I can’t stand the idea of bugs, flies, spiders or any sort of insect near me, much less in my food. Fortunately or unfortunately, diners have no clue and no control of what goes on inside the kitchens of most restaurants. Who knows what the conditions are like behind the swinging doors. At a few establishments, however, the kitchen or prep area is out in the open. I’m referring to places like Subway, Quizno’s, taco stands, and to some extent, Panda Express and El Pollo Loco.
For lunch the other day, I stopped at O Salads, a restaurant in Irwindale that’s basically a large salad bar. The last thing I expected to see was flies buzzing around, but I saw at least three. One was a super plump fly resting on the counter. Another was flying wildly all over the restaurant. The third was crawling on the slices of carrots and cauliflower.
You might say that three flies is no big deal. I’m sure there are worse kitchens and more serious health violations at other restaurants. And really, O Salads seems like a very clean, well-run restaurant. But watching the flies buzz around made me lose my appetite for a salad.
I went next door to Xa Vietnamese Grill and ordered a plate of grilled beef over rice.
What you have for lunch today? I had a quesadilla and side salad at Caffe Notrellis. The entire dish cost about $7.
Caffe Notrellis has great sandwiches, pastas, soups and salads. They also have a great selection of cookies and baked treats. The people are very friendly, and the food is consistently good! However, service can get very slow when the restaurant is busy.
4918 Irwindale Ave
Irwindale, CA 91706
Judging from the wistful gleams in my colleagues’ eyes when I tell them I went to lunch at Caffe Notrellis, this little lunch counter is much-loved around the Tribune newsroom, despite being a little more expensive than we poor reporters prefer to pay for lunch.
The Irwindale cafe has a surprising amount of charm for being in an office park. Petite cafe tables, cheery yellow walls and pink bougainvillea over the front patio help the lunchtime business crowd forget their mundane surroundings. The food is good, but still feels overpriced at nearly $7 for a sandwich.
The ingredients in the cafe’s paninis, pastas and salads hint at either appreciation of foodie ingredients or perhaps just copy-cat pretension: blue cheese and brie, curried chicken salad, jasmine rice, peanut sauce. Perhaps that’s why the Basil Pesto Pasta With Chicken comes to about $9, with tax.