My final day in LA was one for the record books, eating-wise. I finally got together with my cousins Ann and Steven, who you might remember from EP's visit to LA a while back. As soon as they picked me up we were off to the first (of many) eating experiences of the day.
Meltdown, etc is a grilled cheese restaurant that is only open for lunch. Once I heard about this place I HAD to try it so I could compare it to the other grilled cheese restaurant I visited while in Cleveland just a few days earlier, Melt Bar and Grilled. So here's a head to head comparison:
Melt Bar and Grilled is a restaurant and bar, with a funky vibe (check out the bread and crossbones logo on their web page-- love it!) and an extended beer list. My friend Hayley and I went for a late-ish dinner on a Friday night, and were impressed with the tattooed and pierced servers, interesting decor, and especially the ginormous grilled cheese sandwiches we saw on other people's plates! Melt offers a BIG selection of grilled cheeses but we finally settled on two, the chorizo and potato (sharp cheddar, spicy Mexican sausage) and the spinach pie (wilted garlic spinach, roasted red pepper, grilled onions, feta). We sipped our beers and soon enough, out came the sandwiches... all I can say is WOW! First of all, they were HUGE-- thick cut, crunchy grilled bread absolutely stuffed with hot, melt-y fillings. Alongside each was a massive pile of really great boardwalk style fries. Serious Midwest-sized portions, and did I mention each one was only $7.50!? What a bargain!
It barely fits on the plate!
Chorizo and Potato Grilled Cheese
Spinach Pie Grilled Cheese
Love this backlit glass art piece above the front door
Both sandwiches were great. The edge goes to the Spinach pie, which was super-tasty with a great balance of flavors. Chorizo and potato was also very good, but, and I can't believe I'm saying this, had a little too much potato. Who knew that was even possible? As much as I LOOOOVE potatoes, once you put them on bread, it starts getting a little ridiculous. Even for me. But overall we both loved Melt, I would love to go back and spend an evening nibbling grilled cheeses and sampling a bunch of those interesting beers... and then sleep for 14 hours.
But this is an LA post so let me get back to Cali, and discuss Meltdown, etc. Meltdown is a tiny little place with mostly outdoor seating (only about 10 tables). We ordered an array of food, paid at the counter, grabbed a table outsitde, and a few minutes later, out came the sandwiches. Between the three of us we shared a Classic 3 Cheese (sharp cheddar, muenster, and fontina on sourdough bread) with applewood bacon, a Caprese (fresh mozzarella, roma tomatoes, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and walnut pesto on ciabatta bread), and a Turkey Melt (brie, oven-roasted turkey breast, arugula, cranberry-horseradish mustard on walnut bread). These were definitely more "west-coast" portions-- the sandwiches were on standard-sized bread, and had a more manageable amount of cheese, etc on the inside. The favorite of the group was the classic 3 cheese with bacon, which had perfectly crunchy bread, lots of melted cheese, and, of course, bacon. Runner up was the turkey melt, which was very tasty (especially the cranberry horseradish mustard) but which we all agreed was not really grilled cheese, it was a turkey melt! Caprese came in last-- the mozzarella, oil and vinegar made the bread pretty soggy. Bummer.
Caprese: looks amazing, tastes mushy
Turkey Melt: delicious but disqualified
The final verdict: Melt Bar and Grilled in Cleveland trumps Meltdown, etc in LA. While outdoor dining and reasonable portions make sense in SoCal, I'll take the enormous sandwiches (and fries) at a great price in a funky, dive-y atmosphere. Also, Melt had beer!
After lunch at Meltdown, we ended up stopping for not one, but TWO desserts that afternoon! We took a short drive to Venice Beach and ended up at Pinkberry, which is apparently a big LA phenomenon (although I see from their website they also have locations in New York. Go figure). So, of course, I was skeptical; what's all the fuss over some frozen yogurt? Pinkberry claims to be "swirly goodness" and offers only two flavors (vanilla and green tea) and traditional candy toppings as well as fresh fruit. I was willing to try it. I ordered a small vanilla topped with pomegranate seeds (their featured fall season topping). As much as I was ready to dismiss Pinkberry as a silly fad, I have to admit it was really good. Unlike other frozen yogurt, which tries, unsuccessfully, to taste like ice cream, Pinkberry actually tastes like yogurt-- creamy and sweet but with a tangy flavor (Steven said it reminded him of cream cheese). It has a texture similar to ice milk, not ice cream, so its not overly rich. The slightly sour, crunchy pomegranate seeds on top were absolutely great with the yogurt. If you are anywhere near a Pinkberry, go get this right away. I can't believe I'm saying it, but I LOVED Pinkberry! Next thing you know I'll have a bejeweled cell phone and be carrying a dog in a purse!!
Beautiful and delicious!
There was a sign banning photography inside Pinkberry
so special thanks to Steven for hiding me
while I snapped a couple pics!
We strolled around the shops and even stopped into the Smart Car dealership for a few minutes before moving onto our next snack. Next we were off to Jin Patisserie... but that, my friends, is a post for another day! Don't you just love a cliffhanger??