A friend recently mentioned that I seem to be doing a lot more baking than braking on this blog. Tis all too true – I have been dealing with a recurring health issue for lo these past three months. (Dear reader, let me just say that if your eye doctor offers you the optional retinal exam for an extra fee, get it.) So I haven’t been getting out much. But I recently had the opportunity to visit the Studio City outpost of Joan’s on Third.
Angeleno’s, you no doubt know Joan’s 3rd Street location, for a long time, its only location. Parking was miserable but everything on offer was so delicious and the space so delightful, it was worth circling the block 10 or 15 times. For those who don’t know, Joan’s on Third is sort of an upscale deli plus gourmet market. I first discovered it about, gosh, 17 years ago? I was looking for Israeli couscous for a special dinner date. My relationship with Joan’s has far outlasted that with said date!
Joan’s had me at black-and-white tiled floor. That first trip I found the couscous plus a ham-and-brie on baguette that is still my favorite. Over the years I’d visit every so often, for that sandwich or to order boxed picnics for the Hollywood Bowl, that sort of thing. And then I moved away.
And then I moved back. And was very happy to learn that Joan’s had opened a new location, larger than the original and less than a mile from my house. It was on! Just as soon as I could get there.
Joan’s on Third, Studio City, is in a lovely spot on Ventura Place, high ceilinged and airy. There’s the same divine black-and-white tiled floor. A well curated selection of cookbooks and various gourmet items line one wall. I found myself looking at artisanal chocolates with interest and a sudden longing to be back in Bruges where I bought chocolate from just about every shop I came across. I don’t do that at home. But I may start.
I purchased my standard order: Apricot Glazed Ham and Brie on baguette, and a Dream Bar (more on that later). I also ordered my version of a “tasting”: A chocolate cupcake with about three inches of chocolate covered marshmallow on top, a slice of chocolate roulade, and a slice of Crown Cake.
First, the Dream Bar, which didn’t last long enough to photograph. It’s sort of a brownie base with toasted marshmallowy stuff browned on top. There may be more in it, but I don’t really care. It’s marvelous and always has been.
Chocolate Roulade: What I love most about this is that Chocolate Roulade is something we all often want but can’t often find – it’s a regular item at Joan’s. While there’s nothing new in the preparation, it’s very good, tender and not too sweet. The cocoa showered over the outside does make it a touch messy. (At home, I tapped most of it off into the sink.)
Crown Cake: My sister-in-law is a fantastic baker. She’s renowned in the family for her Strawberry Shortcake which is a soft-as-velvet white layer cake with crushed strawberries and cream between the layers, and a whipped cream frosting. I don’t care for the traditional biscuit version, but I could eat my SIL’s all day long. Joan’s Crown Cake is redolent of home: Light white cake with a delicate whipped cream filling and frosting. Very subtle strawberry infusion. I really loved this. It lets you have party cake “just because.” It, too, is a staple menu item.
Marshmallow Cupcake: Joan’s is well known for its cupcakes, which are exceptional: Not too big, just the right amount of frosting, and not overly sweet. Except for this marshmallow topped version. New Yorkers, picture a Carvel chocolate bonnet on top of a chocolate cupcake. That’s the aesthetic. I cut it down the middle – that’s alotta marshmallow! There was no practical way to have cake and topping together so I tasted them separately. The marshmallow was just too much. The cupcake, though, was as good as ever. Moist, chocolaty and delish. In this instance, more is not more. Order any other version of a Joan’s cupcake. You’ll be so happy.
Overall, I’m delighted Joan’s on Third has moved into the neighborhood. As with the original location, it’s popular and super crowded. Take advantage of the takeaway aspect and enjoy a French-style picnic anywhere.
Joan’s on Third, 12059 Ventura Place, Studio City, CA 91604; www.joansonthird.com