Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Proud Bird Restaurant, Los Angeles, CA - Restaurant Review/Obituary

We went to SoCal last weekend to visit Prita's parents.  A few weeks ago, I read an article on another blog I follow, the Cranky Flier blog, about an aviation-themed restaurant called The Proud Bird on the grounds of LAX.  Sadly, this article had been posted because the Proud Bird would be shutting down on November 21st, as the city of LA wanted to increase the rent beyond what the owners wanted to pay.  We just happened to be flying in to LAX right at lunchtime, so we had the perfect excuse to check it out.  After the break, enjoy my review, but if you like what you read, you'll have to hurry if you want to try the place out yourself.  As mentioned above, next Friday is the end of the line (hence the "obituary" part of the title).

The Proud Bird
11022 Aviation Blvd. (on LAX property, near the intersection of the 105 and 405 freeways)
Los Angeles, CA 90045
11-8 Mon-Sat, 9-8 Sun
Website link in the first paragraph

From the moment you get here, you can tell that this is a restaurant designed for airplane geeks.  Even the parking lot is full of old military planes.

The inside of the restaurant also has several photo exhibits chronicling both LA-area and U.S. aviation history.

So what about the food?  The Proud Bird has a fairly typical American menu, though tilted a bit towards seafood, as you would expect from a restaurant a mile from the beach.  They had an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet option for (I think) $17.95 per person; I'm not sure if this was just a Friday lunch thing, or if it's a daily option.  They also advertise Sunday brunch.  In any event, I had the "French Picnic", which gives you a cup of soup of your choice plus half a club sandwich for $10.  I choose the beer cheese soup.

The soup was absolutely delicious - thick and rich, with bits of bacon and a hearty beer flavor.  The sandwich was pretty good, too, though it's pretty hard to mess up a club sandwich.  My wife had a crab cake for an appetizer, and fish and chips for the main course (we ended up sharing the chips).

Prita finished every last morsel of that crab cake, so I can only take that to mean that she liked it. I tried a piece, and it was good, but I prefer the Maryland variety.  Prita said she really liked the fried fish, and the fries were nice and crispy, without being excessively greasy.  The food was brought out quickly, though service otherwise was a little on the slow side, especially since the restaurant was half empty.

My one big complaint about this place is that they attach a 15% surcharge to your bill, ostensibly because of LAX's "living wage" ordinance.  I find this practice of levying a surcharge in lieu of raising menu prices dishonest, and I generally boycott establishments that do this, though I had to make an exception in this case.  What bothered me more, though, were the rather obnoxious (and repeated) reminders that this surcharge wasn't a gratuity, and that an additional gratuity was expected (the server even made sure to circle this on the check).  I thought the point of paying servers a proper wage was so that you wouldn't have to tip, like in Europe?

Anyway, we spent a few minutes afterwards walking around the open-air airplane museum in the back of the restaurant.  They have a pretty cool collection, if you're in to that sort of thing.

The restaurant is located perpendicular to one of LAX's main landing paths, so if plane watching is your thing, you can get some great photos on a clear day.  First on tap today was U.S. Airways...

Followed by Delta...
Then AA...
And finally, my favorite of the afternoon, the Queen of the Skies, a British Airways 747.

The Verdict

The food was pretty good, but really, you come here for the experience more than anything else.  This is an especially good place to bring the kids, number one because they have plenty of place to run around, and number two, the airplanes provide a good distraction if your kids like airplanes.  I dock them half a star for their surcharge policy, though.

Rating:  3 1/2 stars

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