Ode to Belisle’s: Not Fine Dining, but Fine with Me.

20 Jul

While in my last year of college, I trained to be a DJ at KUCI, the on campus radio station. I started on the air solely as an “engineer” (fancy way of saying I played public service tapes), then later I applied for my own show. Seeing a hole in the grunge/rock format of the station, I proposed filling a gap with a 4 – 6am Blues Show. Not knowing much about blues artists & traditions didn’t deter me – I wanted a show. So, I would stumble in to the station at quarter ’til 4, an unpleasant hour to be awake.

In response to this odd schedule, my boyfriend and I developed this ritual of driving up to Anaheim and parking ourselves at a comfy table at Belisle’s Restaurant (open 24 hours) on Harbor, right down the street from Disneyland, for 2 – 3 hours before my radio show. It seemed much cooler to the college student me to stay up all night than to go to bed at a reasonable hour to make it in time for this volunteer radio gig. Belisle’s became a refuge for us – from roommates, from Irvine, from normalcy, from keeping decent hours. The place was in ways more important that the food itself… almost.

But now let me tell you about the food. Typical diner cuisine. “WE DAKE ‘EM BAILY”.

Very homemade and very American. But did I mention that the portions were huge? Now this was in the late 80’s & early 90’s before Claimjumper & others like it broadened and diluted this format. I remember being shocked and a bit embarrassed by the magnitude of the first meal I ordered – Turkey Dinner with Sage Dressing.

The other tradition we faithfully kept was that we always ordered dessert – sometimes only dessert. I mean, what meal would you order at 2am anyway? What is between dinner and breakfast, other than sleep? Dessert, of course. And I still hold to this mantra. Belisle’s made you notice their wide array of sweet options – you practically got accosted by the rotating pie case making your way to your table! The pies and cakes were immense, of course, and not refined or European, but that was what you expected. In fact, a lovely Mousse Torte wouldn’t do at 3am. Chocolate Cream Pie, Apple Pie a la Mode, Carrot Cake, Pecan Pie, Pecan Sticky Buns… we loved them all. Even with a bottomless cup of coffee and 3 hours, we still couldn’t polish these beasts off. But we loved trying.

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3 Responses to “Ode to Belisle’s: Not Fine Dining, but Fine with Me.”

  1. Bill July 20, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    Great story! Look forward to many more.

  2. Lauren July 22, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

    Oh my goodness – Belisles was my family’s tradition every time we went to DisneyLand. I was so sad when they went out of business. I seem to remember a giant eclair on the menu. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

  3. Leonard July 29, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    Trips down memory lane. Not sure if it was before we were married or soon after when my wife introduced me to Belisles. Mile high desserts to die for. I also did a gig as a DJ but at Mt. SAC and a much more reasonable hour of 7:00 a.m.

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