Fine dining with a few kinks

As a typical restaurant-going consumer who enjoys seeing entrepreneurs succeed, I sometimes want to take new restaurant owners aside and make some suggestions.

Often, they simply don't prioritize correctly. Yes, quality of food is important. But so are an appealing logo and a real sign out front. Deals and incentives to attract customers are a definite plus. But more important is to create an environment that is welcoming and special in some way. While OverTime Bar & Grill does serve a few outstanding dishes, this new restaurant falls prey to some of these problems and more.

Problem No. 1: The chef needs the service to match his or her talents. On our first visit, I took a party of eight. We were one of only three occupied tables that evening, so you would think we'd get exceptional service. We did not. The drinks took forever to come. No bread was offered. And there was a small mistake with our hefty bill that took a shameful amount of time and convincing to have rectified.

But the food was quite delicious and close to fine-dining quality. The chicken lettuce wraps ($11) are to die for. Copious amounts of cubed chicken, combined with black mushrooms, green onions, corn and celery, come with lettuce cups and two great dipping sauces — peanut and sesame-ginger. The Argentina-style steak ($15) also stood out. The grilled flat-iron steak melts in your mouth, especially with the accompanying excellent chimichurri (herb-garlic-vinegar) sauce and avocado mashed potatoes.

My daughter gobbled up her roasted wild mushroom ravioli ($15). And the Ropa Vieja sandwich, which is a Cuban-style shredded beef braised in a tangy tomato sauce with onions and bell peppers ($11), created quite a stir at the table. Finally, the cappuccino and the coconut flan, with its cheesecake-like richness, were both memorable.

Problem No. 2: There isn't one plant, not one decorative divider, no mood lighting, nothing to create a comforting ambience in this cavernous space measuring maybe 70 by 70 feet. The restaurant used to house a dance club, as evidenced by the wooden dance floor and racks of professional lighting. Why not section that off? And while you're at it, separate the bar from the dining area. As it is it's like eating in an auditorium.

Problem No. 3: The Happy Hour bargains got me to come in, but something's making me not come back. Every Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., the big TVs are ablaze with various sports, and the bar offers $3 well drinks and $1.50 beers. On Wednesdays, the entire bar appetizer menu is half off. These are some amazing bargains. Granted, the drinks are similar to ones you'd get sitting at a slot machine in Vegas and the domestic draft beer comes in small plastic cups, but they're cold and tasty. You can get full-size imported beers and wine as well as some good-looking specialty drinks that fit the sports bar theme, such as the Endzone Margarita and Overtime Punch.

The appetizers are fresher than usual and generously portioned but taste bland. We tried the spicy chicken quesadilla ($6.25), thick with jack cheese and Anaheim chiles, the cheeseburger sliders ($9), with tasty beef patties but too-large buns, and the chicken empanadas ($7.50), deep-fried to a crispy brown and served with a very mild tomatillo sauce.

The Happy Hour attracts mostly men, presumably co-workers, and the vibe is, I would say, cautiously comfortable. You feel like you have every right to be there but, due to the rectangular setup of the bar and the surrounding open space, you somehow feel like you should talk in low tones to your neighbor.

And the bartender doesn't go out of his way to make you feel at home. Cheers, this is not.

So while in general the food at OverTime Bar & Grill is good, the relatively high prices warrant a nicer atmosphere and stellar service. Therefore, I don't think I would go back for dinner. But when the World Cup airs again, I have a feeling this would be a great spot to grab a drink, chow down on some lettuce wraps and watch the game on their multiple wide-screen TVs.

Lisa Dupuy has been writing articles on travel, food and entertainment for 25 years. She can be reached at



What: OverTime Bar & Grill

Where: 933 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

When: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Appetizers and bar food $5 to $12; soups and salads $5 to $13; burgers and sandwiches $8 to $13; pizzas and pastas $9 to $16; meats and seafood $12 to $21

Contact: (818) 247-6256

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