grilled cheese sandwich with gruyere and whole-grain mustard
I usually spend about $40 a week on groceries, sticking mostly to what’s on sale. But one thing I almost always splurge on is cheese. Sacre bleu! Remember that Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns walks across the ceiling to steal a teddy bear, only to be foiled by Homer eating 64 slices of individually wrapped cheese at night? I once ate 12 slices as a snack. Since then, I upgraded a little. I still keep a pack of Kraft’s individually-wrapped cheese , but I also keep something a little better. Gruyere and Manchego are two popular choices because they make great grilled cheese sandwiches, like the one pictured above.
chicken strips with tater tots (shared)
1 glass Arnold Palmer
I have to explain why I ate two lunches. Abigail wanted to meet really quickly for lunch and we originally chose some cafe off Cahuenga. So when I get there, she says, “I want chicken strips.” Conveniently enough, we were outside a classy sports bar called Big Wang’s. I should note that Abigail hates sports, and bars devoted to sports and especially a sport bar called Big Wang’s. Just last week, when the Dodgers-Cubs game was on TV at a bar, she asked, “is that the World Series?” So the last place I expected to go, with Abigail, on a Saturday afternoon full of college football, was Big Wangs. I hesitated walking in because my mind couldn’t reconcile this fact. Needless to say, I inevitably ate two chicken strips and five pieces of tater tots. Abigail satisfied her chicken strip craving, and I got to watch Texas close out a big win in a sports bar. It worked out for both of us.
1562 N. Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Vertical Wine Bar + Bistro
date poppers (dates with ham, gorgonzola and pickled jalapenos)
mini grilled cheese with radicchio
seared sea scallops with mashed potatoes, mushrooms and asparagus
bottle of 2007 Argiolas, Nuragas di Cagliari
Another Saturday in Pasadena. This time, it was for an art show that Abigail, Hilary and I never made it to. Oh well, at least there was dinner.
Also, I only took one picture of my meal because the restaurant was WAY too dark. This is the only visible picture I have, of the date “poppers:
The dark interior is kinda cool though, a rather simple cream walls and dark woods. You have to walk up a flight of stairs to get to a pretty intimate space, the tables are pretty close together. There isn’t a lot of space for large parties, this is a better place for dates and small gatherings.
“Vertical Wine Bistro,” as the name implies, tries to be serious about wine while excusing itself for a more ambitious menu. There were two complimentary things we got right when we sat down, a glass of water with lemon and bread with a spicy red pepper remoulade. Most wine bars don’t put lemon in water because the citric acid throws off the palate. And the remoulade was so spicy, it would obliterate any wines. The two appetizers we ordered, date “poppers” with ham, gorgonzola and jalapenos, and a grilled cheese on walnut bread and what ended up being a cranberry spread, were bracingly sweet and overpowering. The main dishes fared a lot better. Hilary’s wild salmon dish with figs, bacon and brussel sprout was spot-on and best of the night. My seared scallops weren’t compelling, but it was still satisfying. Abigail made a light meal out of a small charcuterie plate of ham, point reyes blue and apples. The wine our friendly server steered us to, an Argiolas from Sardinia, worked out.
Vertical Wine Bistro
70 N. Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103