By Jill Weinlein, 11/21/2012
It’s all about positive energy at the casual ROFL Café on Melrose. Walking into the restaurant you are surrounded with uplifting words running along the walls. “Love, Joy, Happiness and Laughter.” They are also etched on the drinking glasses, menu and servers aprons. In the kitchen, a large green painted sign above the grill states “Every Pizza I make is a Masterpiece.”
ROFL is a new creative concept by Chef Govind Armstrong specializing in local California cuisine. Armstrong started his culinary career working for Wolfgang Puck at the iconic Spago’s in West Hollywood.
Later, he became a co-owner and chef at Table 8 in Los Angeles and Miami. Then he opened 8 oz. Burger in Los Angeles and became an overnight sensation when Gayle King from the Oprah show flew 2,000 miles to try Armstrong’s grilled cheese and pulled short rib sandwich at his Melrose Ave. location. Armstrong transformed 8 oz. Burger into the new ROFL Café, which opened in July. Armstrong also is the Executive Chef at Post & Beam in Baldwin Hills.
ROFL stands for Republic of Laughter. The décor is light and bright with green, brown and pastel colors. A bowl of coffee beans sits in the middle of the each table with a little oil lamp in the center allowing the essence of coffee to waft around the room, offering pleasing aromas.
“The idea for ROFL was inspired by the findings of Japanese author and entrepreneur, Masaru Emoto,” shared Sergey D., one of the ROFL managers. “In his book, ‘Hidden Messages in Water,’ Emoto claims that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water.” High quality water, when frozen, produces beautiful crystals, he said. Emoto believes positive changes to water crystals can be achieved through prayer, music, or by attaching written words.
The restaurant has a Natura ultra violet water filtration system. A glass bottle arrived on our table filled to the top with premium water. I asked Sergey D. if I talked to the glass of water nicely, would it taste even better? With a straight face, he said “Yes, of course.”
ROFL Café is filled with positive energy, because they only hire optimistic personalities, he said. “Of the 1,000 applicants who applied to work at ROFL, we hired the best,” Sergey D. said.
Our server, Liz, delivered each dish with a pleasing and upbeat demeanor. She applied to the restaurant before it opened. “I was in a group interview with 30 people. Luckily, I was the only one in my group hired,” she said. She enjoys working and loves her job.
Looking over the menu, we noticed some new seasonal items for fall. The yellow split pea soup caught my eye with a dollop of yogurt, green peas and bacon. The heavenly tasting soup was the perfect warm-up on a chilly day.
I really enjoyed the little gem salad with grilled baby romaine lettuce. It was a nice touch to the salad filled with tomatoes, cut hard-boiled egg, bacon and avocado dressed in a smooth blue cheese dressing. Salads can be ordered by the half or whole size.
The butternut squash pizza with apple purée, goat cheese, sage and strips of bacon was good, and at the high end of their Neopolitan pizza menu. There are seven other pizzas on the menu priced from $12 to $17.
Armstrong, known for his burgers, also offers a housemade veggie patty for $1 extra. Of course, the menu has Gayle King’s favorite short rib grilled cheese with onion marmalade. Burgers and sandwiches are priced from $11 to $14 and include local greens, hand cut-fries or a cup of soup.
The pan-roasted salmon on a bed of faro with roasted brussel sprouts, walnut pesto and marinated mushrooms was quite tasty.
For dessert, we tried their signature ROFL waffle with chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries. I drank a cup of white coconut cream tea with my waffle. The tea was so satisfying, I put my fork down and enjoyed the rest of my hot drink.
When they obtain their beer and wine license, they may draw a larger evening crowd. During the day, they serve a simple breakfast and hearty lunch. Weekend brunch has been their biggest draw, with locals in the neighborhood happy to wait for chicken and waffles, Swedish baked pancakes or a country quiche. Each dish pairs nicely with a cup of Intelligentsia coffee or a selection from their exotic Art of Tea collection.
Try ROFL Cafe – the service is definitely friendly, and perhaps you’ll enjoy a few laughs along with some delicious cuisine. $$
Open for breakfast 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Lunch and dinner until 9 p.m. Weekend brunch begins at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 7661 Melrose Ave. (323)951-1536.