Is It Any Good?

A very good looking, yet somewhat…ordinary…restaurant in Glendale, right across from the Americana.

Brand 158 on Urbanspoon
Brand 158 on Foodio54

I’d been eyeing the space across the street from Frida’s for a while. It was going to be something, I just couldn’t figure out what it was.

Then…finally…it opened, and…well…I still couldn’t figure out what it was. Name was just a little hard to figure out. I almost thought it was called L.A. Banquets after the much larger, more prominent sign overhead.

But nope, it was a place called Brand 158.  Okay.  Let’s check it out…click on ye olde menu link, and…

What? Is this a broken record here?

Okay, so the place is called Brand 158, as inoffensive a name as you can think of. But what does it tell you about the place? Absolutely nothing.

Okay, so…what? Ummm…I guess the only thing to do is walk in here, and check it out for myself. From what I can tell it’s…well…damn good looking. I mean for reals, it’s a hell of a nice space. Lots of windows, lots of light. A nice comfortable spot that makes you want to hang out in it. TV’s…okay. Good. Why they’re all showing CNBC is a mystery to me, but to each his own.

Brand 158 is a rarity for a restaurant. A place that someone obvious put a lot of thought into, spent a good chunk of money on, but…for some reason, cannot tell me why it’s there?

Yeah, to make money. Fine. Got it. But I’m talking more about inspiration than I am about moolah. I’m talking about a creative burst, also known as the thing that’ll make people crawl over hot coals to come to your restaurant. At it’s most basic, core, primal a part of itself, a restaurant is saying: Here try THIS! Sooo…what do I want to try here?

Look across the street, at the third Din Tai Fung in the area. I waited for two freakin’ hours to get served there, because I wanted their Xiaolongbao that damn badly. Now, that I’ve had them, I’ll be going to the relatively saner Arcadia location, but you get my meaning. As a restaurant, part of your mission is getting me to say “I gotta have that. No matter what I gotta do, how far I gotta drive, how long I gotta wait, I gotta have that.”

And as nice as Brand 158 is, you’re not going to say that. Look, it basically sells Pizzas, Burgers and Salads. Yippee-kay-yay. Granville does the same thing (with more pizzazz) and I don’t have to cross the street.

Now, it’s relatively early in it’s operation, and things could change. But I will tell you one thing that Brand 158 is doing that is extraordinary. Something that I hope more and more restaurants try to replicate in the future.

They don’t take cash.

They don’t accept tips.

Now this is damn interesting, because I’ve read a couple of pieces out there the in foodie world that suggest, with some evidence that service actually improves when a restaurant doesn’t allow for tipping. Waitstaff aren’t sucking up to the Big Whale Tippers and ignoring you. Everyone gets good even attention.

So if for no other reason, I hope the Brand 158 experiment works…at least for a little while, or at least finds time to distinguish it from Project P.I.E…because between it and Granville, the competition is only going to get tougher.

 

WHAT SHOULD I GET?: You know how I usually wade in carefully to places I’m unfamiliar with, and maybe order something not that amazing?

Yeah, didn’t do that this time.

I went with the Tequila Chicken Fettucini, and it wasn’t bad. Nice cream sauce. Didn’t taste a lot of spice…or Tequila for that matter, but I actually wound up enjoying it.

The only other thing I would have been tempted by was the Aged Angus Beef Tenderloin, but that doesn’t strike me as a lunch portion, if you know what I mean.

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Very important. Bear in mind they do not take cash and they don’t accept tips.

Yes, you will find yourself reflexively attempting to leave a tip, only to find no space to do so on the bill. Worry not, the cost of the tip is added to your meal.

If you only have cash, there is a way around it. They do sell Gift Cards for cash, so you can purchase one with your folding money, and turn it around that same day.

 

PARKING: Interesting. Because technically the closest place is the Americana Center Parking Structure which is literally, directly across from Brand 158. Problem is Brand 158 isn’t a part of the Americana. You can try the Glendale Marketplace which is on the same block as Brand 158. My Bartender did ask if I need validation, so maybe, just maybe they’ve got that covered.

 

MAP DIRECTIONS:
Brand 158
158 S. Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91204

Tel: (818) 305-2861

Hours:
Sunday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 10:30 pm