We’re eating away from home a lot less these days, and not just because of the economy. I mostly cook at home, mostly shop at Farmer’s Markets, and have successfully convinced Frank to source better food from Nemco, his food distribution business. I prefer buying organic, grass fed, wild caught, local and sustainably grown food for many reasons. I love serving delicious food and I appreciate that the benefits range far beyond nutrition. Supporting a healthier ecosystem ranks right up there with taste. To be honest, the restaurant industry is lagging.
It’s not that I can’t find “farm to table” restaurants in Los Angeles. If I want to eat the same quality of food I serve at home, I can easily spend more money on one meal than a single person may spend on groceries for the week. I can also belly up at fast casual restaurants including Chipotle Mexican Grill and Freebird’s World Burrito, but there are limited choices in between. This weekend I stepped into the newest Granville Cafe, a casual, yet strikingly stylish restaurant serving delicious and responsibly sourced food that I would serve at home, at a price that most of us won’t balk at paying.
READY TO EAT CLEAN FOOD
On the bustling corner of Ventura and Laurelgrove — already studded with its fair share of eateries along the boulevard– Granville Cafe’s debut hits a high note. Granville Cafe opened their Studio City location this summer to a packed house, even without advertising. I hear this inside information from a trusted source, the general manager who also happens to be my nephew.
Both Frank and I celebrate the opening of Granville’s Studio City location with a little extra zeal. We invested in the project, mostly because we believe in the concept and sense the public is ready to appreciate Granville’s efforts.
What I get is that Angelenos like to eat out, but many of us are looking for opportunities to eat cleaner food. We want more organic produce, more grass fed butter and dairy, more sustainably grown and harvested meats, chicken, and fish and eggs. But we don’t want to blow the budget. Diners are looking for whole food, prepared and sourced with care, but something more than fast casual and something less than fine dining. Granville delivers.
ENJOY ENOUGH, AND NOT TOO MUCH
I split a delicious beet salad with my husband and then closed my eyes when I tasted the first bite of rainbow trout pan seared in a lemon butter sauce and sprinkled with crushed pepitas. Delicious. I savored every bite of grilled summer squash, every bit as fresh and flavorful as what I buy from my farmer’s market. My husband smacked his lips at a succulent pork chop topped with a cranberry-mango compote. Refreshingly, simply sauteed spinach and mashed Yukon potatoes balanced the plate. Later, Frank sprang for dessert while I opted for a satisfying decaf latte, packing away half of my trout for a tasty lunch on Sunday.
Interestingly the menu politely requests patrons to minimize substitutions, asking us to enjoy the food as it is served. Initially I was surprised at this posture as I often encourage clients to make desired special requests at restaurants. But after thinking about it, I appreciate the message. When we are served clean food that is well prepared, the point is to order what we want and enjoy it. Once food is served, the only task that remains is to be mindful to enjoy enough but not too much. If a portion is more than you desire, you can share it with a dinner partner or take the rest home and enjoy it at another meal. The menu also thoughtfully marks vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options.
CELEBRATING A SCRATCH KITCHEN
From sharable appetizers to pizzas to salads, burgers, and large plates, Granville Cafe’s menu offers a full range of choices. Granville Cafe justifiably boasts of their “scratch kitchen”–meaning that many menu items are made from scratch, especially salad dressings, sauces, and other condiments. They pointedly avoid using commercial ingredients that commonly include high fructose corn syrup and other questionable ingredients. With both of us in the business of food and eating, Frank and I can’t help but note the well balanced but moderate number of choices in each category. We appreciate how the number of menu items also contributes to more modest pricing.
Overall, dining at Granville Cafe offers really good food of exceptional quality at a great value. The Studio City location is welcoming and open, with both outdoor and indoor seating that allows for easy movement and comfortable conversation. The service was spot on–comfortable, present, but almost imperceptible. I can’t wait to return, but I don’t hesitate to tell the GM that I look forward to a Granville location on this side of the hill. What about you?