First off, if I am writing about it, I liked it. I don’t write bad reviews. If an experience was poor, I will tell the manager and/or owner. Hopefully it will help them to improve. I had a great experience at Food + Lab and I want to tell you about it!
I went to Food Lab yesterday for lunch with my friend, Holly. It was Holly’s choice and I had never heard of the place or been there before. Holly had seen it and wanted to try it but had never been there either. Holly is a chef, so I enjoy going out to eat with her. She knows her stuff! I can ask her anything. She is discriminating about food and restaurants, understandably so, and she has a love of food that I can appreciate. Yesterday was fun!
Food + Lab is on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. They have another location in Silverlake and they do catering. There is parking in back. They have a few sidewalk tables on the street side, seating indoors and a lovely patio in back. We sat in the patio.
I really liked what I saw at the Food Lab! I was impressed with the lunch menu and I wanted to try everything! You order at the counter and they bring the food to your table. There is a case of cold salads and the kitchen is visible. They have shelves of candy and nuts that they prepare and package there. Everything is in little tubs and bottles and I thought it was clever, food and a lab. I get it! The counter service was helpful and charming. Everything was clean and inviting. I ate my share (plus one or two) of the sample chocolate covered fruit and nuts while I ordered and waited for my receipt. Yum!
I really did want to try everything! The first thing on the lunch menu sounded amazing to me, ORGANIC CURRIED CHICKEN WITH LINGONBERRY CHUTNEY ON RAISIN WALNUT. OMG. My mouth was watering. I always like to read the whole menu before I decide. It was a good thing I did. Because after reading about the TURKEY BREAST WITH BRIE, PEAR, and HONEY, the CUBAN STYLE PORK LOIN, GRUYERE, HAM, PICKLES & MUSTARD ON CIABATTA, and the SMOKED SALMON WITH CREME FRAICHE, CUCUMBER & LIME ZEST ON WHEAT, I saw it all the way at the bottom of the menu. I will admit, I am a sucker for grilled cheese. Any grilled cheese. My brother makes the best. I make the second best. I died and went to Heaven when I tried the “Brie Melt” from The Grilled Cheese Truck (it comes with Double Cream Brie, Bourbon Chicken, Maple-glazed Yams, and Candied Walnuts on Rosemary Bread.) So, I had to try this . . .
GRILLED CHEESE: GRUYERE, TALLEGIO & RACLETTE ON 5 GRAIN W. CARAMALIZED ONION & GRAINY MUSTARD!
It was amazing! I must confess, I was talking so much with Holly that I only got one bite in when it was warm and gooey. It had just enough of the rind from the brie in it to suit my taste, but Holly didn’t like that. It was heavy on the carmelized onion, which was fine with me! The five-grain bread was sliced thin and lightly toasted to perfection. The grainy mustard was served on the side, which made me happy. I didn’t end up trying it with the mustard, it was so good and I talked so much, I forgot. I ate half of the sandwich there and took the other half home.
The salad we tried was off menu, it was chopped kale with shredded cheese. I thought it was yummy and had a nice zest to it. It was very fresh and colorful. It was a good pair with my sandwich. Holly had a chicken sandwich with a buffalo sauce on a ciabatta (I think, because I didn’t see this on the menu) that I tasted. It was good, just enough spice for me. But nothing prepared me for the experience I had yet to come.
I took the long way home on my trek back to the Valley from Hollywood. While I was driving through the canyon, I reached over and opened the little Food + Lab box that I had on the passenger seat. I reached in and grabbed a quarter of my sandwich. It was surprisingly warm from sitting in the sun, I guess. Just a bit warmer than room temp. So, the cheese was a good consistency and was just a bit chewy. To my delight, just a smidge of the grainy mustard had grazed the side of the crust. I took the perfect bite. In my mouth danced all the flavors that had been marinating together in that box. I was blown away by the sweetness of the carmelized onions, the creaminess of the brie and other cheeses glued together, the tanginess of the mustard and the nuttiness of the seeds in the bread (reminiscent of pine nuts) and the way everything melted in my mouth was like rich butter. I savored every last bite of that sandwich on my ride home through the canyon. Those flavors enhanced an otherwise perfect sunshiny top down ride on my favorite road! It was so unexpected and thoroughly sinful!