A list of house rules posted at the Serving Spoon includes admonitions to relinquish a table when you’ve finished so others have a chance to eat and “if you encounter a celebrity sighting, give them the respect of allowing them to complete their dining experience should you decide to approach them.” The rules make sense: the Serving Spoon is so popular that it’s common to wait for a table; and it is a magnet for a cadre of Los Angeles glitterati. For all that, it is tremendously friendly. New arrivals are greeted at the door by a host who is nothing but hospitable.
On a podium up front, a sign says if there will be a wait for a table and how long it might be. When the time comes, you will be directed to a booth or table or armchair seat at a long diner-style counter. ESPN plays on a few overhead TVs, but unless an important event is on, it is totally drowned out by an ebullient room that bustles with conversation, music, and good vibes. Everyone who eats here seems very happy to be doing so; and that good cheer is amplified by a staff who all seem equally happy to be on the job. My waitress fretted terribly when I didn’t finish all my fried chicken, insisting I take it with me in a to-go box along with veggies and cornbread that I hadn’t polished off.
The menu features such homespun items as chicken and waffles, pork chops, catfish, and vegetables galore. In fact, on a recent visit, I forewent an entrée altogether and enjoyed a four-“vegetable” plate that included sweet potatoes spiced like Christmas and tender, clumpy collard greens that were as satisfying as meat. Also on the plate were that beloved southern-style vegetable, mac ‘n’ cheese, which was spicy, soft, and satisfying, and a bowl of thick, brightly-spiced, beanless chili con carne. On the side came a slab of cornbread nearly as sweet as pound cake; and the meal concluded with syrupy peach cobbler.
Notes: *As limited as seating may be, parking can be even scarcer. *Serving Spoon’s location makes it an ideal first or last stop on the way from or to LAX.