REVIEW: EARL’S GOURMET GRUB

On a stretch of Venice populated by a gay bath house, a high school and a lot of stores you have no reason to stop in is this casual sandwich and salad stop featuring high end ingredients at reasonable prices.  With a small indoor seating area and a covered outdoor area in the back, this is a quick lunch stop for the area Dilberts who are sick of Subway (and on this day speak in bizarre, cultish language, but more on that later).

Mar Vista isn’t a food haven so Earl’s Gourmet Grub’s opening saw long lines and so-so service.  The food has continued to be delicious and the service has improved allowing it to flourish.  The Monster returns on this day terribly hungry.

The menu is concise but has enough variety to see most people satisfied.  Sandwiches top out at $9 while the burgers don’t go higher than $11.  Choices include such items as Heartichoke for veggie lovers with marinated artichoke, hearts of palm, pickled red onion, artichoke-jalapeno spread, chevre, arugula on pain de mie; the Who Dat Crab Po Boy with snow crab, melted parsley butter, Cajun aioli, romaine on a baguette; burgers like the Pig and Fig with crispy prosciutto di parma, verde capra blue cheese, fig hash, arugula and aioli.  Salads options include a nicoise, polenta and chopped salad amongst others with a high price of $12.

The Monster has a hard time deciding between the Crab Po Boy and the M*!#%@R Plucker!  Since the friendly staff says to go with the blue crab salad over the duck salad the chicken sandwich wins.  It’s got grilled chicken, sliced tomato, baby spinach and basil, aioli, gouda, and balsamic vinegar on a brioche bun.  It comes with a salad and cole slaw as well so The Monster’s ordering on this occasion may prove to be a tad redundant.

The Monster takes a seat outside on the shared covered patio (with the coffee shop next door) and the table beside him is one of the oddest collection of humans he has ever seen dining together.  At first he thinks it may be an AA meeting from Mars but then when they all start talking he’s more inclined to believe they are a business cult practicing Pagan pyramid schemes.  They speak in undecipherable syntax and most of what they say seems like half finished sentences.  If in fact this is a pyramid scheme from the looks of the members it is the least successful one in the history of the world. 

When the food arrives it looks wonderful but by this point figuring out who these people are and what their agenda is has become priority number one.  It’s like listening to Twin Peaks in a foreign language you not only don’t speak but have never even heard.  While devouring his sandwich (lovely), his cole slaw (good and tangy, not creamy) and his crab salad (tons of crab, a bit short on taste) he doesn’t even come close to figuring this group out nor does his eating companion.

It’s a strangely compelling soap opera that The Monster is glad he doesn’t solve.  Somehow the real answer probably is less interesting than the sordid versions he’s conjuring up in his head.

Why go?  Deprogramming didn’t work for you.

Monster rating: 4/5 Monsters

12226 Venice Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90066

(310) 313-1717

Earl's Gourmet Grub on Urbanspoon

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