Clang, clang, clang went the trolley! Granville Café Mac and Cheese. Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

By Hilary Havarti

When it comes to shopping, I avoid malls like the H1N1 virus. But every now and again, I have no choice but to join the teeming masses of humanity in search of an item only available at the mall e.g., a bra or maybe some See's candy (or if I'm feeling a little nutty, a bra AND See's candy). Happy New Year, Cheese Lovers!

One of these blue moon occasions surfaced on New Year's Day. With a friend in town from New York wanting to do a little shopping, I figured the only place cruel enough to force employees to work on a day most everyone else is sacked out on a couch nursing a hangover is: the mall. So off to the Americana Mall in Glendale we did go and let me tell ya, it was really something.

The Americana Mall, conceived and designed by the same shopping center "impresario" responsible for The Grove, has an unwarranted superiority complex. My old man affectionately referred to it as, "The Grove with uglier people." Here's a little snippet from the official website: "Experience the ultimate in shopping, dining, entertainment and luxury living at The Americana at Brand in Glendale, CA. From the carefully chosen boutiques to the beautiful ambiance, every care has been taken to surround you with luxury." To this I say, "HA." Sure, there are expensive shops but there's also a trolley carting lazy ass shoppers about 20 feet forward and back depending on how many Wetzel's Pretzels they've stuffed in their gaping luxury awestruck maws. And riddle me this, dear readers: What person in their right mind would want to live at a shopping mall? I'd rather commit hara-kiri on the trolley. Oh, but I digress. I'm here to review mac and cheese and believe it or not, I was able to locate a tasty specimen even in the midst of all the "elegance." It was like a New Year's Day miracle.

Granville Café

Most of the food options on the directory were immediately kiboshed. Nobody wanted pricey sushi from Katsuya or diner food from "The Diner," so I made the executive decision to check out Granville Café. I'd never heard of it but any place with word "café" tacked on the end usually means there's something for everyone. And sure enough, that was the case at Granville. I was pleasantly surprised to learn they use organic locally sourced ingredients and everything is made fresh to order plus there were TWO mac and cheese options on the menu.

Uptown Mac and Cheese ($12.95) is a main course made with peas, asparagus and chicken and Classic Mac and Cheese is a side dish ($5.95) prepared in the traditional sense sans add-ins. I opted for the latter as I don't like foreign ingredients dumped in my mac.

In spite of my cynicism, the mac at Granville was top notch. Made with Gruyere and sharp Cheddar, it was creamy and had a nice crunch on top, though I would have preferred a blanket of crumbs over the chosen dusting. The elbow macaroni noodles were prepared perfectly, slightly al dente. If I must nitpick, I'd suggest throwing in more sharp Cheddar for tang but overall, it was a very satisfying dish. I also ordered the Thai Ginger Salad ($9.95) with fresh organic spring greens, Asian slaw, soft Soba noodles, avocado, mango, carrots, green onions, grape tomatoes and roasted peanuts with Granville?s Thai Sesame Dressing. Delish!

I must say, it sure beat the heck out of a typical mall food court but I doubt I'll be racing back for a repeat performance. I'm just uncomfortable surrounded by all that luxury.

The Americana at Brand
807 Americana Way
(on Brand between Broadway & Colorado)
Glendale, California 91210
(818) 550-0472

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