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REVIEW: Granville Cafe, Burbank

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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  1. Funny you should use that term in describing your meal, because while the term Ongepotchket is one I am not familiar with, I must say that when I went on their website and saw pictures of the place, that is exactly the sentiment I had. Everything looked a bit overwrought, like cluttered for no particular reason, other than one or two more of something cannot be all bad! Well, apparently it can!

    2 Replies
    1. re: carter

      No kidding! Check this out from the menu:

      Pastrami Sandwich
      Not for the faint of heart! Premium Pastrami slices layered with Roasted Poblano Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Red Onions and melted Swiss Cheese, with our Kalamata Tapenade and Garlic Aioli.

      Granville’s Chicken & Blue Pizza
Trust us on this one! Herbed All-Natural Chicken and Point Reyes Blue Cheese with Granville’s Fig Preserve, Fontina & Mozzarella Cheeses, Prosciutto, Red Onions, Basil, Herbs and Pine Nuts.

      A pastrami sandwich is not complete without poblano chilies, sun dried tomatoes, tapenade, aioli and much, much more.

      The pizza with chicken, blue cheese, fig preserves, proscuitto, pine nuts and much, much more.

      A lesson for chefs ...

      1. re: SilverlakeGirl

        I don't trust a palce who uses exclamation points on the menu.

    2. Couldn't agree more.

      Definitely will score points with the M-I-L with the new word.

      1. Uuuuugggggh!
        I went there for a happy hour one early evening to catch up with a friend...instead of catching up with eachother, we spent the whole time trying to figure out what was wrong with each thing we had ordered.
        I had heard so many people talking about this place (I kept an opened mind since there people are alos the types to discuss the best Lean Cuisines so I knew their flavor spectrum is a bit off)...ugg.
        We ordered our drinks. My Mojito was the WORST "thing" I had ever had...even with 3 limp pieces of mint, you could still taste the fake Christmasy-mint-flavor stuff that had been addded to the drink. Now, I like to drink, and could have easily polished of 2 Mojitos in the time that we were there, but I couldn't get through half of it.
        We ordered some lobster salad thing...Sh!t! It was as if they had poured a glob of honey on it and added some more sugar to it for good diabetic-coma-inducing measure. Between the sweetness of the mojito and the overly sugared salad, I thought it couldn't get worse.
        We ordered the sweet potato fries hoping to get a little savory action...nope! MORE sugar. The texture was the strangest texture...eek. I heard so many people talking about these, but then again, they are the types that are always craving crap...bless their hearts.
        Anyway, we spent most of the time wishing that we had gone across the street to Chadaka for something fresh.
        The decor of Granville is a hoot. What the hell. It was almost unsettling. But the majority of people really appear to like it and it was packed when we left.
        It's definitely a great place for sugar-loving super-size-me type people.
        On a good note, the service was pleasant and there was some great people watching to be had.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tatertotsrock

          I didn't notice the sugar, to be honest -- I ate all savoury stuff and had a glass of wine which theoretically came from a bottle -- but I have to say, ordering sweet potato fries in the hopes of something non-sweet seems a bit counterintuitive. Their herbed potato chips are pretty good, though.

        2. That's too bad. I have only been for happy hour and thought the mac n cheese (not the same as the one Das had) was very good. From the Happy Hour menu, we loved the sweet potato fries (cooked well done). Hummus is something we decided we could do without. Hamburger was deemed good. Tacos okay. Can't remember what else we have tried. We always get beer (Blue Moon for me) so have not had any of their mixed drinks or wine. We have always gone away happy.

          1. I tried this restaurant yesterday. It's a nice enough

            I tried the Turkey Cranberry Sandwich. It was one of
            the worst sandwiches I've ever had. It had very little
            turkey on it. The so called garlic aioli tasted like
            Best Foods mayonnaise (you should really make clear
            that it's mayo on your menu) and the bread was
            basically large slices of white bread. A really awful

            Some suggestions:

            Put at least more meat on the sandwich than Subway
            does (there should be more turkey on it than bread).
            When I bite into it I should taste turkey, not bread.
            Use real caramelized garlic cloves as a spread (lose
            that mayo stuff it's disgusting) and get some real
            whole grain wheat bread. Something with some taste.
            The sliced brioche taste like plain wonder bread and
            sliced much too thick.

            With such a nice place I guess I expected more than
            just a turkey sandwich on white bread with mayo. It
            was terrible.

            A dissapointed patron.

            1. I guess it's all in your perspective. As a Burbank resident, I am thrilled to have a new place to eat quality food that doesn't include the words "Outback", "Hooters" or "Fuddrucker." When most of your local food options are on that level, a flawed-but-interesting place like Granville is a welcome alternative. I guess I wouldn't travel far to eat there, but when my wife and I find a babysitter to watch the kids and want a grown-up place with American food, Granville does the trick. Damning with faint praise?

              1 Reply
              1. re: bboy

                Alternative? I would put Granville right smack dab in with those same places. "Outback", "Hooters", don't forget "Islands", "Fuddruckers" and "Granville". I won't be going back. Terrible food.

              2. Granville's service is, at best amateurish. The food is OK but the fries arrived at the table cold & soggy and obviously old while the burger was warm. The server kept me waiting for catsup while the burger grew cold. Then to top it all off, the server spilled some aioli all over my wife, her chair and herself.

                The manager was disinterested and never offered an apology. It never fails to amaze me how huge operations are left in charge of managers just barely out of puberty and who have no idea of what customer service is all about.

                Granville has a web site where customers can comment on their dining experience. Four days later I have yet to hear from their Corporate headquarters. Typical if the experience in the restaurant is any indicater.

                1 Reply
                1. re: empirejd

                  Tried the new location at the Americana in Glendale today for happy hour. The mojitos were only so-so, but also only $6. We had the mac & cheese with chicken, asparagus and peas which was yummy, tacos (the beef one with carmelized onion and bbq sauce was really good, the lobster one just ok - too much cornmeal breading), the sweet potato fries (are these ever bad as long as they're hot?) with a strong blue cheese dip, and a grilled cheese concoction with a tomato soup dipping sauce. We enjoyed all the food, and the service was fine. I'd go back, at least for happy hour(s) again.

                2. I've been here a few times (work near by), for Burbank the decor is cute (not much competition there), but looks aside, every meal I've had at Granville has left me disastisfied. I agree that the food has just too much going on. It's fru fru chain food - not in a good way. For those of you Cheesecake Factory lovers, I'd rank Granville like 10 notches below that.

                  If you find yourself on San Fernando in need of food, head up the street to Chadaka Thai, IMO decent decor, and much better food and drink.

                  1. Tried Granville Cafe at the Americana this weekend and was disappointed with both the food and the service. I ordered the Granville Salad (or a mediocre Greek Salad... let's call it what it is) with chicken breast. The salad was a little too heavy on the lettuce and light on everything else including the dressing. I think I counted two cherry tomatoes and three olives for the entire dish. The chicken breast was clearly boiled in masses and then seared for grill marks when it was ordered... the evidence of this was that the breast meat was extremely dry and "powdery" as if it had been overcooked one too many times. For some reason, they brought me a side of BBQ sauce with the salad, so I gave it a taste test with my fork. They serve a whisky BBQ sauce there and I discovered that whisky BBQ sauce (or at least the one they serve) triggers a gag reflex in me (and I'm an avid BBQ'er with two grills and a smoker at home). My friend ordered a power breakfast and his grilled chicken breast was missing the grill marks on it. Much to his surprise, they brought him a side of BBQ sauce as well!!

                    45 minutes later with no water refills and a missing appetizer that they "forgot to place", we walked out and picked up a pretzel at Wetzel's Pretzel's and tried to drown out the aftertaste of the whisky BBQ sauce away before dinner rolled around. So sad because I had such high hopes for this place as a new addition to the Glendale restaurant scene for me and my friends. There were many people in there who seemed to enjoy the food, so I may be alone in my experience and assessment. I may give it another try some time in the future, and I'll make sure to tell them to hold the BBQ sauce:)

                    1. Actually, there is another word to describe Granville: Wretched.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: oldusedcop

                        Glad to know it's not just us. On the basis of last month's Westways rave, we ventured over to the Americana. Not quite miserable, but still a lame experience.

                        Okay (certainly not great) food arriving at different times with incompetent service. The waiter blamed the screwups on our "customizing" our orders - the chef doesn't like to modify a selection. Um, this isn't Providence we're talking about.... Even the drinks took 20 minutes to find its way to us after we first ordered.

                        On the food side: the lobster bisque was very good, the burger not bad (not up to The Ramp, let alone The York or even the Astro in Silverlake). Not helped by the huge bun. In echoing another poster's similar complaint about Granville: Since when did food establishments think that people want to taste bread rather than the meat.

                        We're not rushing back.

                        1. re: Briggs

                          It sounds like the new Americana at Brand branch (their second) is not exactly a raging hit -- I haven't read a single positive review from any source on it.

                          Their burger IS tasty -- but there's that weird mayo they use, which makes the entire burger (you got it) ongepotchket. I just never seem to walk away happy, and if they would stop trying to carve a name for themselves with creative twists on good food, they'd be a whole lot better -- except for the abysmal service I'm reading about. Burbank is better, but the service is still marginal.