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Restaurants & Bars 8

REVIEW: Katella Grill, Orange

Das Ubergeek | Feb 24, 200809:02 AM

I hate trying to find a place to eat on the spur of a moment when that moment is Saturday at 7 PM. Especially for a place that's sit-down and where we can enjoy some quiet non-baby conversation.

So we went to Marri's. Busy busy busy. Carolina's ditto. El Torito Grill (what can I say?) told us the wait was "an hour? *shrug*". So we headed east... even J T Schmid's would be OK... but there was an event at the Pond and when that happens, they charge $10 for parking even if you're going to the restaurant.

Next thing was... Carino's? I don't think so. Lazy Dog Cafe? Meh. King's Fish House had a line out the door. Chili's... well... we ARE getting desper... hey, what about Katella Grill? Never been, let's try it.

It's pretty much your typical diner-type place (no, New Jersey hopefuls, it's not a REAL diner, sorry). If you've been to Tallyrand in Burbank, you've been to Katella Grill in Orange. Katella's kept cleaner and better kept-up.

The wait was described as 20 minutes, so we hung out. The table became available after about 10 minutes, which was nice. What they didn't tell us was the wait for a server. That was another twenty minutes -- no drinks, no nothing.

"I'm going to have a turkey and avocado sandwich," said my wife.

"You're having nothing at all if a waitress doesn't show up soon."

Finally she showed up and took our drink orders.

"We're ready to order," I said.

"Okay, let me go get your drinks and I'll be right back."

Eight minutes later (yes, I timed it -- there was a clock on the wall), she returned with water and iced tea. We finally ordered -- the aforementioned sandwich for my wife, and the roast pork loin special for me. My wife ordered a salad, and mine came with soup or salad. The salads came right out -- lettuce, carrots and cucumber, which made me happy -- they're smart enough not to send out those pink grenades that are February tomatoes. Ranch dressing was institutional, which was fine. We got a basket of soft rolls -- the brown bread was much better (though sweet), the white bread was a bit gummy.

We finished the salads... and waited... and waited.

We'd have flagged down a server or busboy to enquire as to the location of our food -- how long could it POSSIBLY take to make a sandwich and a nightly special? -- but there were literally no staff in our section. The group across the aisle from us had spent their meal running the staff ragged (forgive me for this description, but it was exactly the stereotype of fussy old women -- including the $1.80 tip they left), so I assume they were afraid to come near us.

Finally the food arrived. My wife's sandwich looked tasty if lettuce-heavy, and came with fruit salad and cole slaw, which she pronounced quite good. I tried the sandwich and it was not bad at all.

And then there was my food. Which had quite obviously been sitting under a heat lamp in the pass-through for double-digit minutes. The creamed corn had developed skin. The mashed potatoes had taken on that shiny "I'm not fresh" look. The dressing had compressed, and the pork... oh good Lord, the pork was as dry as crackers. Even with gravy (which was quite good and thankfully didn't taste tinned) it was quite hopeless. A spoonful of sauce covers a multitude of sins, but this was... bad. The "apple dressing" appeared to be bread and sage only, but was not bad at all (not overly salty, which is the gremlin that lurks in every restaurant's dressing).

There were good bits. The applesauce seemed to be fresh-made, and the potatoes themselves were well-flavoured and buttery though I had an enormous lump in mine (at least it proves they started as potatoes and not as a box of mix!). Once I deskinned the corn and added salt, it was very, very tasty.

My wife definitely got the better end of the deal there.

The service was so slow as to be non-existent, and the waitress apparently had to pay for her vocabulary by the word so there was a lot of silence, so my tip was the flat 15% to the penny... which is unusual.

I get the feeling they're one of those places that might be OK for breakfast -- and I'm going to sit at the counter. But I don't foresee myself going back for dinner unless I get an idiot-proof sandwich.

Katella Grill
1325 W Katella Ave, Orange, CA 92867

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