In the realm of places in North Hollywood that are in walking distance, there is one place I have avoided for a while. It’s called Eclectic Cafe and the reason is not because I’ve heard bad things, but I’ve heard expensive things and “expensive lunch” is not often a term that finds itself in my vocabulary. Nonetheless, I recently had reason to eat lunch there and was curious what I would find.
Looking over the items on the menu, I realized that the prices were definitely in the realm of special occasion lunch. Their Gourmet Burger was really the only food that was reasonable. Coming in at 11 bucks, it came with lettuce, tomato and basil mayonnaise on seven-grain bun. See cheese in there? No, you don’t because cheese costs an extra buck. I added cheddar, then realized it would cost me an extra two bucks to upgrade the baby greens salad to sweet potato fries. After the nickel and diming, my burger and fries ran me up 14 bucks, but I ordered it cooked medium and without the lettuce and tomato, then prepared to eat.
While waiting, we were served some focaccia, which was pretty amazing. Covered in delicious morsels of chunky garlic, I had no plans of getting any kisses for the next 24 hours. After tackling a couple pieces of this, I was ready for my burger.
Once I saw it, I was immediately upset. Deep within the burger, my meal had been infiltrated by none other than the lettuce and tomato I had requested not to be on my burger. Not only that, this wasn’t some simple leaf of lettuce and slice of tomato. No, it seemed that they had taken that baby greens salad and deposited it in my burger. It was not pretty, but after meticulous picking I finally made myself a real burger.
When I dug into it, I was a bit disappointed. I had put a lot of work into this burger, and although the result wasn’t a bad burger, it also wasn’t anything to write home about. The beef itself had been cooked to the appropriate medium, but the meat didn’t have too much flavor to it and most of the basil mayonnaise had come off when I was removing the unwanted veggies. I added some ketchup to the burger to add some flavor and moisture, but in general the burger just kind of disappointed. It also didn’t sit too well and kept me from eating dinner until late into the night.
As for the sweet potato fries, even they could not escape the wrath of Eclectic Cafe’s veggies. Sitting atop a mound of these fries were two miniature pickles. It was a disturbing site that tainted something that could have been good. And in fact the sweet potato fries were pretty good. They looked to have been cooked tempura style, but I think they just somehow ended up with some crispy whiteness on them. No idea how.
So my lunch at Eclectic Cafe was somewhat of a bust. The price was what had prohibited me from coming in the first place, but now the actual value of the meal is what will keep me from coming back. Spending money on good food is fine, but spending money on a meal that makes you unhappy is no way to eat at all.