There was a day, a few decades ago, when haute cuisine -- picture Lobster Thermidor or those pheasant dishes served under silver domes -- was the only type of food to merit substantial mention among food reviewers.
But Jane and Michael Stern were instrumental in changing that. The duo began to highlight "Roadfood" in their Gourmet magazine columns, those humbler eats that were unhaute as all get-out and arrived at a lower price point. And one of their favorite places in all of America? Cassell's Burgers in Koreatown.
The patty joint's reputation grew and grew, and though it closed shop in 2012, fans of the oh-so-'40s diner kept their fingers crossed for a possible revival.
The revival arrived at the end of last year via a soft opening for the classic burger joint, which is no longer in its longtime 6th Street location but not too far away: It's now inside The Hotel Normandie at 605 S. Normandie Avenue.
And the burgers are still royalty, but they've been joined by a few fresh touches, like an American banchan service that pays tribute to the restaurant's Koreatown setting. (If you've done Korean barbecue, you know the beauty of ordering plentiful tasty sides.) The Cassell's banchan means you "get all sides when you order" -- potato salad, cole slaw, et cetera -- and you can get more of whatever you fancy.
The cross-fire broiler is still in place, lending the patties the flavor they've made famous since 1948, and breakfast choices are available for the non-hamburgians out there. Oh, and something you may have not enjoyed at Cassell's back in the day, too: tony, made-for-a-chic-hotel cocktails.
When's the grand opening? That's TBD, says a restaurant rep. But if you've had the taste for the burger made famous by Jane and Michael Stern and dozens of other writers who favor hamburgers over haute cuisine, or perhaps in addition to it -- it's a big food universe, after all -- you can visit Cassell's before the red ribbon is officially cut: It's open for business.