The new place to go for American comfort food

The restaurant’s po’ boy sandwiches are simple but satisfying.
The restaurant’s po’ boy sandwiches are simple but satisfying. Charlotte Pert

The new place to go for American comfort food

Drawing on cuisines from all over the US, Lone Pine Cafe serves up po’ boys, ribs, chilli, steaks and gumbo in an eatery that conjures the mythical feel of a roadside diner

The Lone Pine Cafe is the new eatery from the couple behind Street 51’s popular Taqueria Corona. Instead of Tex-Mex, this time they’re doing classic American dishes from Southern gumbo and po’ boys to Buffalo wings, chilli, burgers and ribs.

Co-owner William Brown – who hails from California but has lived all over the US – says the inspiration was America’s now semi-mythical roadside diners that exist “somewhere on a lost highway” serving up comfort food for weary travellers from all corners of the country.

Savoury, Louisiana-style gumbo stew from the Lone Pine Cafe
Savoury, Louisiana-style gumbo stew from the Lone Pine Cafe. Charlotte Pert

It’s a neat, bustling little place, with cream walls and varnished wood furniture. Retro touches like shiny metal overhead fans, art deco-ish light fixtures and the waitresses’ 1950s-style dresses evoke that diner feel. A series of black and white photos take the viewer on a cross-country road trip with images of gas stations, lonely highways and epic mountain landscapes.

Since the soft opening two weeks ago, I have visited three times, taking advantage of an introductory half-price offer in place while the staff find their feet and any other kinks are ironed out. Each time, the service has been unimpeachably friendly and attentive. The waitresses fell over themselves to be helpful – one came back to confirm our order three times.

Memorable dishes include the Bacon Onion Cheese Biscuits ($3) – nibbles of savoury dough just-out-of-the-oven fresh – which are moist and delicious with a slather of butter and Mr B’s Gumbo Ya Ya ($7.50), a chunky gumbo-licious Louisiana stew with hunks of chicken and flavoursome andouille sausage. The Cajun Po’ Boys ($7.50) – baguette sandwiches also from Louisiana filled with either shrimp, fish, chicken or steak – are simple but satisfying fare while the Cheesy Smashed Potatoes ($3) are, as the menu describes, “lumpy goodness”.

A diner sits at the bar after the lunchtime rush
A diner sits at the bar after the lunchtime rush. Charlotte Pert

If you’re hungry, the Chilli Cheese Fries ($7.50) are a good option. Served with grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream on top of a pile of thick cut Steak Fries, they’re a moreish pile of ground meat and carbs. If that’s not enough, get some Wings of Desire (four chicken wings for $4.75 or eight for $7.50) with blue cheese dip which makes for a delicious shared side-dish well worth some sticky fingers. The Sauteed String Beans ($2.50) would be a healthy option, except that they come with bacon.

Steer clear of the Memphis Hunk Ribs ($8.75), which were the only real disappointment. Like a pork loin roast with the ribs still attached – the co-owner Brown said he was inspired by the famously meaty ribs served at Kampot’s Rusty Keyhole – mine was tough and chewy and a chore to finish.

I’ve yet to go near the drinks menu – or the extensive array of burger varieties for that matter – but the margaritas ($15 for a pitcher) use the same recipe as at Taqueria Corona and there’s a range of bottled beers and spirits available, too.

People like Brown’s original restaurant for the satisfying food served in a comfortable environment by friendly staff. The same formula – albeit with burgers substituting for burritos – ought to work similarly well here.

The Lone Pine Café is located at #14 Street 282.

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