Watch as a proto-chain grows into manhood (womanhood?) in the heart of Westwood.
Funny. When I first came to Los Angeles, I was fresh out of Grad School. I still had my “College” mindset. And being on the lookout as I was for good cheap eats, Westwood, parked up against the campus of UCLA seemed a perfect place to go.
Man, I don’t know what the hell happened to Westwood.
It’s technically a College Town…I guess. I mean, there’s a University there. I see folks wearing stuff that says UCLA milling about doing stuff, but…so much of the Cheap/Affordable Student places seem to have been moved away, perhaps across Wilshire (I really don’t know where).
So what’s taken it’s place? A lot of really nice, really high end stuff. Some places that sit on the border of fine and mid level dining. Some places that cross over the border.
They’re all great places to go. If you’re student you’d think about brining a date here…
…then you’d think about eat .99 Ramen every other day, because that’s all you could afford afterward.
Napa Valley Grille is nice…real nice. It’s a chain, in that there’s a whole ‘nother location, way the heck out at the Mall of America in Minnesota. (Somehow I doubt you’ll be driving to scope out the other location in case you can’t get a table here.)
So what? We call that a proto-chain? A chain in the making? A chain to be?
But you walk in and you really can’t complain. It’s got a lovely candle light glow to the place. (And not a candle to be seen). It’s got a romantic air to it as well. You want to bring a date here, meet her for the first time, have dinner and talk.
But Napa Valley Grille, like all good proto National chains has a little something for everybody. You can saunter up to the bar, and catch a little bit of the game waiting for your date to arrive. You can meet friends from work at some of the unreserved tables near the bar, and talk over the day’s business, or whatever.
I’m going to…pretend that Napa Valley Grille isn’t offering a “Preferred Guest Program”, the surest sign of their National Ambitions, and pretend that it’s still the small, straight ahead one shot restaurant that it is…right now, here in Westwood. It’s a good place. They know how to treat you right, and serve up a good meal. I just hope they recognize what a good thing they have now, because I have the feeling when they’re in every Mall in America, as Food Costs squeeze then, as they learn to refine (in this case, dumb down) their menu for the coming fiscal quarter, it won’t be as good.
You know, a good thing.
It’s not a chalkboard, but it’s the next best thing.
I had the Lamb Ragu, which was a nice, nice little dish. Little lamb, some red wine, San Marzano tomatoes, some red chili flake (which was the selling point for me), and some parmesan. But it was a difficult choice, because there was a lot of other things I wanted to have. I likey the idea of Sweet Corn Agnolotti. I would have looked at the Pan Seared Duck Breast, which in the hands of a good chef is always a tasty, delicious bit of bird. The Natural Grilled Pork Chop will always call to me. And anything called Beer Braised Short Rib will get my attention.
Coupled with a good wine, and a nice dessert, in this case the Butterscotch Bread Pudding, it’s a really nice meal. Bordering on the miraculous and wonderful. A zero regret meal.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing really to caution you about. It’s gets typically busy on the Weekends, particularly after work closes. Nothing surprising.
PARKING: Ideal enough. Napa Valley Grille sits at the corner of a massive Office Building with its own Parking. You go up a level, even on a Friday Night, and you’re basically parking right above the Restaurant. It’s not that expensive either, but make sure you validate.
Napa Valley Grille
1100 Glendon Ave., Ste 100
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Telephone: (310) 824-3322
Monday-Saturday: 11 am – 10 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 8 pm