It's a chalet-ish slice of mid-century optimism serving up huge meals, old-fashioned service, and a cozy atmosphere. It's Clearman's North Woods Inn, or just Clearman's, and the small chain of SoCal eateries has developed a devoted following over the years. Families come for the long sturdy tables and kid-friendly feel, history buffs for its longevity and throwbackiness to an era where roadside architecture had to wow, and people who like lumberjack-sized sandwiches come for the lumberjack-sized sandwiches (they are actually touted on the menu as such).
We're fans of all of those things, but the pre-meal basket of peanuts, and the woodsy signs that invite us to throw our shells on the floor, are our own personal heart-grabbers. We love this Clearman's feature, not only because we're a friend to the nut, but also because in a tidy, stay-in-the-lines kind of world, this has a bit of fun and adventure to it. Yes, we said adventure. What restaurant would sit by and watch diners throw empty shells on the floor? It makes us feel the tiniest bit bad, in a good way.
So we salute those famous signs, and what they represent. We'll be back soon to San Gabriel or La Mirada or Covina to eat peanuts in a politely unruly fashion, always tossing our shells to the ground with impudence and a hint of cheek.