Oh Swingers! It’s funny that I am reviewing this one L.A staple, because for years I thought of it as mediocre at best if not lower.
Why? Simple: inconsistency in good service and just mediocre food. For years I came and tried a variety of different items from the menu; The Veggie Burger, The Jamaican-Jerk Chicken (pre-vegan days), the avocado-grilled cheese, the regular grilled cheese (I would eat anything during my high school years); I tried a little bit of everything time-after-time and was continuously disappointed and couldn’t justify the then cost (which admittedly as an adult, no longer seem that steep). After my last visit with a friend almost two years ago, when I was ravenous and he was tipsy-bordering-on-drunk, I swore off for good, because even this distressful situation couldn’t shake off the after -taste of bland food and subpar service.
Well, I stayed true to my word and didn’t return for almost two years until this past October. My first return was with a friend for her birthday post-drinking; I was sober, she was not; she ate nachos, I did not; she was unsatisfied, I was not. That was then and I was glad I stuck to my personal oath. Now, come Halloween.
We walked in after a late-night screening of “A Nightmare Before Christmas” at El Capitan (what better way to spend a sober Halloween right?), and walked in with one mission and one mission alone: dessert. We had already eaten a quantifiable amount of food at another decent establishment a few hours back and just wanted a sugary nightcap. I couldn’t object because A) I had never tried the desserts at Swingers before, B) Late-Night, C)Vegan Desserts; this trio of elements is hard to find in L.A on a Tuesday night for a vegan.
We sat and were promptly greeted by a waiter–a very nice one–so this was a good sign that at least the service had improved. We are given menus, drinks orders taken, and we look at our options. Vegan Chocolate Pancakes, vegan cheesecakes, vegan peanut butter chocolate shakes, vegan chocolate chip cookies, we were obviously limited on options…so we end up ordering the pancakes (because at times I do still get mad bouts of nostalgia from my Griddle Cafe days and I had not had pancakes since then; and also because I had tried Swingers’ vegan chocolate pancakes years back during a drunken escapade,) the chocolate and vanilla cheesecake (had previously heard that these are the closest I’ll ever get to reliving my diary cheesecakes days, so I had to be the judge of that), and nachos? Yea, we order vegan nachos despite all intentions of just doing dessert; despite my friend having been unsatisfied with these during our last visit, I hadn’t personally tried them to judge and would probably have a bite or two since dessert was the name of my game.
We also ordered a green juice. Yea, we got bougie on-top of it too.
I was rather shocked that considering that it was Halloween night, our food came out relatively quickly (granted, half the order was dessert and one bottled green juice); we quickly take out photographic close-ups and dig in as if our previous, recent meal had been wiped from existence. I was again shocked…it was good. Dare I say, it was actually great.
Desserts: The Vegan chocolate chip pancakes were chocolate, fluffy and had a good ratio of chocolate chips-pancake. I liked these a lot and would definitely order them again. The vegan butter and maple syrup that they’re paired with make for an excellent top-off and melt into the pancakes, allowing them to soak up both toppings and adds a worthy complimenting buttery-sweetness (more like sweet and savory).
The cheesecakes were–as advertised through word-of-mouth–as close as I’ve gotten to dairy-based desserts since going vegan; rich, creamy and not-overly sweet but sweet enough to satisfy my sweet-tooth; I liked the chocolate one over the vanilla, but this is a strictly-biased preference as I am a chocolate aficionado from birth. Both the chocolate and vanilla cheesecakes were on-point.
Nachos: This is where Swingers’ past reputation crept in; while the mixins (soyrizo, vegan cheese, black beans, guac, veggies) were all really, really savory and great on their own, the chips were no-bueno: burnt. We were served burnt chips, and I mean really, really, visibly burnt. While understandable because it was a busy night, what is not understandable is how after our waiter resubmitted the order the chips were again served burnt; and not just burnt, they were heavily-tinted black the second time around. How do the cooks manage to further burn the chips when specifically being told this was the initial prepping problem? Again, not at all perplexed as this lived up to my Swingers’ notions. Either way, we resolved to just accept the unchangeable and ate the burnt-to-a-crisp nachos, ever so annoyingly picking through the burnt shells.
Moral of the story? Go to swingers strictly for dessert; the vegan options are phenomenal so I would assume the same standard of all their desserts…yet again, that would also be indicative of consistency, a standard foreign to Swingers…so yea, go to Swingers of you are an an easygoing trooper immune to major connoisseur letdown.