffocated by the huge mound of invigorating ingredients. As a whole, the dish reminded me of a huge gluttonous plate of meat and potatoes delicious and more than filling enough to satisfy the world's hungriest. While the gravy fries did not convert me from my fry purest ways, they did provide me with an enjoyably tasty new dish experience. I now believe fries can be smothered in various sauces and toppings when done right. Allen's dose it right. It would be wise of all of you to try these at least once.

The gravy fries could have been a meal on their own, but did I really travel all the way to a new culinary destination to sample one lonely menu item? Forget about it! I wanted Allen's best, and the fries were only the appetizer.

BBQ Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger
The BBQ Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger was one of two sandwiches sampled. If you want to know how to make the perfect bacon blue cheese burger, talk to Allen's! The beef was juicy and a little pink, a must for any burger worth a second bite. The bacon was crispy, not soft and limp like that grotesquely tan-ish colored crap fast food restaurants try to pass off as fried pork. The vibrant green lettuce added another crisp, fresh element to go along with the bacon. The blue cheese was the creamy yin to the bacon's crispy yang. Its salty, creamy texture complemented the crispy bacon and tempted my taste buds in a way that few flavor combinations can. The element that really catapulted this burger towards the top of my list, however, was the delectable pillows of carbs that supported the bottom and covered the top of this amazing sandwich. The bun had a crusty exterior and a slightly chewy interior that held up nicely to the bold flavors inside the halves. A good bun will always take a good burger to the realm of greatness. This bun certainly delivered. Whew, two scrumptious samplings down, one to go.

BBQ Sandwich
When a sandwich is composed of three things like Allen's BBQ Sandwich (shredded Angus brisket, a bakery roll and Swiss cheese), the ingredients better be able to speak for themselves. Let me tell you, the ingredients on this sandwich spoke loud and clear. The bun here was singing the same tune it did for the burger. It was able to hold its own and support the juicy meat and smooth Swiss without absorbing too much moisture. The brisket was tender and juicy like it was on the fries. The BBQ sauce added a very appetizing sweetness. The Swiss blanketed the meat very favorably, cutting through the sauce so the sandwich didn't become too sweet. Placing the pickle inside the sandwich added a nice crunch to change up the textures and keep my mouth interested. For the record, I did not eat both of these sandwiches alone. They were split 50/50, so I had half of each.

I learned the best way to eat both sandwich halves was to alternate bites. The burger was predominantly salty. The BBQ sandwich was inherently sweet. Oscillating back and forth between sweet and salty bites really exited my sense of taste and added a little extra enjoyment to my meal. Regardless of the menu item you choose, I'm confident you'll enjoy your experience at Allen's. At Allen's, great food is proudly served on foam plates in a very friendly manner. They make everybody feel like a local.

I am proud to say that "even I ate it at Allen's!" Do yourselves a favor and check this place out.

*All photos courtesy of Natalie Lacayo.

1 comment:

  1. Classic diner with damn good looking food. If I'm ever in the neighborhood...