These twin establishments opened today on Pico near Veteran, across the street from Islands.
The set-up is a little odd. You order the food (burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, a very rudimentary selection fountain sodas) at a small counter inside one storefront called Colony Café, while next door they have a larger room called Papas Porch, with indoor coffee-house style seating and an entirely separate set of offerings: coffee and tea, pastries, Dr. Bobs ice cream, frozen yogurt, shakes, smoothies, and a much more interesting selection of sodas. (I sure wish we had known about the second rooms selection before we wasted calories on Sprite and Barqs out of the machine!) The front is a very attractive and comfortable covered patio in sorta-Beach-Club (or maybe Cape Cod) style.
We first ordered food from the Colony Café side: a chopped salad with grilled chicken, a BLTA, and a kids burger. We were not too impressedthe salad ($9) had little flavor and the dressing choices were mediocre , the BLTA ($8) had only a smidge of avocado and was small, the kids burger ($4; adult-size burgers are about $6-8, fries are extra) was OK but not nearly as flavorful as the one PayOrPlay Jr. ordered at Islands last weekend. Overall the food seemed to be about on a par with latter-stage Johnny Rockets and places of that ilk: very middle of the road, not too strong on flavor or flair, best summarized as fast food served slowly.
We then moved over to the Papas Porch side to try dessert. I had apple crisp with a scoop of Dr. Bobs vanillait was the first piece of this dessert that anyone had ordered and the server had to overcome some challenges to serve this to me (no serving spoon, no warming plate to put it in the microwave, not sure how to enter it in the error-prone computer) but it was pretty tasty when finished. We also tried some vanilla and peanut butter frozen yogurt which was fine, probably not quite up to the neighborhood yogurt standards set by Big Chill and Mondo Gelato (the latter, located a few blocks awahy between Coldstone and Coffee Bean, is not too well known but has an absolutely kick-ass plain-yogurt fro-yo as well as excellent gelato), but these other places dont have the same range of sweet offerings or the same comfortable environment as Papas Porch has, at least on opening day.
Service was very friendly, provided mainly by a gaggle of young women in their teens and 20s who worked hard to get around first-day jitters (the computers crashed twice while we were there) and who seemed to know almost everyone who came inclearly the effort is being made to be a neighborhood establishment, even though the place has the feeling of a chain-in-the-making. Surprisingly they are following a no-tipping policy, at least to start, which is too bad because they certainly earned one.
Id certainly make allowances for the opening-day confusions, but Im not sure the food was good enough to justify any great hope for the Colony Café side of the establishment. Better burgers, sandwiches, and salads can be found all up and down this stretch of Pico, most emphatically at John OGroats and also Apple Pan, Jack Sprats, Rancho Park Golf Course, Islands, and even Martys, not to mention the wonderful Bosnian onionburger at Aroma on Overland. None of those places are as nice-looking or comfortable as this one, however, so maybe thats the need it will fill.
Papas Porch holds some promise as a dessert place, although I hope they decide to stay open later than 9pm, and I wish they had a more eclectic selection of ice cream (why 4 variations on chocolate/vanilla mixes, plus plain vanilla, strawberry, and coffee, instead of some of Dr. Bobs more interesting flavors?)but still way way better than Coldstone down the street. And, again, more attractive than the alternatives.
Colony Café / Papas Porch
10937 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
fax (310) 470-8951
Open Daily 11am-9pm