There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as discovering a new lunch restaurant that’s not only close to your work but incredibly satisfying. The search for the lunch restaurant can pull coworkers apart, send one driving aimlessly and hungrily for stretches of time, and clog your internet cache with Yelp reviews. Last month I took a friend’s suggestion to meet at Chicken Maison in Redondo Beach. I have already been back three times.
Pulling into the lot, I observed several cop cars in the process of either coming or going, and I took this as an auspicious sign. Those uniformed gentlemen and women know how to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to quick and good meals. Two sheriffs were in line in front of me, and they knew the cashier on a first name basis. They made quick work of the ordering, and I was left staring dumbly at the menu, and back to the cashier, and then back to the menu once again.
“First time?” asked the cashier, in a friendly, not pretentious, manner. “Yeah,” I replied, “and literally everything looks pretty good. I’m trying to eat more fish, but the chicken looks good too. What do you suggest?” Without flinching, he pointed to the special combo of salmon and beef, noting that I could try the chicken when I come back. Like he knew I was coming back, and soon. I’m always suspect of asking the waiter/cashier what he/she likes, because I’ve worked in restaurants and know that sometimes you’re told to push a specific menu item because they overstocked one of the ingredients. Last night, for example, I went to a famous diner on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, and the waitress suggested the chicken pot pie. One bite in, I was wondering why anyone would suggest that to anyone else, ever.
My friend and I got our tickets and took a seat, among professional-looking people from some of the local aerospace companies. That’s another good sign: ID tags. One of the cashiers brought us our lunch and parted with a friendly comment or joke. The food doesn’t need too much description here, other than it was flavorful without being too intense, and satisfying without leaving you bloated and stuffed. For lunch, this experience is perfect.
I went back a week later, to try the chicken (at least that’s what I told myself), and the cashier recognized me and remembered my order. I can’t remember what brand of gasoline I pumped last, and this guy remembered my order. That was the deal-sealer for me. They are doing something right over there, and while I’m probably late to the party, I’ll not make the mistake of being an infrequent guest.