You may or may not know this, but there is a restaurant in Bakersfield that people fly into directly for a meal before flying out. The ultimate destination restaurant.
Of course, it’s at the Bakersfield Municipal Airport on South Union Avenue, and it used to be the Rocket Shop Cafe, but it has recently reopened as The Glitz Cafe. And they do have a burger that I understand could inspire some aviation dreams.
I realize that the pilots of these small planes are looking for a reason to get up in the air, like the man who was traveling with what appeared to be his father while we visited on a recent Saturday morning. They had a small blue-and-white two-seater plane that was parked right near the restaurant, well off the runaway, and we saw it right near the window at our table. My companion looked at it and immediately flashed back to small plane trips on our travels that made her uncomfortable. Considering that there was space for two people and little else, I can’t imagine it would offer a stable ride, and as we watched small plane after small plane take off into the great blue yonder while we dined, we got a new appreciation for modern jumbo jets. As we finished our food, they left the diner, climbed back in and motored off to the runway.
We can’t recall the last time we visited Rocket Shop when it was still open, but Glitz does look spiffed up, with a wall above the front door offering natural wood shiplap with artificial greenery that was pretty cool. It seems like a very clean place, lots of light from those open windows facing the airstrip, a horseshoe bar where drinks and food are served, the open ceiling/visible duct look and a concrete floor.
I should warn you that staff members were not wearing masks though hand sanitizer was available at the cash register near the door. Based on emails, it seems everyone wants to know info like this in my reports. You could social distance easily as it was seat yourself and the place was not overrun.
What I found interesting about the menu was that you could get either three-egg or five-egg omelets. I began wondering what a five-egg omelet looked like, as I’m a two-egg guy when making them at home and I assume those gargantuan creations I see in some restaurants have to be three eggs. My companion, thus intrigued, ordered the five-egg chile verde omelet ($13.99) as someone had told us the chile verde was made in house. I had to order the cowboy burger ($13.99).
I won. The worst thing I could say about the burger is that the bun was an indistinctive sesame seed creation, and that the waitress did not ask me how I wanted the 8-ounce patty prepared so it was served well done. A beef patty this size, imperfectly hand-shaped, should be medium at best to retain its juiciness.
What I loved about it was the six pieces of extra crispy applewood-smoked bacon, the three large onion rings, the red, sweet and juicy small tomato discs on the bun, the decent barbecue sauce, the cheese — the whole thing was an astounding handful. Served with crinkle-cut fries, it was definitely something I’d come back for, even if I didn’t have to fly a distance.
My companion’s omelet, however, was marred by one feature: the pork used in the chile verde was not deftly trimmed. There was a bit of fat here, a chunk of gristle, the sort of off-putting texture notes that hampered her appetite. No one is saying chile verde should be a healthy, fat-free creation, but in assembling the stew such details are important. The hash browns served with it were crispy but not as impressive as what Milt’s offers.
The menu is pretty extensive for a breakfast and lunch place with odd items like eggs with baby back ribs, a chicken-fried steak breakfast sandwich and even a chicken-fried steak burger.
Service was OK, but we had a long wait to be greeted and get a menu.
Pete Tittl’s Dining Out column appears in The Californian on Sundays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @pftittl.