New Los Angeles Restaurant Makes Childhood Sandwich Dreams Come True

Viva la PB&J at PBJ.LA

By Ethan L. Johns
August 11, 2017

Published on August 11th, 2017

Oh, to be young again. To sit down in the school cafeteria, rip open that brown paper bag and find a wrapped peanut butter and jelly sandwich, its crusts oh-so-lovingly cut off by Mom or Dad. Somewhere along the line, we had to start doing the hard work ourselves, toiling, knife in hand, as we slathered the nutty spread on one side and the sweet jam on the other. Paradise lost—forever?
As it turns out, Adam Fleischman and the team behind the Umami Restaurant Group have been plotting to bring paradise back. With PBJ.LA, their new 12-seat food stall in LA’s Grand Central Market, the humble PB&J is getting a modern foodie makeover. Critics have drawn parallels to the mass-produced Smucker’s “Uncrustables”—a comparison which, on the surface, seems warranted. To the contrary, says Fleischman, “ours are organic and varied to the max. And fresh and artisanal of course.”
Some might find these crustless sandwich pockets to be an insufferably hip invention. Perhaps their hesitation is warranted; with a selection of homemade nut butters including peanut, pine nut, cashew or pecan, and sweet spreads ranging from the traditional to the wine-infused, these sandwiches seem to be a far cry from the unpretentious childhood lunches of yore. But if the “Indian” ($7.50 for curried cashew butter, spicy mango chutney, arugula, and sliced daikon radish) or the “Italian” ($8.50 for toasted pine nut butter with sage, basil cherry tomato jam, arugula, extra-virgin olive oil, and balsamic) don’t sound tempting, they can always just stick with the classic “Old School” ($5). What is old is new again.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns