Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Restaurant Review: Square One, Hollywood

I'd only been to Square One once, a looong time ago when they had first opened. I remembered having the Tuna Sandwich and, although it was a bit hard to handle, it was delicious. So, when J and I wanted to go out for brunch a few weeks ago, we decided to pay the place another visit.

We arrived at around 11:30 AM, and waited in line for about 15 minutes. My tummy was rumbling and I was anxious to take a peek at the menu. Square One's menu is exactly what I look for in a brunch place- creative dishes using familiar ingredients, like baked egg dishes (familiar) paired with short ribs and caramelized onions (creative!). Since it was close to lunchtime (and I had fond memories of my previous sandwich experience) I decided to order the Veggie Club (a veggie sandwich with avocado, tomato, red onion, sprout mix, radish and frisee on five grain bread with cheddar, mustard and aioli). J wanted breakfast and got the housemade granola with soy milk, plus the fruit bowl of the day. We sipped on our coffees and waited.

Fresh bowl o fruit!

I already started getting rubbed the wrong way a bit due to the large number of flies inside the restaurant. Since patrons kept coming in and out of the restaurant and often times not closing the door all the way, it couldn't be helped, but I felt like I was sitting outside. We kept shooing them away even though our food had yet to arrive. When it did, the Fly Problem got even worse.

Non-crunchy granola

Speaking of the food- J's fruit bowl was a beautiful mound of fresh, seasonal fruit- nectarines, plums, grapes, and white peaches. It's so nice to get a fruit bowl that reflects what's good NOW- not just random fruit. It's rare to find such an abundantly fresh and well thought-out fruit bowl. His granola, however, lacked any sort of crunch and had the soggy texture of mush the minute his soy milk hit it. It tasted alright, but it was more like cold oatmeal, not granola. I wonder if they made the granola soft in order to balance out the crunch that did come in the form of about 50 marcona almonds- not kidding. These expensive, skinned almonds were overly abundant, so J picked about half of them out and took them home. I mean, we all like marconas but to avoid eating a 2000 calorie breakfast, he just couldn't consume all of those nuts! My sandwich looked nice, but the minute I saw it I pretty much knew it was non functional. What do I mean? Well, I have a pet peeve, and it's when a sandwich or burger is built in a way that you KNOW it will fall all over you the minute you take a bite. If I wanted to eat a pile of vegetables and a couple of slices of bread, I would order a salad and a side of toast! Same with burgers (not Side One's, which I haven't tried- just in general). If I wanted to WEAR a couple of beef patties, mustard, pickles and onions I would make a friggin shirt out of a Whopper (tm) and slip it over my head. Sorry to be so adamant, but I firmly believe that a sandwich should FUNCTION as a sandwich. If you take one bite and all of the ingredients come sliding out the back, it isn't working. And that's what I was desperately trying to avoid as I tried to squeeze the emorous pile of veggies stacked on bread into my mouth. I wasn't successful and ended up with half of it on my plate.

Too big, even for my big mouth!

Sometimes you can have too much good stuff....

Using one hand to constantly swat flies away and the other trying to keep my sandwich together didn't make for a great dining experience. Although I do admire the way the owners put the menu together with fresh, seasonal ingredients, I think I need a little break before trying Square One again. And please- here's a public plea to all sandwich makers out there- PLEASE make a sandwich that functions. To me, it's as important as how it tastes.

P.S.- a crunchy granola might be nice too!

Square One Dining
Address: 4854 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Phone: (323) 661-1109


Chubbypanda said...

Good gravy! That thing is a veggie Dagwood. The last time I tried to eat a sandwich like that, I ended up showering the table with avocado.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed a fly invasion this summer at lots of indoor/outdoor restaurants.

Bummer about the mushy granola, but that fruit looks amazing. I have no idea how you're supposed to eat that sandwich. I usually get the pecan pancakes.

Square One isn't in Silverlake though. That's pretty much smack in the middle of Hollywood.


Tokyoastrogirl said...

Anonymous: Yeah- isn't it great when a fruit bowl is more than melon and cantaloupe?? I'll definitely give Square One another try but might wait til the weather cools off so the fly problem won't be as bad. And yes..my bad on the location!

themirthmobile said...

i've had the same problem with their smoked salmon sandwich: it ends up all over the place b/c of slippery jelly, etc. however, their breakfast sandwich is really good and i don't recall structure problems with that one. also, their coffee cake is delish and i usually don't care for sweets like that. once i saw the rapper Common eating breakfast there alone. i think he had the oatmeal.

it sounds like you really wanted to like this place but it didn't quite live up its potential. i kinda feel the same way, yet i keep going back. i suppose that says something.

susan said...

i had omelet at square one and it was awesome. the chorizo one. the restaurant is actually in little armenia or east hollywood, right next to the scientology center, and very close to los feliz

Anonymous said...

I love Square One and drive from SANTA MONICA to eat there--the only problem I seem to have with the place is deciding what to have, because it's all so insanely good. Next time try the Benedict (the potato cake is to die for and the house-cured salmon--oh my!) or the club (the Neuske bacon is ridiculously good). I would also say that the service is uniformly friendly, helpful and genuine--which is a HUGE selling point!