Friday, February 12, 2010

Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe

Coming home from Utah, driving through Victorville about 9:15 a.m., I called and got directions to Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe, located at 17143 D Street on Route 66 in Victorville (760-243-9938). I'd seen it featured on an episode of Diner's Drive-ins and Dives and it was included in one of the Triple D books Judy gave me for Christmas. I took the D Street exit, right near the Mojave River, in the wash, then turned north following Route 66 along the train tracks. It was about a mile up the road. I was a little taken back. It had an old faded sign, dirt to park on (I wouldn't even call it a parking lot), but had quite a few cars parked around it.
"Dive" is definitely a word I would apply to it. I walked in the front door and was a little taken aback. It is very tiny, filled mostly by the grill, with one counter and barstools around it and a few small tables on the perimeter. It was definitely a trucker crowd and I was a little uncomfortable at first. It seemed like everyone knew each other. However, the guy I sat next to at the counter was very friendly and it was quickly full with people standing around waiting for a place to sit. They had pork chops and eggs on the menu and I asked if they could cook the pork chops rare. The proprietor, Shawna Gentry, said "no problem." However, I've made this same request before and then gotten my overcooked dry pork chops from the kitchen with the response that the cook is required to cook pork to a certain temperature. So, with some skepticism, I responded that most restaurant restaurants won't undercook pork. She said, "I don't care, we'll cook it however you want. Do you want it rare or medium rare." So I said rare.

So I cut into the pork chop and found that they really meant rare. It was perhaps a little undercooked for my taste, but I was so thrilled to have it that way that I dug in and enjoyed it.

Shawna said that her cook likes things under done and that he often complains about people wanting to cook all of the taste out of the meat. Now that's my kind of guy. While I was eating, the person next to me watched the cook putting together a sandwich with egg and other ingredients and asked the cook if he would do one like that for her, but with bacon. He responded, "any way you want it." By now I believed him. This is my kind of place. My breakfast also included biscuits and gravy. The gravy was about par, but the biscuits were nice and warm and a little moist in the middle. I enjoyed them more with butter than I did gravy.

My meal, with tax, came out to a very modest $8.50 or so. Then I notice the "Cash Only" sign and panicked. I sheepishly went to the counter and explained my problem. I only had $7.00 in cash. Shawna said no problem, she owned the place and the $7.00 covered it. I was so impressed (and appreciative) by how she handled the situation that I vowed to come back again and again and bring them business. When I got to work, I got a $5.00 bill and put it in the mail to her. I plan to come back and try some of the burgers and other fare. It is nothing fancy, but it is rib stickin' and cheap. And I really appreciate their willingness to do things the customer's way.

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