Dining Review: A Favorite Place for lunch in Glendale

Favorite Place restaurant is a kind of wonderful enigma. Is it an elegant tea room or is it a quaint lunch place? Is it a spot for finger food or hearty sandwiches? The answer is, it is both. Plus, it is completely unique.

Favorite Place, nestled among little storefronts down a side street off Brand Boulevard in downtown Glendale, has been a not-so-secret secret to customers for years. Signs in the window boast multiple Best of Glendale awards, mainly for Most Romantic Restaurant. It is romantic in the way that flowers are romantic, but I wouldn't come here to play footsie with my sweetheart. Teacups, bows and flower petals are the decor items of choice, making it a charming haven for groups of women, a gentile spot for a business lunch, or a special destination for a couple's afternoon rendezvous.

Recently the restaurant changed ownership; but regulars, fear not. The atmosphere and refined flavors are the same, just polished up a bit. The service is gracious, though a tad slow. For instance, every time I wanted a hot tea refill, I had to flag down the waiter. It was a little surprising that instead of a teapot being brought to the table, my cup would disappear for a minute and come back full. Still, it was delicious house tea. My husband had numerous refills of Favorite Place's famous rosewater lemonade. They now serve a "secret" blackberry lemonade too.

We started with salads. The house salad looked simple enough with its field greens, chopped tomatoes and toasted sesame seed. But once I took that first bite I was smitten and couldn't stop eating until the last bit of sesame dressing was mopped up with the accompanying French bread. My lunch mate really enjoyed his "My Favorite Salad" ($15), a healthy blend of steamed beets, greens, apples, dried cranberries, almonds and feta with a pomegranate dressing.

I ordered the friendship luncheon ($28), which comes with the above-mentioned salad, tea and dessert. With all the flowery plates and botanical prints around, we fully expected postage-stamp-sized squares of white bread with cucumbers or tuna inside. Instead a three-tiered, internationally inspired creation arrived with five thick sandwiches, each more delicious and unique than the last.

In a nod to the Mediterranean culinary roots of the owners, instead of white bread they use lavash on a couple of sandwiches. The turkey roll features homemade cranberry sauce and sweet apple rolled up in the flat bread and cut decoratively. The tuna on the tuna sandwich is not mushy with mayonnaise but rolled in lavash with sesame seeds and white beans, then cut like a sushi roll, adding a texture and flavor reminiscent of Japan. "From Russia with Love" features fragrant ham on French bread with a pesto-smeared slice of cucumber held on with a flower-petal-and-toothpick flag.

Our two favorite sandwiches were still to come. The "Summer Delight" features grilled eggplant and zucchini, roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato cream cheese on rustic olive bread. Even better than it sounds. We fought over the last bite of spicy Mediterranean egg salad, a gutsy, chunky mix charged with aleppo pepper, cilantro and dill on soft wheat bread.

Dessert was a lovely plate of cakes surrounded by edible flower petals. Lighter than air, they were a perfect ending to the meal. All in all, the atmosphere and food presentation is whimsical, charming and not too precious. The owners may want to reconsider their front entrance, though — the dying plant is a bit of a turn-off. Once inside, however, Favorite Place is perfect for a bridal shower or office lunch (a party of 40 could have the place to themselves). The owners have expanded their catering menu, too, and based on their skill with flavor combinations and seasonings, I would certainly consider patronizing my Favorite Place.

What: Favorite Place Restaurant

Where: 115 W. Wilson Ave., Glendale

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Prices: Soups, salads and sandwiches $8 to $15

Contact: (818) 507-7409; www.favoriteplacerestaurant.com

--LISA DUPUY has reviewed area restaurants since 2008. She can be reached at ldupuy@aol.com.

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