Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Off the Map: Departing Los Angeles on a Wing and a Pie

Banana Cream Pie -- Bandera, Los Angeles, CA

Up until this point, we have loved certain aspects of Los Angeles dining experiences: the roominess of the premises, the relative quietness of the dining rooms, the patience of the waitstaffs, and the ease with which we have been able to taste our Best Thing I Ever Ate dishes, without so much as a side glance for our peculiar ordering style.

Unfortunately, all of this west coast charm comes to a crashing halt the second we arrive at Bandera.
Way to Ruin It for Your City, Chumps
We are here to buy a single slice of banana cream pie, as spoken about by Adam Gertler on the ORIGINAL Best Thing I Ever Ate special.  We have already decided, prior to arrival, that we would just ask for the pie to go and consume it while safely back in our upgraded Beverly Hills hotel room (mostly because Vodka already had to make Ginger promise to "just stay awake until 9:30," and we only had 45 minutes to go until she turned into a comatose pumpkin).  
Stay Awake: We Have Potassium to Eat
This proves to be the correct decision, as when we enter Bandera, not only are there no seats available, at either a table or at the bar, but the place is packed.  More packed than any place we have seen in LA thus far, including the chaos that was Bay Cities Bakery and Deli.  Besides being crowded as all get-out, it is also excessively loud, both from the tinder of hundreds of voices, and from the quartet of musicians which they have inexplicably decided to place in the middle of the dining room.  Meaning that no matter which way you turn, you cannot escape the deafening noise.
Putting the 'Band' in 'Bandera'
When we ask the host how we go about procuring a slice of pie, he sends us to the bar, suggesting we "get the bartender's attention."  Yeah, easier said than done, mister, as seven minutes later, we've yet to be able to track him down over the hoard of other patrons stacked in the area.
Finally, Ginger manages to place our order, and the bartender, to his credit, is just as pleasant as all others we have encountered in this fair city, despite his surroundings.

"I hate this place," Vodka announces while we wait for our container of pie to arrive, saying each word like there's a period after it.  And the more irritated Vodka gets, and the more Ginger starts to droop, the longer our pie takes to arrive.
Much Like the Sun Setting Over Our Los Angeles Journey, Our Patience Is Decidedly Waning
"How long can it possibly take to cut a pie?" we ask after at least ten minutes have passed.  Eventually, and not before we are ready to throw said pie in someone's face, the long-suffering bartender passes it over three people's heads in order to reach us, and we hightail it out of Bandera as quickly as possible.  When we reach our hotel, Ginger approaches a member of the staff and asks if we could get two forks.

"Are you Dutch?" he asks her.


"Dutch.  Are you from Amsterdam?"

"No?" Ginger answers, once again as if English really is her second language.

"You sounded like you had a Dutch accent," he insists.  "Where are you from?"

"Ah, so you ARE from Amsterdam!" he proclaims.


"New," Vodka whispers, trying to provide an English-to-English translation of the proceedings just so we can get out of here, forks in hand.

"What?" Ginger asks.

"New Amsterdam," Vodka explains.  "New York was called New Amsterdam."

"See, so you are practically Dutch!"  The fork purveyor is insistent on hammering his point home.  
At This Juncture, We Would Have Been Better Off Eating This Pie With Our Hands
When we are eventually able to escape from him, we return to our room and deposit the pie container on Ginger's bed.  Inside is a substance that looks a bit like slop, but whether that is due to Bandera's packaging technique or to our inability to effectively carry a to-go bag is up for debate.  
Funny That Fork-Man Seemed to Know We Would Need a Napkin, Too
The pie itself, while not completely offensive, is a bit on the bland side.  It's not really sweet, not really creamy, not really crunchy, not really... anything.  And there is just SO MUCH banana (including giant slices sprinkled throughout the container), that it essentially tastes the same as a plain old banana with some flavorless whipped cream on top.  Not only is this banana cream pie not good enough to warrant coming from a regular restaurant, it is certainly not good enough to be from a place as aggravating as Bandera.
What Is With All of the FRUIT?!
And with that, our Los Angeles Best Thing I Ever Ate adventure has come to an end.  In true form, the cheerfulness that LA had lulled into us over the past couple of days has suddenly dissipated, and we are ready to return to the land of abrasive waiters, cramped barstools, and our own bad moods.

Oh, New Amsterdam, there is no place like home.

Bandera's Banana Cream Pie: 2 stars

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