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Restaurants & Bars 17

REVIEW: Granville Cafe, Burbank

Das Ubergeek | Jan 27, 200804:33 PM

Before we begin the review, those of you who did not grow up speaking Yiddish with friends' parents and grandparents need to learn an important vocabulary word that is the theme of today's review: "ongepotchket", pronounced "UNN-guh-PAHTSH-kit". It means "overwrought". When applied to home decor, ongepotchket means overdone to the point of being ugly. When applied to food, though, it refers to something that has just too much stuff in it to be good.

Granville, which is lauded as one of the best restaurants in Burbank, has ongepotchkette food. It would be sublime if they dialled it back JUST a little.

Case in point: my wife and daughter and I went for a late lunch today. I ordered the Uptown Mac & Cheese ($12.95) and a cup of the soup of the day, which was ribeye stew ($3.95). My wife ordered a chipotle chicken club sandwich and sweet potato fries ($10.95).

The stew was very good -- the cup was what I would consider a bowl, with a lot of very good ribeye in it, a cipollino onion, baby carrots and celery in a wine-rich broth. A scoop of mashed potatoes floats on top, a nice nod to the usual potato chunks in a beef stew. It comes with onion flatbread, which is excellent. The problem is that someone decided they had to amp what would be a fantastic stew up with a dollop of Point Reyes bleu cheese. So I'm munching my way through the stew, very happily, and all of a sudden I'm assaulted by the unexpected tang of bleu cheese. Too much, and the taste lingered. Ongepotchket!

The Uptown Mac 'N Cheese contains macaroni, cheese sauce, chicken, peas and asparagus, which is then covered with bread crumbs and run (I assume) under the salamander to brown the top. Given the perfect marriage between the velvety cheese sauce and the wider-than-normal macaroni, this would be a contender for Best Mac 'N Cheese in the city... so perfect that when I cut a noodle in half to feed my daughter, that fantastic sauce bubbled out both eneds. But the chicken was rubbed with some bizarre spice and grilled to charred edges. It overpowered the taste of the mac 'n cheese and the nice green hits from the vegetables. Ongepotchket!

My wife's sandwich was a fantastic-looking club on a very nice-looking ciabatta roll. The same chicken as in my mac 'n cheese was there and worked well with peppered bacon, the various veggies, and the aioli... but that chipotle provided too much heat, so that bites with less chipotle felt insipid. Ongepotchket again.

And then we have the sweet potato fries. I'm convinced that frying is the worst possible preparation for sweet potatoes there is (pie would be the best, with roasted on charcoal being a close second) -- but normally they're pretty innocuous things. The fries were coated in chiffonaded parsley, though, and it lent a slightly bitter taste to shockingly sweet fries. Yep, ongepotchket.

They have a Pinot Grigio on the menu, and I don't remember which, that tastes like Squirt soda. Don't do it.

Service is generally good but they do suffer from the usual issue of trying and failing to pay for the food you've consumed -- it took longer to flag down the waiter to get the bill paid than it did to order and receive the food. A note: at weekday lunch, you order at the counter and seat yourself, à la Corner Bakery, and the food is brought to you. All other times, it's normal table service.

The food would be worth driving for if they would just dial back the weird, creative additions -- and "creative" is not a compliment here. I'm willing to order things customised to skip it, but it means each new dish is a disappointment until I figure out how to get rid of the ongepotchketkeit.

Granville Cafe
121 N San Fernando Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502

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