Friday, December 28, 2007

Griddle Cafe: It’s cheesecake…no wait, it’s French toast…no wait…

There are only two things in the world that can make me wake up voluntarily at 7am on a holiday. One is to go on vacation (I prefer morning flights) and the other is...

Breakfast. I love breakfast food (and not only just during breakfast time. I love breakfast at any hour of the day). I will wake up at 7am and take a bus across the city if that’s what it takes to get good breakfast. No joke – Kenji and I used to always meet up for breakfast at the Flying Pan back home. And the Flying Pan was #1 on my list for breakfast. That is, until today where it’s dropped to #6 on the list. The first 5 spots are now taken by The Griddle Café.

(The magic begins with the Creme de la Creme French toast)

I. LOVE. THE. GRIDDLE. CAFÉ. Really. I love it more than I love daisies and little puppies. You know how there are some places which are really hyped up and you go with high expectations only to find that it’s really not as good as everyone says it is? Well, the Griddle Café was NOT one of those places. The Griddle Café was 100% genuine, down-to-earth, KICK-ASS food. It’s no wonder this place is such an institution.

When we walked in though, there was a mildly attractive but horribly rude waitress to greet us. She cleaned the table for us and when I smiled and said ‘thank you’, (note: though I am usually an unpleasant person, I am strangely really nice to strangers) she just looked at us, and in an impatient and pretty demanding tone, told us to “sit”. She was probably an aspiring actress who was working at the Griddle to pay the rent. I guess she was being bitchy because she didn’t get a callback…probably because she gave the audition panel attitude as well.

Bernard and I were pretty put off…that is, until our serving waitress came up to our table. Hmmm…how should I describe her? She was like the love-child of a rainbow and a beam of sunshine…not to mention, she looked like a (pretty version of) Cameron Diaz. She flitted to our table and sprinkled her magical good-service fairy dust over our heads and we were all happy again. I was soooo glad bitchy-girl wasn’t our waitress! So if you ever go to the Griddle Café and get shitty service, don’t write it off just yet – you were probably just unlucky and got the bad-egg server.

After looking through the menu (which has a huge selection…with everything – seriously, EVERYTHING – sounding really good), I decided to go with the Crème de la Crème French toast ($10.95) and Bernard got the Golden Ticket pancakes ($10.95). My French toast was amazing…like cry-worthy amazing. I’m not even being over-dramatic – I definitely felt some small tears welling up at the back of my eyes. I mean, I’m no stranger to French toast – I’ve had a fair share in my time – but this was definitely something special. Two slices of thick French toast covered with graham cracker crumbs and then topped off with powdered sugar and the magic ingredient – the Griddle Café’s cheesecake topping. It’s a cheesecake disguised as a French toast! And what I’m about to say next is completely honest – not only was this French toast better than all other French toasts I’ve had, it was also better than most cheesecakes I’ve had! Bernard’s Golden Ticket pancakes were light and fluffy, yet every bite was packed with brown-sugared bananas, caramel, streusel, and walnuts. I would’ve taken more of Bernard’s pancakes but I was just too enamored with my own French toast. I also ordered a pot of their dark roast French-pressed coffee ($3.35) which came in a French-press to keep at the table. The coffee was so friggin’ awesome and was especially good for washing down all that sweet sweet sugar. If you like coffee – DEFINITELY try their French-pressed coffee. Yes, it’s a little pricey but you get a whole pot to yourself (with complimentary refills).

(The MONSTER-sized Golden Ticket pancakes could hardly fit on the plate!)

Word of warning: portions are big large huge FUCKING GARGANTUAN. There should be a law against the sizes they serve up. Just one slice of my toast was bigger than two slices of what they serve at most other places. Even with that, the size of the French toast didn’t seem that ridiculous anymore when compared to the pancakes. The pancakes must have been at least 10” across…and there were THREE to a plate. The food here is dirt cheap when you consider the portion sizes (seriously, we could live off the leftovers for the next 3 days). You can tell that the restaurant EXPECTS people to box up their food because there was a giant shelf of white take-away boxes near the kitchen. A couple sitting near us grinned when they saw Bernard admit defeat to his pancakes and told us, “we’ve been here a few times so we’ve learnt to only order one to split”. Smart people. One of their pancake servings could probably feed a family of 5.

The atmosphere was great. Some reviews said the place can seem a bit pretentious, since it’s a popular hangout for scenesters but we were there at around 9am on a weekday morning so the scenesters were still probably in bed, passed out from last night’s partAy. Instead, the place was filled with people who genuinely like good food (my favorite kind of people) and if you enjoy the blues (think Robert Johnson), you’ll extra-love the Griddle Café. There was no wait when we got there but by the time we left the place (around 9.45am), a line was already beginning to form outside. I also heard crazy stories about the lines at weekends. So, take a tip from me – go before 9.30 on a weekday and you’ll have a ball.

Our final bill came out to $30 for two people (plus a big tip for Cameron Diaz-waitress, NOT bitchy-waitress). Again, dirt cheap for the amount and quality of food we got. Bernard and I could have ordered something to share and that would’ve probably cost less than $15 between us. Oh well, at least we’re educated for when we visit again (and you can be sure as hell we’ll visit again!)

FOOD: 5/5
SERVICE: hit-or-miss

The Griddle Cafe ($$)
7916 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046

*Random note: I bought some yellow roses today and they are B-E-A-UTIFUL!! They should be in full bloom in a day or two...I'm so excited :)

(All you need is love...and a bunch of yellow roses to brighten up a room)

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