Coffee + Food: Cafe Eats With a Side of Etch-A-Sketch

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It’s Melrose Avenue. It’s a stones throw from Larchmont Boulevard. Café Gratitude, with its gratuitous celeb following, it’s right there. Babycakes, of east coast laud, just down the street. Takes serious chutzpah to open a café so modest, so unassuming. You’re not gluten free. Your menu doesn’t arrive with a side of meditation. No gimmick. No catch.  Don’t bother here, we’re just coffee. Plus some food. Walk on if you like.

We bet someone said that about those little hilltop towns in Italy once too.

Go on.

So while the cuisine addition to cafes seems to be the trend au currant, especially since that dastardly rule kicked in about displaying the calorie count (note to merchandisers: printing 630 calories in italics doesn’t make it any less appalling), those mini-meals shrink wrapped in plastic at best make us feel like we’re on a trans-Atlantic flight overpaying for really cold and slightly stale food. But this. This is something very different.

Alright. So what’s cookin’?

A roasted vegetable frittata. Quinoa Greek salad. And the carnivore come hither – roast beef, pumpkin, arugula, mozzarella, pesto, and heirloom tomato Panini. Homemade granolas, phenomenal fritters, seasonal specials and daily decadences. You came for coffee, they fed you like family. Because food here is philosophically simple: eating well is essential to a fulfilling life. Not an afterthought when the government made you list how calorically disturbing a muffin is.

Signature Kale Salad in an oversized coffee mug – hooked! My kid? Not so much with the kale.  

You could be eating truffled gold, but if your kids aren’t having it, you may as well be slurping yesterday’s Cheerios. So while you’re deliberating veggie breakfast sandwich vs. blueberry coffee cake, you can get their grilled cheese going. Raisin bread with Gruyere and quince. (Note: as validated by a 4yo, you CAN improve on a classic.) And leave the crayons at home. This place knows what’s up. Mini Etch-a-Sketch’s are waiting in a basket. Look at them go – like they’ve never laid hands on a toy before. Genius comes in red-framed packages. With little white knobs.

And while you go to town on your veggie sandwich (pumpkin, pesto, and fresh mozzarella oh MY), order a few extras. Because when you see your six-year-old digging into a roasted vegetable frittata, you just might double take, cartoon style. That’s her fork voluntarily digging into mushrooms, spinach, and yellow pepper. That’s her little sister, developing a newfound love of quince. But we won’t say a thing. Eat up girls. We’re not ruining this for anything.

We came, we ate, we loved. Stay for coffee or head down the block?

Don’t you dare. Owner Mel Cain brought her life-long love of coffee all they way to Melrose from the Land Down Under, teamed up with Angelean native Cyndi Finkle to join Coffee + Food forces. Flat white, dirty chai, single origin drip or French press. Gather ye coffee snobs. Gather ye kin. You’re about to be a hero.

Sounds delightful. But we’re not ready to caffeinate our children. Yet.  

Babyccino anyone? Oh yes they did. A frothy steamed milk with a dusting of cinnamon and we swear to you, you’re set for the afternoon. With their Etch-a-Sketch in one hand, cappuccino-in-training in the other, bring a magazine, bring a friend, you won’t know what to do with actual, factual, downtime in a café. Coffee + Food on Melrose. Far and away the best math you’ll ever eat.

5630 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, Ca

Does this sound like a foodie haven or what? Will you be taking your little gourmands or visiting this spot solo?

— Jolie Loeb