GAC TV? What in the hades is GAC TV? “Great American Country”. As much as most of South Los Angeles is still afraid of being lynched in Alabama, GAC TV has somehow reached the most deliciously random Southern restaurant in all LA (and no, it’s not the Hart and the Hunter). Last year, GAC TV visited R&J Southern Cooking in Downey, and filmed a segment for Kimberly’s Simply Southern. A little preface: Kimberly Schlapman is apparently a country singer and belongs to a the group “Little Big Town” which just won a Grammy for best duo/group performance for “Pontoon”. GAC TV is actually available on Verizon channel 223, Charter channel 160, Time Warner 122. Really, you can watch Great American Country TV in Los Angeles. Thank you Scripps.
Back to Downey, CA: Julie Petersen, I’m in love with your chocolate butt(er cake).
I haven’t eaten at too many Southern diners in LA (only enough to form an opinion?) but R&J, out of all the Carolyn’s, Hambone’s, Bertha’s, R&R’s, M&M’s, Dulan’s, etc. should be everyone’s short list.
Did I mention Julie is a bombshell and smells like.. I don’t know… a New Orleans belle? Not that I’d know what beautiful women in New Orlean ought to smell like, but I’m pretty certain Ms. Julie possess the floral essence of Nola. After a thorough digging, it appears other than the freshman foodie show hosted by celeb country singer, the only lip service ever paid to R&J soul was in the local rag, Downey Patriot. In the article, we find out Ms. Petersen is one-quarter Korean, one-quarter Mongolian, and half African-American. The food here? A mixture of Southern, and New Orleans.
There’s boudin blanc (pronounced and written as “boudain” on the menu), there’s a really decent jambalaya over dirty rice, there is “bomb wings”, and there is perhaps LA’s best rendition of chicken and waffles. The fried chicken here is well salted, fried to order, and carries a thin crispy crunch dotted with peppers. The waffle is large, and comes with plump winglets. The offering is very basic — there are no saucers on the plate, no slices of orange as plate decoration, no free roughage, no diagonally dressed sauce. For boudin blanc, you get one stuffed sausage, and a small bowl of sides. That’s literally what comes on your plate. The 2 hot sauces are from Mississippi, and they’re always available.
Sometimes there are earthy Southern desserts, but always there are lunch specials for the workingman. Without this core constituent, R&J would’ve closed long ago. Despite a late 2012 refurbishing which seems to be ongoing, R&J is still a diner true and true. Selfishly, one hopes Guy Fieri never visits, but the dive really really needs the PR despite making everything in house, despite carrying more soul than any “comfort American” food stand in Santa Monica. There are no celebs in the kitchen, just a Latino couple, and Ms. Julie’s homecooking history. The restaurant has an extremely awkward layout anchored by a right-angled laminated bar which hinders dining room service. Perhaps the extra steps required have given the staff all enviable gluts. Perhaps they should cut a path through the bar.
The reason why Ms. Schlapman — who must be a member of That Tribe — visited R&J Southern though, is actually for the chicken and dumplings. Those who are more keen to Asian dumplings may find European dumplings rather foul, so Ms. Julie may recommend the chicken curry (!?!?) and the turkey chops instead. Next up on my list is probably the oxtail. How many restaurants in LA offers all this? None. Here in Downey, a rather depressed area dominated mostly by Latino blue-collar workers, not one single Hadley & Bennett apron, nor Heath ceramicware, nor mustaches will be spotted. Ever.
Here are some photos from the TV crew visiting R&J’s for the chicken & dumplings episode.
- « Visiting LA James Beard Noms: Tar & Roses, Sycamore Kitchen
- » Downey Coverage Continued: 30 Taps of Craft Beer at Uncle Henry’s Deli