Greenspans is tiny and sandwiched (no pun intended) in between a bar and some tacky Melrose clothing store on the old Tommy Tang strip of Melrose, where Evan Kleiman opened Angeli Cafe all those years ago. Back then all of the good actors in town could be found in Milton Katselas’s Mon and Wed night class at the Zepher Theater just across the street, and Chianti was down the block serving up perfect stracciatella soup. That stretch was something back in its day. (Pardon the walk back 30 years).
Well, seasoned chef Eric Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese is going to bring that block back. It’s good. It’s real good.
My friend Sandy emailed me last week. “Just came back from a place that’s right up your alley”. My friend Sandy is a woman in the know and she certainly knows what alleys I frequent.
She’s also very discriminating and not prone to false alarms or wasting anyone’s time, so my interest was piqued. When I heard the name, Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese, I was more than curious, I was out the door. Not being a lady who lunches, my friend Sandy was a bit surprised, and I hope delighted, that I emailed her straight back asking for a lunch date.
Sandy and her husband Marty are both people with a lot of hyphenates after their names and resumes, showing they are risk taking creative types who’ve done many things very well, including owning a hot dog restaurant in Beverly Hills called Marty D’s.
For years they had a 4th of July party serving “Marty’s wieners” with “no substitutions” which, surprisingly, (due to the no substitution rule, here in the land of renegades!) was always well attended. I suggested we invite our guys to come with us. My husband is always game for a good grilled cheese and Marty, who doesn’t give his seal of approval lightly, would give us perspective.
So today was the day. Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese Day. The day I’d prepared for. Or so I thought. Had I known about the mini potato latkes that look like tiny sputniks, I never would have gone to Dominicks’s for fried potatoes with onions and garlic Monday night. I did forgo my usual breakfast for a handful of cherries and a piece of whole grain toast, fasting for the big payoff.
We ordered the Johnny Apple Cheese aka Johnny Pastrami: sourdough bread, aged white cheddar, apple mustard chutney and pastrami, for the men, and Sandy and I shared a Johnny Apple Cheese sans the pastrami and a Classic, white bread and American cheese thinking we’d all share that. Think again. Gone Baby Gone! Sandy and I should have ordered The Champ; raisin walnut bread, Taleggio, beef short ribs, apricot caper puree dried tomato, but I will be going back for it next week. My husband is going back for the Cuban Rueben; pumpernickel bread, Gruyere cheese, mustard, pickles, pulled pork, house made kraut.
When Eric stopped by to ask if everyone was happy he had to wait until four sets of choppers finished and we could smile and swallow at the same time. Coming up for air I casually mentioned something about being a tuna salad sand kind of girl and I had to beg him not to bring me what he described as the best tuna melt ever! Wheat bread, Muenster cheese, tuna salad, cucumbers and grapes. He had me at Muenster, yet I can see how finishing it off with the grapes could give it that sweet kick.
For those not in the mood or abstaining from dairy, there are three dandy salads on the menu that come with cheddar, blue cheese and goat cheese croutons that can be omitted.
What could be better with a grilled cheese sand than a cup of tomato soup. His tomato basil comes in a bowl, a cup and, ready for this, a one dollar dip you can dunk your sandwich into. Pretty clever and very tasty. French fries with garlic lemon aioli and those potato latkes with apple crème fraiche are absolutely a must and an either or situation for sure. Remember you want to walk away happy. Walk being the operative word here. For me the fries were perfect. Well done, crisp, with the right amount of salt. I wanted to shoo every hand but my own out of the basket. The mini Latkes or “Latke bites” as they are referred to on the menu, were, for me, a first bite wonder. Quickly realizing that midway into the second bite, I decided to stick to the fries".
GGC (Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese) offers three desserts. Three too many in my book after a Johnny Apple Cheese and half a classic and most of a basket of fries. Two of them I’d love to try on another day and one, that, Eric will hate me for saying, sounds absolutely hideous. Throw back apple pie: bring it on. Classically prepared S’mores: yum yum. But The Elvis: white bread, banana, peanut butter cream cheese and you can add bacon…put it where the King died, Honey, but don’t bring it to me!
Smart Mr. Greenspan notes on his menu that gluten free bread and soy cheese are available upon request. Of course, it’s LA!
When pal, Sandy-gal-in-the-know, asked if I liked it, she got a big two thumbs up from me and the guys. I’m already thinking maybe I’ll do the Cuban Rueben minus the pulled pork, instead of The Champ next week, and absolutely with a side of fries.
Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese
7461 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
LA based Writer, Annie Stein, has written for C and More Magazines, NYTimes and is a regular blogger on Huffington Post. She runs creative writing workshops for at risk teens.