Chef Eric Greenspan has had a lot on his plate lately. He shuts down his restaurant The Foundry for remodeling, opens a new restaurant someplace else called The Roof on Wilshire with his restaurant group, he tries to become the Next Iron Chef, he beats Chef Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America (and I’m so glad that he kicked his ass in the competition), and he also appears in his own internet cooking adventure series called The Melt Master through the YouTube channel Tasted. With all these things going on, I was wondering when I’m going to eat The Champ, the grilled cheese sandwich with Tallegio cheese and Beef Short Rib meat that Greenspan is so famous for winning the trophy at the Grilled Cheese Invitational in 2008. Well, it’s finally back! Yes, the gooey grilled cheese sandwiches are back with the restaurant debut of Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese.
As I strolled through the funky urbanesque clothing boutiques on Melrose Avenue, I couldn’t help but notice the cheese colored restaurant from the sidewalk. Yeah, Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese is what Melrose Avenue needed to add that edge the food scene in Fairfax area of Los Angeles. Since Greenspan’s restaurant, The Foundry, closed for renovations, Melrose Avenue has been a bit sleepy.
I, for one thing, like the concept of Chef Eric Greenspan’s new restaurant especially the lack of tables and chairs inside the joint. In my humble opinion, the “stand up and eat at the counter” thing is the best way to really get to know your fellow grilled cheese connoisseurs. However, what I’ve also learned after dining for the first time at this place is that you’re more compelled to eat faster and to order more food before the crowd lines up outside the door.
I’ve also learned, while my friends and I waited for our meals, is that you can actually sit down and eat next door at the Melrose Umbrella Company, a bar that occupies the space where The Foundry (Greenspan’s currently shuttered restaurant) used to be. The schpiel from the street is that Greenspan cut a deal with the current tenants, Melrose Umbrella Company, to sell his signature grilled cheese sandwiches through their bar. The guys and gals place your food orders for you and they deliver it direct to your table while you sip on a cocktail or two.
However, as previously mentioned, I quite like the “stand up and eat at the counter” thing. I like mingling with fellow patrons and the fair amount of people watching that standing up and eating forces you to do.
I also like the simple 8-item menu of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to choose from including a customize-your-own sandwich thing too. There’s also an awesome Tomato and Basil Soup that has a slight tangy taste to it that’s like the perfect accompaniment to the grilled cheese sandwiches. The serving comes in three sizes; dipping, cup, and bowl sizes.
There’s a complete soda fountain of Coca-Cola products as well as customize beverages made with fizzy seltzer water. Pictured above is the Passion Fruit Peach Seltzer.
Of all things, the only item that I didn’t like was salad. There is nothing special with the Baby Spinach and Roasted Beet Salad other than a few cubes of grilled cheese croutons that look good on the outside yet lack flavor in the inside. The Balsamic dressing is ghastly; it’s too thick and it desensitizes your taste buds. I know you’re on a diet or are health-conscious person, but seriously folks…ditch the salads at this place! It’s boring.
Instead, what’s not boring is ordering another cup of Tomato and Basil Soup and a grilled cheese sandwich like The Med ($7.75). It’s an interesting grilled cheese sammie on Challah Bread with Goat Cheese, tomatoes, roasted peppers, and artichokes. The flavors are ever so delicate yet tasty.
Besides the grilled cheese sandwiches, the next best thing on the menu are the coveted potato Latke Bites with an Apple Creme Fraiche dipping sauce ($3.25). Oh man! There was a lot of time and effort in making this Latkes fresh by hand and plenty of waiting time for them to fry up and get to you, but I tell ya, these Latkes are worth every minute to wait for. They’re deliciously crisp on outside, tender and juicy in the inside. The sauce adds a refreshing flavor too.
As a Comfort Food fanatic, I hereby designate Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese as THE go-to destination for grilled cheese sandwiches in Los Angeles. It’s about time, right?
Hey Greenspan, thanks for not depriving me of grilled sandwiches. Yeah, I was the lucky 25th customer to get a free sandwich. Thanks man.