It’s been a long time since I’ve come across a menu that’s so good, I wanted to order pretty much everything on it...and that’s exactly what I found at The Village Idiot on Melrose. (I think my friend David thought I was crazy considering I kept repeating, “this is my dream menu” out loud…to no one in particular…like 10 times!) From the salads, to the entrees, to desserts…the selection makes you want to jump for joy and cry at the same time…jump for joy because you seemingly can’t go wrong with what you pick and cry because there is no way you’re going to be able to try every amazing thing on that menu in one sitting! Imagine my torturous mind when I had to choose between things like: house cured local halibut w/ summer melons, serranos, daikon sprouts & lemon vinaigrette; lemon ricotta pancakes w/ sliced bananas, honeycomb butter & Vermont dark amber maple syrup; and peach & crème fraiche ice box pie w/ peach puree…I mean come on!!
Funny that after coming here a few times late at night for little get-togethers, I had discounted this place as just another hipster hang out w/ people packed in like sardines…I didn’t even realize they were open during the day, let alone housing some serious culinary fare! Eating here during normal meal times is in stark contrast to what I had experienced late night; for brunch it was open and airy w/ little breezes coming through the giant raised windows that faced Melrose ave…you still get the hip crowd but it’s so much more relaxing and civilized.
Since it was really hard to choose what to order…we decided on 4 things to share: Cinnamon Orange French Toast w/ thick-cut smoked bacon and Vermont dark amber maple syrup…I know this sounds very self-explanatory but the French Toast tastes like it’s infused with a hint of spiced orange flavor (you know like a tea) and is extra amazing with a bite of the smoked bacon dipped in syrup! I don’t even really like French Toast but this was beyond tasty!
Baked herbed goat cheese w/ long stem arugula, thomcord grapes, and pomegranate vinaigrette…though, like a moron, I almost choked since I was too impatient to cut one of the longer stemmed pieces of arugula that ended up lining and protruding from my throat at the same time (tmi?)…this salad was the perfect light and fresh contrast to the heavier French Toast and Grilled Cheese that we ordered. I suggest eating the 3 elements together for a complete understanding of why this salad works so well...the sweet grape paired w/ the acidity of the baked goat cheese and nutty arugula makes your taste buds go wild!
Sourdough grilled cheese w/ gruyere, smoked bacon, and pickled jalapeño...(apparently, someone was on a little bacon kick!) It’s really hard to go wrong with gourmet grilled cheeses, especially when it’s made with one of my favorites…gruyere! I hate to admit it, but we were afraid of the jalapeños so got them on the side…towards the end I decided to be adventurous because I knew there had to be a reason why the jalapenos were an initial component of the sandwich. Reason being…the pickled jalapenos balance the rich gruyere and hearty smoked bacon with spice and tartness…sometimes you just have to trust the chef!
When I glanced at the dessert menu while trying to decide on my main course order, I saw the Strawberry shaved ice w/ orange cream and wanted to flip natural meal order and have dessert 1st…I LOVE shaved ice and though I’ve had it many times at little shops and stands…never at a restaurant! Icy and cold was the right way to go for a hot summer day. This was like a twist on the ever-popular strawberries and cream…I felt like I was in an episode of Top Chef! The dessert features this awesome finely shaved strawberry ice (but it’s not a syrup…they must concoct some sort of strawberry/sugar/water type mixture and then shave it down to make this incredibly well-flavored treat) and the orange cream is a really great creamy yin to the ice’s yang…kind of like an upgraded whipped cream w/ a little orange zest. Together, this duo was my own personal happy ending to a meal that was easily the highlight of my weekend.
...and a little birdie told me the brussels sprouts are insane! So I'll be back very soon!
The Village Idiot
7383 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046