The Republic of Laughter Cafe opened this morning on Melrose, serving new seasonal menus conceptualized by Govind Armstrong and coffee by Intelligentsia in the former home of Armstrong’s 8 Oz. Burger and Table 8. The dreadlocks chef has not vacated his position at Baldwin Hills’ Post & Beam, as inferred by one local source, but he does hold the title of executive chef here, with Jacob Wildman, who worked at Table 8 locally, 8 Oz. Burger Bar in Miami, and most recently as sous chef at Tar & Roses, executing the menus as his chef de cuisine.
If you thought Cafe Gratitude was on some wacky shit, welcome to a restaurant that’s not afraid to use tween internet speak as its acronym, something that’s even harder to digest when we learn there’s no booze in the house (already this warren of positivity has made us sad).
In a press release, ROFL is said to be inspired “by wisdom from the likes of Tony Robbins,” plus the founder of laughter yoga, Madan Kataria, and water wizard Masaru Emoto, with the belief that positive words can physically transform bodies and emotions. The staff does look pretty shiny and happy and with all of this in consideration, the food is fittingly described as “Californian.”
The Melrose cafe, which previously opened a location in not-so-touchy-feely Moscow, carries a menu with conscious, locally-sourced dishes bearing funny inscriptions, much like the plates and walls themselves (“Laughter. Joy, Cappucino.”)
The restaurant, which has white marble counter-tops and an indoor/outdoor patio, offers hand-stretched pizzas from a dedicated pizza chef, breakfast with a variety of Liege waffles, salads topped with tuna and chicken, and dishes like moules frites with saffron, basil grown on someone’s roof, and preserved lemon aioli, plus beer-brined chicken, soft-shell crab, and a pork loin sauteed with bacon, as well as the chef’s twelve-hour braised short rib pressed grilled cheese made famous on Oprah.
And if anyone has been hankering for the return of 8 Oz., there are also burgers and sandwiches, as well as changing vegetable plates like roasted baby beets and corn on the cob slicked with sumac. The price point for this West Coast translation of a European bistro appears to be in between $3 to $5 for veggies, $6-$12 for small plates, and $10 to $17 for sandwiches and entrees.
Opened by droogs Alex Vasilkin and Peter Silkin, the founders promise “a new concept in dining that exists in an optimistic realm of consciousness,” which we guess we should just embrace and be happy about, as it clearly beats any place opening as “a slimy gully of depravity and sadistic barbarism.”
We’re always excited to find more cooking from Govind Armstrong and his team and maybe—just maybe—this sanguine Utopia on Melrose can buck up our bad attitude and bring back that youthful glow from whichever bottle it may have long ago drowned in.
Republic of Laughter Cafe, open daily 7:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. at 7661 Melrose Ave. West Hollywood. 323-951-1536.