cheesy potato birthday

on thursday night, boba, boba boyfriend, and v joined me for a mini celebration (again) of my birthday. i've always wanted to try grilled cheese night at campanile, and boba generously offered, "it's your birthday...anything you want!" alrighty then, cheese + carbs! my faaaay-vorite.

campanile is lovely. its regular dinner menu is a bit too rich for my blood (and i'm not talking about the food here), but the atmosphere and service are very nice. we were seated in the front courtyard-turned-interior half of the restaurant, and the blazing A/C with vent right overhead added to outdoor effect. really, though, the high ceiling, moroccan-shaped/mediterranean-tiled fountain, and combination of plaster, brick, and wicker chairs give the al fresco effect with the comfort of a climate-controlled interior. i hear the back area is cozier, more romantic, and less loud but wouldn't know from firsthand experience.

it turns out boba boyfriend is also a stinky cheese fan. stinky cheese fans get a lot of extra points with me. too bad the cheese plates aren't really a deal, even if you get a package deal of three.
[smart v pointed this out.]

so instead, we drooled through the window against which we were seated at la brea bakery's cheese counter.

another view through the window.

oh wait, scroll back up to the photo of the cheese page. i love the raw leather menus and their fabric lining. the leather was buttery and warm in the hands and the fabric insides of the covers elegant, foreshadowing a warm, buttery, elegant meal perhaps?

alrighty, onto the food. i ordered some starter with "devil" in the name. they were figs wrapped in prosciutto and topped with chives and some sort of oil or reduction (can't remember exactly, and their online menu's outdated. i was trying to concentrate on enjoying the food and company rather than memorizing the menu as i was assuming it was online...bah). sweet/salty. crisp fruit/chewy meat. all ingredients fresh and excellent.

all of our sandwiches were served with a generous portion of greens tossed in a light vinaigrette, sea salt, and maybe a bit of freshly ground pepper. we were also given a basket of fries to share. the fries were perfectly crisp outside and soft inside despite their skinniness. this ketchup-hater couldn't resist dunking every fry in it. so far, i have only found one other place at which i must have ketchup. mcdonald's. i keed i keed (i never use ketchup with fast food fries. ranch, sweet 'n' sour, mustard, mayo, anything else please). it's bouchee's (freshly made in house). but then again i haven't needed ketchup at too many finer dining restaurants.
oh yeah, the night was about the sandwiches. we all forewent the classic grilled cheese and most popular croque monsieur and croque madame. i can get those elsewhere, even if excellent here. so none of our sandwiches were really grilled cheese but rather open-faced sandwiches, but whatever. they were still good.

v and i both ordered the fresh burrata mozzarella. ingredients are stacked below the photo in the order in which they were actually stacked.
purple basil
heirloom tomato
chickpea puree
grilled bread

it was hard to eat in a civilized manner as the bread is impossible to cut through with the provided butter knives. we both opted to eat it as if it were a giant crostini, picking it up as elegantly as possible, taking delicate nibbles. yeah right, i always look like a slob when eating. sigh. anyway, it was delicious, as tomato/mozzarella combinations almost always are to me. the chickpeas added a nice, earthy base and the fragrant, fresh purple basil a nice kick. the tomato was sweet, firm, and not mealy. yum. i could eat a good tomato like an apple any day.

boba had a sandwich with prawns, lettuce, and green goddess dressing (none of us knew what that was either). she said the prawns were yummy, and she cleared her plate. boba boyfriend gladly sucked the prawns' heads for her.
boba boyfriend is also a lamb fan. his sandwich had lamb, peppers, feta, and i forget what else. he seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.
OH YEAH! how could i forget?!? boba's sandwich also had bacon on it. and not just any bacon. smoky, packed with flavor, and freakin' thick bacon. see?

at the end, all plates were cleared, and we still had a little bit of room left for dessert. we asked our server for her recommendation despite the fact i had my eye on the brioche tart from the beginning, and she recommended 5 of 6 excluding the brioche tart. so i ordered the brioche tart. i know, contrary ingrate. whatever, recommending 5 of 6 isn't that helpful. anyway, my instinct was right. it was delicious. excellent brioche topped by a custardy sauce for most of it and left bare on the crust so it could crisp oh-so-perfectly, then topped with fresh berries and peaches, then sprinkled with caramelized almond slivers, and then topped with a creamy sauce (again, i forget what) and a berry coulis.

p.s. if you like peaches, please get your peach on NOW. it's that time of year, and the peaches were much yummier than the slightly underripe berries. you should have smelled them at frieda's and even at my sterile ralphs last week. fragrant enough to make me weak in the knees (i can hardly speak, i lose all control, and something taaaakes ooooover me. in a daze and it's so amazing...).

and finally, the lovely company. it was nice catching up on the past month, discussing the phenomenon of chinese people from china who drink their orange juice lukewarm (when boba boyfriend's aunt moved to the states, she would offer to microwave the juice for him to bring it to its normal-to-her temperature), indulging in non-dinner-table-appropriate conversation such as appendicitis and restaurants that recycle their bread and rice, and otherwise enjoying a summer work night out together.

they all generously picked up the tab and bestowed me with giftees.

gift card so i can protect my new white hot.
a pair of dots cupcakes.
(red velvet and dulce de leche. dulce de leche is really good.)
one of boba's famous hand-tied bows.
(this one is actually nowhere near as nice as they usually are due to a defective ribbon).

and a cute card. letterpress! cupcakes! so me!
boba also has a paper fetish and is quite good at picking out good cards.

a big thank you to boba, boba boyfriend, and v for making the drive, enjoying a fun meal with me, and for their generosity. hopefully we will see each other in a month for the last of the summer eleven* birthdays!

*boba, vase, and i were a rarely-separated trio in high school. boba's birthday is 6/11, mine is 7/11, and vase's is 8/11. vase was absent but should be back for the last eleven. :)


  1. I'm drooling over the food and tripping out over the 11 birthdays - that's pretty crazy!

  2. a little drool came out of my mouth with the photo of the la brea cheese counter. oh, how i love the cheese!

  3. Looks so great! I can't believe you are a ketchup hater. Me loves ketchup.

  4. I simply cannot appreciate the beauty of menus because I can't get over the fact that I don't know who was using it before it got to my table and we all know they don't clean menus in between uses.

    Ok, I'm crazy.

    But at least I like ketchup.

  5. I love this entire post. Except the ketchup thing. French fries, especially fast food fries, are simply the vehicle to get the ketchup into my mouth.

    I must go to grilled cheese night soon.

  6. mmm, i love grilled cheese night. but, i'm sad that you didn't opt for the original. with some grilled onions and mustard it is drool-worthy good! glad you liked your meal though. :)

  7. Happy belated birthday! I used to refuse to use ketchup.. but I'm starting to sneak it in again.

  8. I have been dreaming of grilled cheese night at Campanile's for, like, ever. I loved experiencing it vicariously through you!

    What a fun birthday dinner!!!

  9. I much prefer ranch with my fries over ketchup :) Grilled cheese...yum!

  10. Green Goddess dressing *squeal* It's so yummy! When I was at Fridas a few weeks ago the peach vendor told me to come back in
    a few weeks for the good stuff. Thanks for the reminder!

  11. dulce de leche cupcake at dot's?? oh my, i must go.

    ooh, i like green goddess dressing.

    funny, i don't usually dunk my fries in anything.

    what a fun celebration!

  12. What a great way to celebrate your birthday. Yay!


comments are tasty!