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Thursday, May 5, 2011

La Grande Orange Café - Pretty, Good, so. . . Pretty Good?

Sunny Weather Greetings, Snackers!

So The Food Bitch, quite upon a whim, wandered into La Grande Orange Café last weekend for a late lunch.  I say "wandered" because, well, to be perfectly honest:  Screw You, you stupid not-even-as-cool-as-a-bike-cop (and that's really pathetic) City of Pasadena bicycle-meter-man.  Why are you harassing those nice valet guys?  What is your problem?  Who hurt you?!?  Is the City of Pasadena paying on a commission only basis now?  WTF?  

Allow me to explain.  We pull up to the valet literally seconds after scoring a reservation on OpenTable.  There do not appear to be any open spaces, so we pull ahead about 15 feet to the red zone, whereupon we were immediately approached from behind by the aforementioned meter-man.  On his goofy bike.  And he got really, really close to the car and began waving us forward - he would not let us wait even a second for the valet space to be cleared so we could back up into it.  So after pulling into an underground garage, taking a ticket, finding another valet guy down there who immediately knew that we had been sent down there by The Man, walking a quarter-block back up to the restaurant entrance, getting a valet ticket from the outside guy, etc., etc., we were officially late for our last minute reservation.  So thanks, bike dude.  You're a hero.  And apparently you do this to the valet guys and the customers of La Grande Orange Café all the time.  But that's okay. . . we got your badge number.  Just sayin'.  

Fortunately, it was mid-afternoon so they were able to give us their "best table, " which turned out to be on the patio.  Just another beautiful day in LA. . . under the FEMA-tarp blue retractable awning. . . but that's ok, that's ok, I can look past that.  The patio was otherwise covered and surrounded by beautiful trees, brushy vegetation, and affluent middle-aged ladies lunching.  A Spanish blue-green wood burning fireplace stands at one end of the patio just to the left of the door to the bar that's attached to the restaurant.  A peek in through the hanging plant adorned doorway revealed lovely, sparkly chandeliers.  A bit like standing in Stratford Upon Avon and peering through the door into Paris.  And speaking of which, La Grande had French jazz piped throughout, even in the large, pink, gray marble-sinked ladies room that had a distinct boudoir feel.

All of this is just to say that their Euro-vibe was coming through loud and clear (and in French!). . . until you got to the menu because what the hell I didn't see one bit of French cuisine on the whole thing.  Which, I might add, was comprised of at least 40% beverages and wine list.  Here's the menu - I was baffled and had to take a picture.  Tuna burger?  Taco platters?  Juevos Rancheros?  Edna's Dixie Chicken?  WTF? What country am I in?


But ok.  So it's between the Tuna Burger and the Ribeye Tacos for me.  Server (who was nice, but very slow) recommended the tacos so off I went.   And I have to say, they were fantastic.  Perfectly seasoned, tender beef served with these adorable homemade corn tortillas.

 H went with the "New Style" Sashimi, which as far as I could tell was just some thinly sliced raw fish on a plate that another server (again, nice, but almost methodically slow) drowned in ponzu sauce table side.  (Fancy!)  He also had a tuna avocado tower thing that looked very nice, but I swear I detected a hint of Maggie Sauce, so that turned me off to it pretty quickly.  Stop putting that crap in stuff, people!

The Food Bitch washed down lunch with La Grande's homemade white sangria which they described as "ridiculous."  Ok, settle down everybody.  "Ridiculous" is a pretty big word.  It was good, but then again, it's really hard to screw up sangria, so unless you've mixed in unicorn tears or teddy bear blood or magic fairy dust, please refrain from over doing it with the self-appointed laudatory adjectives.  And yes, I'm a little cranky at this point because YES, I would have ordered a second one of these "ridiculous" white sangrias, but I wasn't offered one by my server who was just. . . soooo. . . sloooooow. . .bangs head on table. . .

I do regret not ordering the dessert he offered us, however.  It was a homemade olive oil cake that was lightly toasted and topped with a berry compote, so essentially a poundcake made with olive oil instead of butter.  Does anyone have a recipe for this?  If so, please pass it along!  It sounded great, but alas I was too full of ribeye tacos at that point to even nibble.

Last item of Food Bitch business.  I want to go back to the patio environment for a second.  I just have to say to La Grande:  If you tell someone you're giving them your BEST TABLE, the banquet on which that customer is sitting should absolutely NOT look like this, EVER!  Yuck!  Seriously get those things laundered - they were absolutely filthy.

In summation, this place was good, not great.  Photo worthy, as you can see, and with tasty-ish food, but I've had better many, many times.  Add that to the lethargic service, the mixed-message menu, the dirty seats, and the bike-cop valet hassle -  I'd have to say I really doubt I'll be returning any time soon.

Happy Snacking,

La Food Bitch   

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