Who would open a restaurant on Seward St. near recording and post-production studios, vacant lots, and a performing arts magnet school? The Grub gals, Betty Fraser and Denise De Carlo did over ten years ago.
The gals happily ran a successful catering business and were looking for a space to store all of their supplies and a full kitchen to prepare their unique fare for studio parties, weddings and special events. One day they stumbled upon a 1920s cottage on Seward Street that used to be a Jamaican restaurant. It was an ideal spot to set up their catering headquarters. At the time, they never had an inkling of turning the cottage into a restaurant.
Every day a nearby resident or worker in the area would peek in while the girls were whipping up creamy soups, colorful salads and fancy dishes for an upcoming event. People would say, “Hey, when are you going to open your restaurant?” The gals shrugged their shoulders and sweetly hollered back “Oh, maybe in about six months.” This thrilled the neighbors, because of their limited dining options. Fraser and De Carlo realized there was a big need for a restaurant with their type of California comfort food, so they decided to open Grub for breakfast and lunch.
Walking inside the cozy cottage, one feels as if they are in someone’s home. Strings of white lights add to a festive mood along the front garden patio and inside.
The general manger, Libby skipped over to our table and greeted us with a huge smile and enthusiastic twinkle in her eyes. This gal has a sunshine personality with a hearty laugh. She greets every guest as if they are dear friends that she invited over for a home cooked meal.
We sat at a corner table and drank a glass of sangria and lemon basil champagne cocktail while Libby shared with us her favorite items on the playful menu. “You have to try the ‘crack’ bacon quesadilla, because it’s really good,” boasted Libby. “The bacon is made with a blend of spices and individually hand rubbed and coated before cooked. It’s called ‘crack’ because the bacon is so yummy that people come back again and again for their fix,” she said and then gave us another exuberant laugh.
This spinach tortilla quesadilla with melted cheddar cheese, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, caramelized onions and drizzled with a pear and apple butter was served warm with sour cream and Granny Smith apple slices. It was one of the high points of our meal.
Next we ordered the Beet’s the Alternative salad. It’s similar to a beet salad that other restaurants serve with a bed of greens, spiced pecans and crumbled gorgonzola cheese, however the Grub beet salad is filled with lot’s of house roasted beets. They are not stingy with the deep red colored beets. It’s adorned with a slightly sweet molasses and balsamic vinaigrette.
Libby brought out one of their biggest sellers for us to try, the After School Special. It’s on grilled sourdough with Swiss and cheddar cheese and dill butter. Resting next to the sandwich is a cup of their unabashedly creamy and thick tomato soup with large chunks of tomato, fresh tarragon and cream. The best way to eat this dish is to dunk the grilled cheese into the soup and take a bite. Ahhh, comfort food at its best.
Two years ago the Grub gals decided to stay open for dinner. People going to Comedy Sportz up the street wanted to stop in for a bite before the show. Recording artists needed to refuel with Grub food before another long evening of work. The gals added some new items on the menu for dinner after 5 p.m.
We tried the Hunka Hunka Burning Loaf with it’s 12 oz. ground beef mixed with chopped Grub bacon, fresh basil, cheddar and Parmesan cheese and topped with a fire roasted red pepper ketchup. With the basil, cheese and homemade ketchup, it tasted like an Italian meatloaf. It’s served with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach leaves.
Another dish we tried was the potato chip chicken. The boneless chicken breast is marinated in buttermilk and coated with crispy potato chips before its baked and sliced onto mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. Almost every table had a guest enjoying this unique chicken dinner.
We finished our meal with one of Libby’s famous Fosse cookies. Imagine a chocolate chip cookie rolled in salty potato chips and baked. It’s sweet, salty and a bargain for $.95.
When I inquired about Libby’s last name, she shared that her uncle was the great actor, dancer, choreographer and director, Bob Fosse and her mother was a Radio City Hall Rockette. Libby did not pursue dancing, but is a success in modeling and helping the Grub gals run a happy place to eat, relax and feel right at home. $-$$. Open Mon. – Thurs. at 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. form 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 911 N. Seward St., (323)461-3663.