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Dining Review: Tip-top service matches the dining at Brand 158

January 02, 2014|By Lisa Dupuy
  • The Peruvian purple quinoa is served warm with shallots, Italian parsley, almonds and sauted mango, at Brand158 Restaurant & Bar in on the 100 block of S. Brand in Glendale, on Thursday, January 2, 2014.
The Peruvian purple quinoa is served warm with shallots,… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

The first thing they tell you when you sit down at Brand 158, the month-old restaurant across from the Americana, is that they don’t accept tips. Staff are paid competitive wages and the best tip, they say, is a patron’s return visit. The second thing they tell you is that payment is preferred by credit or debit card. Servers handling food and bartenders squeezing limes are not allowed to touch cash or coins. If cash is all a patron has, gift cards for the exact amount are available at the host station.

Not tipping is common in Europe and Asia but this is rather groundbreaking here in the States. So much so that we found the rule hard to follow especially after the excellent service we received. We requested they put a higher amount on the credit card but it came back for signature with the original total. We found this surprising and very classy. We will be coming back but that’s not the only reason why.

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We had no fewer than six “assistants” making sure all of our needs were taken care of. The no-tip philosophy breeds a camaraderie and cooperativeness among staff members that you don’t see everywhere. When the overhead lights were too bright, two people worked out a way to dim them right then and there. When there was a mix-up over an order, the owner and a manager came out twice to assure us the correct order was on its way. They charged us for the less pricey item and comped us a dessert. (In case you’re wondering, they had no idea I was reviewing the restaurant.) All of this is to say our service was beyond reproach. Now for the food.

All the things we ate and drank were tasty and over half were bordering on heavenly. The most memorable was the blackened sea bass ($28), a succulent snow white filet with a spiced exterior seared to a crisp. It sat atop a corn-bell pepper melange which was pleasing but seemed a little incongruous in December. Judging by the prevalence of summer produce (corn, tomatoes, mangoes) in the dead of winter, veteran chef Peter Roelant is not a slave to the locally grown/farm-to-table trend.

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