I heard about Givral’s Sandwich and Café through online reviews. Okay, so technically I read about it. At the time I was still new to Houston and was craving banh mi, if you don’t know what that is it is Vietnamese sandwiches. I’m not sure what all they put into the sandwiches but I do know you can get pork, chicken or beef, or all if that’s how you like it. Givral’s got such good reviews and high praises for their food and service that I figure it was worth trying out.
It was located in the heart of down town, in what I consider to be kind of a run down area. There were many businesses at one point but now it just looked like a lot of abandon buildings and shops that have gone out of business, or look like they’ve gone out of business. It took me a while to find the place because it was in a little area, almost hidden and had I not seen the sign I would’ve driven right pass it. In fact I think I circled the area twice before I noticed the café sign.
I went in and found that it looked very much like some of the sandwich places in the new China Town. There were lots of tables and booths, many people packed in. My boyfriend and I ordered banh mi sandwiches and one vermicelli dish, it’s the noodle stuff that comes with chicken or beef, a side of egg rolls and some shredded vegetables. It’s our standard order at any place like this and takes about 20 minutes tops to make. There was a steady flow of people coming in and out but it wasn’t ridiculously busy so the amount of time it took for us to get our order was in my opinion way too long. We sat there for an hour before we got our food. The vermicelli I understand takes a little longer but it’s not a complicated dish to make so it shouldn’t have taken more than 15 minutes to put together. The sandwiches I’ve seen put together at other places in front of me, much like Subways, and that shouldn’t take more than five minutes. So for us to have to wait one hour for our food when we only ordered those items is just appalling.
Not only was the service painfully slow but they didn’t bother to check up on us. My boyfriend had to go up to them and ask about our food, apparently they had forgotten about us. That’s just unacceptable. We had been sitting there for an hour, watching people come in and out of the place eating, finishing, and leaving while we waited for our food.
When we did get our food I was disappointed. From the reviews I was expecting the sandwiches to be great, at least better than what I’ve had in the past. It wasn’t. The bread was beyond crunchy, it was hard as a brick, the stuffing was very minimal. It was mostly just bread. The sandwich overall was bland, dry and hard. My boyfriend’s vermicelli dish wasn’t anything special either.
Aside from the bad service and bland food, did I mention that they only accept cash? Yes, after finding the place and trying to find parking we were told that they only accept cash. So we had to go find an ATM, then come back and park and order our food. It was just a horrible experience for us. We never went back.