Remains of L.A.

Traces of L.A.'s past can still be found, in the kitsch of '50s diners and the decayed glamour of '40s hotspots… and sometimes the food is good, and there are nice people.

(1959) Tallyrand, Burbank

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tallyrandsignWent to the Tallyrand for lunch with my friend Cassie. I thought I’d eaten at the Tallyrand once and hadn’t been that crazy about it, but since it was on the list I was ready to give it another go. As soon as I stepped inside, I knew I’d never been there before. That was some other place I didn’t like much. I have no idea what that other place was.

-There are several rooms; the main room that we sat in is large and sunny, with maroon booths and wood tables and chairs, a disturbingly ugly carpet with a pattern of reddish-brown and greenish-brown shapes, paintings that seem to be Parisian store-fronts (I’m guessing at Parisian, but you know the type) and a fake red brick wall. There’s a sort of corridor with a counter and bucket seats; the backs of the seats are only a couple feet from the windows. Past that there’s another large room, much cozier, with yellow walls and round orange booths, and paintings of nice country scenes. Also a prettier carpet. Then there’s yet another area off the main room where we sat; it’s down a few steps and has a bar and some tables and chairs and white paneled walls and feels much more like a lounge, possibly because of all the potted plants. You can tell that thirty-five years ago this was quite the spot for singles who would like to maybe not be singles anymore. It could still be, I don’t know.

-I got the hot turkey sandwich, which was spectacular and tasted like a miniature Thanksgiving dinner. I chose it largely because next to it on the menu there was a little thumbs up and speech bubble that said “Huell Howser’s favorite!” Then a while later I noticed that the regular turkey dinner said the same thing and felt cheated. Do they mean he just really liked turkey?

tallyrand2-All the waitresses loved Cassie’s dress, which was long and floaty and white. She told them all about the website where she bought it, which was This sounds like an ad, but it’s not it was just a great dress.

-Over the top of the doorway that leads to the lounge is a piece of wood engraved with huge letters: FAMILY * FRIENDS * TRADITIONS.” It’s the kind of thing that would seem extremely cheesy if they’d just bought it in a store somewhere, but as it was clearly made for this place it comes across as sort of sincere, like someone really thought about what they wanted to put up there.

-An elderly couple came in and wandered around for a bit arguing over where to sit. The man finally chose a table, pointed to a chair, and barked “sit there! Just sit there!” until his wife sat down. Then he sat too and immediately said, “oh, I can’t sit here.”

-There is a statue near the door of a pig in a chef’s hat. I could do a blog that was entirely just pictures of statues of animals dressed as cooks that I see in restaurants. It’s astonishing how many places have them if you keep your eye out, places you’d never expect. Maybe the restaurants don’t do it on purpose, maybe there’s some sort of bandit who breaks in and leaves them there, and the manager just thinks the owner did it and vice-versa, and no one likes to say anything.

-There was a middle-aged couple sitting near us, a man and a woman, who looked perfectly normal till they stood up, at which point we realized they were dressed identically. Same shorts and knee-high socks and shoes and orange t-shirts and baseball caps. There was no way they didn’t plan that. There weren’t any logos so I don’t think it was a uniform. I think they just liked dressing alike.

tallyrand1-The waitresses were complaining how hot it was downstairs. “It’s like a sauna down there! I know the key is MIA, but this is crazy!” I suppose the key is the key to the AC controls? I hope they didn’t mean no one cold get out.

-There’s an antique-looking ornately carved armoire against one wall, made into the coffee serving station. It doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the decor, but I enjoyed looking at it. I always think the best decorated rooms are full of things people put there because they liked them, not just because they went well with everything else. This armoire was clearly something someone had liked and wanted to put in their restaurant.

-I got a straw and could not open the wrapper for anything. I finally had to use the nail clippers on my key chain. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that before.

-In addition to the Huell Howser redundancy, the menu has a little star with “the best” written next to both the beef liver and the fresh salmon. I mean, I don’t like to cause a scene, but come on.

-Down in the lounge/bar area, there was one round corner booth full of people; eight or nine of them. There was a woman in a wheelchair seated at the corner of the booth and as I walked by she spilled her drink over both herself and a little bit of the table. The woman next to her jumped up to help her, but everyone else just sat there and watched placidly. One of the other people said in a flat voice, “That was an Arnold Palmer, wasn’t it? That’s going to be cold and sticky.” This one person was scrambling to wheel her out of the way and help her wipe up and no one else did anything. I thought they were jerks. Also the woman who jumped up was a little person, which doesn’t matter but helps paint the picture.

What I Ate:  Hot turkey sandwich, one of Cassie’s french fries, a bit of avocado off of Cassie’s sandwich.

Who I Ate With/Things We Talked About: Cassie; fried pickles, Patton Oswalt, the movie “To Die For,” roller rinks, my absolute inability to wear white without immediately spilling all food all over myself.

What Sort of Ghost I’d Expect to Find if I Believed in Ghosts Which I do Not: Two best friends who liked to put on polyester shirts and go the lounge and try to buy drinks for ladies.

1700 W Olive Ave, Burbank, CA 91506


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