April 12, 2010 – Joan’s On Third and Must Wine Bar’s Junk Food

12 Apr

2 pm

Joan’s on Third

turkey meatloaf sandwich

side of raw fennel salad

1 glass of Arnold Palmer

While most people might associate Joan’s on Third as a regular setting for celebrity sightings in the pages of Us Weekly, I will always associate it with my former employers at E! Four cupcakes from Joan’s was always the de rigueur birthday treat of choice that my office mates gifted on whomever the birthday belonged to. One of the cupcakes was almost always marshmallow cloud, which is pretty tall and had to be laid sideways in a box, thereby deforming the other cupcakes. And I’d always eat two of the four cupcakes, which inevitably made me feel fat, bloated and bitchy about my weight like Kirstie Alley. Ah, memories I also worked on a different E! show where my boss bought us lunch at Joan’s on Third every Friday. I always got the cold turkey meatloaf sandwich on a baguette. I’ve never tried anything else on the menu before or since. I like the turkey meatloaf but don’t love it. I just ordered the same thing because it was easier on my production assistants, and it eventually became a routine I took comfort in. So when a friend and former coworker from E! was treating me to lunch, Joan’s  on Third felt like an appropriate meeting spot. As silly as it sounds, I can compartmentalize all my memories of my former employer into one place, which makes it easy to revisit, or avoid, when I want.

8 pm

Must Wine Bar

1/2 order of tater tots

2 mini chicken sliders

1/2 order of soy hamburger helper

1/2 ice cream birthday cake

2 pints of Lost Coast Downtown Brown beer

Tater tots. Hamburger Helper. Fried Chicken sandwiches. If Jamie Oliver saw the menu at Must Wine Bar, he’d weep. Must takes all the food that we loved and ate as kids and “upscales” it for adult sensibilities, although I don’t know how much upscaling they actually do other than add cheese to everything. The soy “hamburger helper” is just a giant bowl of melted Velveeta mixed with soy meat and as awful as it sounds. Tater tots are well, tater tots, except you get a choice of two cloyingly rich cheese sauce to dip in. They also make their own version of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches with smoked mozzarella added. It’s laughable that they call themselves a wine bar because none of the food is going to pair with any wine. If you’re a serious wine drinker, you’d also weep at how the food obliterates your palate.  But if you like cheesy (in the literal sense) junk food with pints of microbrew in a loud, boisterous setting where the soundtrack is any band that Pitchfork likes, then you won’t mind Must. They actually serve 40 oz. malt liquors like Colt .45 and Schlitz for a ridiculous price of $7, and there’s a mural in the women’s bathroom of a girl riding a giant hot dog (according to my friend). Their sense of humor will try your patience. At the same time, the birthday cake was a huge slab of ice cream and frosting dressed like funfetti, and it was appropriately tasty. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed my meal here, but I also enjoyed eating Velveeta cheese and processed tater tots as a kid. It brought back idyllic childhood memories. And then at the end of the night, I realized that Jamie Oliver is fighting a losing battle with us.

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