Last night finally got a chance to sample the famed grilled cheese night at Campanile. I arrived at about 6:30 and was told there would be 1 hour 30-minute(!) wait. Luckily there was a Trader Joes up the street so was able to do a little shopping.
Needless to say, the place was packed but also very smokey inside, as if butter was burning badly somewhere (probably due to all the sandwiches being made). Surprising given the high roof design of the restaurant, you would expect better ventilation. Despite the long wait, we were given a crummy high-traffic table in the crowded front room right next to the main walkway and kitchen.
Our server, who could easily pass as a wannabe Ashton Kuchar, was nice enough but incompetent as a server. Campanile seems to employ a ton of employees who either just walk about back and forth aimlessly, chat amongst themselves, or stare around at nothing in particular. I tried to flag him down twice but Ashton completely ignored us. Grrr. Our water glasses stayed empty througout the evening despite several bus boys in our conspicuous area.
We started with the bib lettuce salad I sampled at Valentine's Dinner and it was good as the last time. Their bib lettuce is velvety and wonderful, and the salt and herb dressing was very light yet nicely complex. For my sandwich I ordered the croque monsieur and my guest had the turkey sandwich. I was expecting enormous sandwiches from previous posts, but these were average in size and included a refreshing arugla side salad that provided a nice foil against the richness of the sandwich. My croque monsieur was very good, although Angelique Café in downtown Los Angeles is just as good and significantly cheaper. My friend's turkey sandwich was very good, and nicely seasoned but came with a clear amber dipping sauce that had no flavor.
Dessert was an apple cobbler with a very small scoop of caramel ice cream. The cobbler was tasty, but way too floury and doughy considering such a small amount of ice cream so we ate about half of it.
All in all, my experience was very mixed. Although the sandwiches were good, the long wait, terrible service, and high prices made it a poor value. The management should take a day trip to Houston's and take a lesson on service! I doubt if I will go back anytime soon.
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