Grilled cheese is the ultimate comfort food, and though its heyday as a food-truck food trend may have come and gone, the simple and indulgent treat is back in fashion in April (aka National Grilled Cheese Month). No L.A. restaurant takes this celebration more seriously than Century City’s Clementine. The neighborhood café has been marking the annual meltdown for the past 14 years with a themed menu of grilled-cheese sandwiches.
Last year, the theme was “Curds Against Humanity,” inspired by the subversive card game — complete with a cheese-themed deck that customers could play as they ate. Prior themes included “Melt the Vote,” with its ballotlike menu; “Los Angeles,” which paid homage to L.A. landmarks with a menu comprised of iconic postcard images that turned spots such as the Hollywood Bowl and the Capitol Records building into oozing grilled cheese sandwiches; and even a film fest-themed menu called “Cheesedance,” which envisioned each sandwich as a movie.
This year's theme, which does not have a name, focuses on local makers of bread and cheese, which makes it a little more tame but maybe a little more delicious.
“I feel like there is a bread renaissance in L.A. right now, so this year we’re celebrating the community of local bakers and makers,” Clementine owner Annie Miler says. “We started with artisanal bread and designed the sandwiches around them.”
Among the options available through April, the “Violet Beauregarde” features a subtly sweet organic blueberry bread by Larder Baking Co. sandwiching a creamy florette (French goats milk cheese) and a local small-batch lemon marmalade from M. Greenwood. “Borscht on a Raft” is made with pickled beets and braised beef on Red Fife bread from Roan Mills, whose baked goods can be found at both the Santa Monica and Hollywood farmers markets. There are even options for vegans (with cashew cheese), traditionalists (on country white bread) and kids (the buttery "Parker House Pull-Apart”).
Many of the sandwiches include breads from La Brea Bakery, where Miler started her culinary career. She also worked at Campanile before opening Clementine, which has a second location in Beverly Hills.
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“It might sound cheesy [heh], but for me, it was always something made with love, whether it be my mom or my grandma," Miller says. "We’re celebrating that and the ingredients that go into it.”
Clementine, 1751 Ensley Ave., Century City; (310) 552-1080. http://clementineonline.com