Granville Café: All Comfort — No Guilt
By Erica Wayne 07/24/2014
dineLA’s Restaurant Week is back for its summer visit and, boy, is it a goodie.
For $15-$25 mid-day and $25-$45 at dinnertime, some of the best restaurants in the area are serving up some of their most excellent dishes for which, at any other time, you would be paying a helluva lot more!
Unfortunately, as this review hits the streets, only four more days remain to splurge on all the bargains. Look at it this way: If you start right away, you can try eight separate prix-fixe meals by Sunday night and fast all next week while reliving the experience in your daydreams or, better still, on your treadmill.
There are close to 40 places to choose from without going far beyond Pasadena’s borders. But, since I’ve already indulged and written reviews about dineLA experiences at Café Bizou, Celestino, Kal’s Mediterranean Bistro, La Grande Orange, Osawa, POP, Seco, Smitty’s, Sushi Roku, Vertical Wine Bistro, The Raymond, Sesame Grill (in Arcadia) and Bashan (in Glendale), I can only advise you to take advantage of as many as possible before next Monday and sign up for notification of the next dineLA to catch up on the ones you miss this time. (Please see discoverlosangeles.com for a complete list.)
Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to head a bit west to try one of the Glendale eateries on the list. Granville Café, whose address is on Americana Way (the entrance to the very-confusing but 90-minute free parking structure) but whose front door is on South Brand Boulevard, has been in business there for about six years with a sister restaurant in Burbank. And I’m kicking myself that I waited till now to try it.
The $15 two-course dineLA lunch menu includes berry lemonade, citrus G2O (lemon and cucumber-infused water), iced tea or a nonalcoholic fountain beverage. Appetizers consist of: garlic tomato bisque, with white wine cream and basil; butternut squash soup with cranberries, walnuts and parsley; uptown mac & cheese with aged gruyere, cheddar, chicken, peas and asparagus; smoked chili with black and white beans, avocado, mushroom, tofu and eggplant; Thai ginger salad with mango, soba noodles, Asian slaw, avocado, peanuts and sesame dressing; and el gaucho salad with queso fresco, jicama, red bells, avocado, pepitas, spiced tortilla croutons, red onion, tomato and chimichurri vinaigrette.
Facing that list, it’s hard to contemplate a second course, but contemplate and order it we did. The choices included bacon and blue burger with applewood bacon, blue cheese, mushrooms, port wine reduction, horseradish aioli, caramelized onions and arugula on brioche; chicken & blue pizza with fontina, mozzarella, fig, blue cheese, prosciutto, pine nuts and red onion; and poblano quinoa with spiced pepitas, tempeh, squash, zucchini and red bells. There was also chipotle chicken club with applewood bacon, avocado, jack cheese, red onion and chipotle aioli; pan-seared rainbow trout with pepita crust, preserved lemon and butter pan sauce and grilled herb veggies; veggie churrasco pizza with seasonal vegetables, lime radicchio, caramelized onion and cilantro; and angel hair with white wine clam sauce, artichoke, basil, fennel, tomato, garlic and parmesan.
To tell you how entranced we were with the printed descriptions of all this food, I have to confess that not only did we select mac & cheese and ginger salad as starters, but paid $5 apiece for each of the two soups as well. Since, on the regular menu, there are larger portions for $8, we expected standard small cups. But the white china bowls were big and chock-full of two of the most delicious (and sinfully creamy) potages imaginable. Both, though essentially purees, had wonderful texture, with lovely chunks of tomato and croutons in the first and nuts and berries in the second.
The Thai salad was fabulous with even more elements (tomato, baby lettuces, scallion) than promised in the menu annotation. Its sesame dressing had a nice kick and ginger, mango, avocado and peanuts were generously sprinkled in. Our mac & cheese was quite good as well, but its creamy texture and subtle seasoning paled a bit when consumed in tandem with the more assertive salad.
As with the soups, we expected smaller entrées than we received. The chicken and blue pizza was a full foot in diameter with every ingredient clearly discernible by sight, taste and texture. Like Goldilocks, we found it not too big, not too small, not too hot, not too cold — you get the picture. If not, I’m sure there’s one taken by one of the Yelp contributors. Equally impressive was the enormous butterflied trout, which was crisp-skinned, jauntily perched on a huge heap of rosemary-infused charred red pepper, zucchini and yellow squash and coated in a buttery sauce with small chunks of preserved lemon.
As if that weren’t enough, Granville offered supplemental desserts for $5. There was berry patch shortcake (mixed berries, sweetened cream on an almond-buttermilk shortcake scone). Then there was lemon drop cheesecake, with tart lemon, crumb top and raspberry coulis. And how could I resist over-the-top bruleed banana chocolate-pecan brownie with caramel and whipped cream? We couldn’t and didn’t – demanding two forks and one (enormous) fudgy, nutty brownie, whose sliced banana topping had indeed been sugared and torched, all with a dollop of warm caramel that had the density of lava.
As we ate and ate and ate and ate, we admired Granville’s quirky décor. There are two dining areas, one behind the entryway with a gargantuan horseshoe bar and truss-beam ceiling, the other in front of the windowed kitchen simpler and less rustic. Each has interesting hanging lanterns, dark wood furniture, slate floors, lots of greenery and plenty of cozy booths.
As for Granville’s motto (“all of the comfort - none of the guilt”), my guess is it refers to their menu statement indicating support for “local, sustainable, organic and certified humane practices whenever possible.” Well, that certainly gives me comfort, but, alas, only the knowledge that I suffer such overindulgence solely for my readers can assuage the guilt of consuming such a rich, calorie-laden and totally satisfying meal. So, may I suggest that you (figuratively) run to Granville before this week is out? You won’t be sorry! And, PS – its adult beverage list is pretty nice as well.