Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Community, The Search for Green Cake is Over!

Now If I didn't live here, I'd probably do what people from out of town do all the time, and go to places that are famous or have been written about in travel books. But if you want a more local experience, then trust me when I steer you towards little gems, as I've discovered Community as being.

According to the co-owner, Community has been on Hillhurst in Los Feliz for about two years. Really? How the hell did I not notice it? But when you go to the same street every day, isn't it amazing what you overlook? Maybe it's because this is the same street where I get so much stuff done. Lassens, for example, is on the corner of Ambrose and Hillhurst.

Lassens is kind of like Whole Foods without the Holier-Than-Thou attitude. And by the way, I go to Whole Foods. I think Whole Foods is practically without rival when it comes to fruit, vegetables and oddly low-priced clothing that is good for travel. But I don't know, maybe I hate my own Holier-Than-Thou kind because whenever I go to Whole Foods, from the moment I get out of my car (or enter the parking lot if I'm in West Hollywood) I experience a constant but persistent low level of irritation. The whole experience is sort of riddled with the feeling that I'm a sucker. Like I'm part of a wide-reaching cult but I'm the one who knows it's all a lie and yet I can't break free because I just don't have the guts.

Little natural foods stores like Lassens are old-school annoying. People are slower there (or more testy depending on what food they're not eating). But that all aside, Lassen's has everything you need and some very helpful employees. It reminds me of the first natural food places in teeny towns that had frozen yogurt machines and really messy carrot juice counters. Back before granola was fattening. Before people turned on wheat. I love it here and frankly they have an awesome vitamin selection. Cheaper than Whole Foods for sure. And if you're looking for a fresh sammy to take to Griffith Park or to wolf down in your car, Lassens is worth it. I'm a sandwich snob so trust me on this.

Also on this little stretch of Hillhurst is Leo's Salon. I go there once a week if I can because my favorite manicurist, Maria, is there. 

I didn't see Maria there because it's closed on Tuesdays.
I don't know how I found this place but now I'm so glad I have. I grasp the fun of getting your mani or pedi with a friend at one of the Korean places, stretched out listening to Muzac versions of "Walk This Way" and paying 5 dollars for another 5 minutes of calf-rubbing, but I like my convos with Maria and she does a VERY GOOD JOB. Like the best. It's just me and her, catching up on this and that, and watching the strange people who come in and out of the joint. This isn't a fancy dancy place or like I said, one of the many Korean salons. This is a small shop where it seems a lot of old people and B actors go. And me. I'm comfortable here and Maria's the salt of the earth. Not to mention it's not expensive AND she's a meticulous waxer as well.

And then past the other nail place is Community. 2 years it's been here. Just sitting here. Accepting me ignoring it. I'm so sorry Community. How many lunches could I have had if I had just opened my eyes????

It's that little brown building next to Copy Cat. See? Doesn't quite stand out.
Okay so I enter. Sit down. There are nice long wooden tables. And comfortable chairs. And it's a sparse but pleasant looking room. Very simple art. Sort of a clean mod-country-hip-Martha-Stewart thing going on.

My friend Susannah walks in not shortly after. Tuesday has somehow become the day I have lunch with my new bud. I'm always entertained watching her order since she frets like crazy over what to get and whatever it is, once my dish arrives, she knows she positively ordered the wrong thing.
Look how serious she is
And not that I'm not normally nice to waiters. But when the waiter's new and sweet as can be, I feel as if I've been given a job. Like I am now supposed to be nicer than the other people he might encounter today. Almost overly nice. Like I'm the nicest person he's ever met in his LIFE.

Look at how he's smiling at me. I AM THE NICEST PERSON HE'S MET TODAY!

They do this thing there where they have the waiter ask for your first name. I think it's to be friendly. Well, frankly I think it's some kind of a ploy. Like a whole, "Relax, laugh, enjoy, feel good here. We're all a part of the same... community." What what? Yeah, I don't love ploys AT ALL. 

But when this one asks you what your name is...

Who are you to be a jerk about it? No! That would be so freakin uncool! REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE THE NICEST PERSON EVER, RIGHT? And frankly, so is he. So you proudly say your name, smile and relax. Laugh with Luca. Ha ha! You are a part of this thing. So is he. This... community. 

The menu is homey, yummy, comfort-y but the food doesn't taste heavy and certainly not greasy. In fact it tastes clean. It seems like the perfect respite if, for example, you were going to hang out in Griffith but want to catch a lunch or early dinner (it closes at 8 pm). Or if you want to meet a good bud for lunch but would like enough energy to be productive in the afternoon, this is a good spot. To that end, all their sammies can be made into salads if you're off the bread (and if you are, no offense but really, keep it to yourself. That's so 2012). In fact Susannah did get her Turkey BLT as a salad and I did the same with my Fried Chicken Sandwich. Because I'm off the bread (whoops).

Fried Chicken (as a salad) and Turkey BLT (as a salad)
They serve everything on these metal trays that could seem cafeteria-ish but in fact they look rather vintage and I definitely liked them as they went with the whole mod-country-hip-Martha-Stewart thing motif. But so how did it taste?

Dude, it rocked. Seriously. Tasty, fresh, clean tasting. And the aioli that came with the chicken wasn't overpowering. I tried Susannah's Turkey BLT as a salad -- similar to a cobb without the egg - and it was really good. The bacon that came with it was yum-yum-yummerson and the avocado was fresh and plentiful. They had some other things on the menu I look forward to trying. The OMG Lamb Sandwich which I read about on Yelp has me curious. So when I go back, I promise to try something different. And I will go back because...

There's dessert. I don't eat dessert in the day, which if you keep reading this blog you will find out is a lie. I try not to eat dessert during the day. But the woman who is co-owner, Jennifer, probably could tell I love dessert and I love cake and I saw they had Coconut Cake for a special. So without even asking us if we wanted it or waiting for an answer, she gave us two mini-slices of cake:

This is when things got serious. This is when the real stuff went down. One was a chocolate mousse, the other the beloved coconut cake. Both were moist, delicious, really pretty sublime. I felt completely fulfilled at this point and like I had no need for anything else. Except I guess she liked us so she gave us a slice of Carrot Cake and a little something she likes to call "Pistachio Cake." 

When I was growing up my Mom used to make Green Cake. It was only once a year, when my parents would throw their annual New Year's Day Party. Picture a party in the suburbs with all the dressed up parents from "Ice Storm" but with absolutely no sexual tension. That was this party. Anyway, that Green Cake was by far my most favorite dessert on the planet.

That's the Green Cake on the Left
We tried serving it at our wedding but was unsuccessful in our search for anyone who made it. Here, my friends, here you can find Pistachio Cake aka Green Cake and it will make you feel as if you died and went to heaven. Absolute Heaven. [Vodka Name Pitch].

The whole experience was delightful. I certainly will keep it in mind for when I'm sort of pal-ing around this fun little stretch. Because if like me, you want a little high-end tastiness in the middle of the day, Hillhurst now has it. Or has had it for 2 years but well, you understand. I seriously had NO IDEA.

Community is open Tues-Sun for lunch & dinner. 2044 Hillhurst Ave., LA, CA 90037. Metered parking in front of the restaurant. Free street parking on Ambrose and Commonwealth. 

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