Fiona Bakery was a cute little cafe in West Hollywood serving up seasonal dishes and baked goods that truly allow California’s bounty to shine. I say was, because unfortunately I just got word that they closed their doors for good this past Sunday! Such sad news, to be honest. But with crazy high rent costs and never-ending competition, the restaurant industry is a super difficult place to find success. Ever since I first spotted their sesame butter toast on Instagram, I knew I had to check it out. So when I stopped by for lunch with a good friend recently, the aforementioned bread was obviously ordered. I’m pretty much obsessed with anything involving sesame or tahini, and this did not disappoint. I loved the sweet and savory vibes going on- the sea salt honey was the perfect complement to the creamy sesame butters and chewy, yet fluffy brioche! After ogling over the beautifully impressive pastry case (and vowing to return to try more items soon), we decided to balance things out with a couple of their fresh salads. I loved the Vietnamese-meets-Cali-influenced menu- both the shredded cabbage & chicken salad and little gem salad were bright and flavorful. The menu also featured rice noodle salads and savory sweet potato pancakes- not to mention classic banh mi sandwiches that my husband absolutely adores! Those cookies stacked high in the pastry case (and the carrot cake!) continue to call my name to this day as well. Although I’m super bummed Fiona has since closed its doors, I remain hopeful the team will open another spot soon!
My love for casual, but consistently tasty breakfast and lunch spots is no secret. When we started spending more time in Los Angeles, one of my top priorities was to find a few neighborhood spots at which we could become regulars. These places need to be warm and inviting with a nice atmosphere, the food not too fussy, brew great coffee, and even better if they bake delicious pastries in house. I’d heard several people rave about Go Gem ‘Em Tiger, and once my husband and I stopped by one morning, we realized why. After scouring the menu and narrowing down our breakfast choices (no easy feat!), we snagged a table outside in the sun and sipped our coffees (they roast and sell their own beans!). I highly recommend getting yours made with their housemade almond macadamia milk! Yum! You’ll find some classics on the menu, like homemade granola and a breakfast sandwich, but we went for some of GGET’s more unique offerings. My husband loves a hash, and was all about his Spanish chorizo hash with eggs, potato, and aioli (he only wished it was bigger!). I went for the chickpea frittata, served with seasonal veggies and pickled beets! The only thing missing was hot sauce. We also shared a side of the roasted cauliflower salad, which was served cold and visible in their ready-made section, among many other tasty looking sides. Go Get ‘Em Tiger is the perfect spot for an easy, but enjoyable breakfast or lunch with friends, but also works for a quick coffee and pastry to go. I love getting to sit outside, catching the breeze and soaking up the sun. Lucky for me, they recently opened another location in my new neighborhood- I cannot wait to stop by soon!
Okay, y'all- I'm going to go out on a limb and say I have a new favorite restaurant in Brooklyn. Golda Kitchen is an all-day New American café with the perfect touch of Middle Eastern flavors that serves some seriously tasty breakfast and lunch fare. Local, seasonal ingredients truly shine here, but one of major highlights for me is the beautiful case of freshly baked pastries! There are tons on offer each day, and the flavor combinations are equally unique and delicious. I wanted to try one of each on my recent visit, but managed to narrow it down to a pumpkin olive oil cake with labne frosting and a plum-soaked brioche with pistachios. Glory, were they scrumptious! Our savory dishes didn't disappoint either, and I loved my charred broccoli rabe plate with sweet potato, figs & soft-boiled egg. The sandwiches are pretty impressive as well, as you can see from the photos below. Talk about a mouthful!
Click through the photos to read more about our meal, as I honestly cannot say enough good things about Golda. Really dying to try some of their other goodies as well- how good does hot chocolate with malted tahini marshmallows sound?! Or romanesco & kale moussaka with egg & flax-pinenut streusel?? Or finally, how about persimmon & gingerbread cake with rye flour, whey caramel & labne?! I'm literally obsessed with all these flavor combinations, and cannot wait to go back to Golda again soon!
For a a quick and easy, but healthy and flavorful meal, I love stopping by Maman. It's basically the bakery and cafe of my dreams, featuring high quality, locally-sourced ingredients with a always evolving and inspired menu. Pop in for coffee (how cute are their cups?!) and freshly baked breads and pastries, or take a seat and enjoy housemade quiches, seasonal salads, and hearty sandwiches. I'm a huge fan of their unique and flavorful baked goods, including the nutella babka loaf, spiced carrot cake, white chocolate blueberry & lavender loaf, chunky monkey brioche, and the signature 'famous' nutty chocolate chip cookie.
One of my favorite things ever is Maman's cookie dough ice cream sandwich! It uses two slabs of melt-in-your-mouth cookie dough instead of baked cookies, wrapped around tasty McConnell's ice cream. Heaven! I recently stopped in for their new brunch service at the Brooklyn location, and both the waffle-iron hashbrowns (with smoked salmon, avocado & egg) and the roasted cauliflower salad (with kale, dates & egg) were super flavorful and satisfying. I'm looking forward to trying a matcha white hot chocolate this winter!
Meyer's Bageri is a cute little Danish bakery in Williamsburg that turns out some truly delectable baked goods. Danish culinary entrepreneur Claus Meyer is behind it, along with new restaurant Agern and Great Northern Food Hall in Grand Central Terminal. Although the bakery started as just a pop-up, their popularity soon became clear, and Meyer's returned as a full-time brick and mortar a few months later. They offer several traditional Danish pastries like kanelsnurre (cinnamon swirl buns), spandauer (round puff pastries with fillings), and tebirkes (poppy seed danishes), and also bake hearty loaves of bread daily. Ølandbrød, a native speciality made from heirloom whole wheat flour which they will mill in house, is a definite must-try.
I'm a huge cinnamon-lover, so my order always involves kanelsnurre. The morning buns, marbled with rye and topped with sunflower seeds, are chewy and delicious as well, and even better topped with avocado or hummus. On another trip I got to try the beet & cassis muffin and raspberry pop tart. These creative takes on classics blew me away- the muffin was slightly earthy and not too sweet, with a moist crumb and crunchy streusel topping, while the pop tart had a perfectly flaky crust. I'm excited to return soon to devour the new, seasonal danish: pumpkin spice spandauer with brown butter glaze and pepita brittle! Yum!
Gjusta has been on my must-visit list for a while. It's owned by the same team as Gjelina, the ridiculously popular and delicious veggie-focused, Mediterranean-inspired spot in Venice, so you know it's got to be top notch. Their beautiful pastries, pizzas & veggies frequently pop up on my Instagram feed, and never fail to make my mouth water. On a recent trip to LA, I was staying in Venice and decided to take myself out to dinner and finally cross it off my list! The choices are endless, and everything is tantalizingly displayed in front of you (although you can order off a menu as well), making it tricky to narrow it down. After talking to an employee behind the counter, getting his input and suggestions, I decided on a nice mix of healthy (and not) delights. First, a slice of pizza smothered in braised greens and fresh mozzarella, was thin with a nicely charred (but doughy!) crust and a great proportion of toppings. I also got a combo plate of the day's fresh salad offerings- marinated fennel and grilled broccolini- both super well-seasoned. The star of the show for me is always dessert, and I had been dying to try their baklava croissant. I know- baklava fillings (think nuts & honey) all rolled up in a perfectly flaky croissant! Sadly, and not surprisingly, they were sold out of this popular item, but I ended up with something equally satisfying. The miso date cookie was super unique and I adored the sweet & salty flavors it boasted! I definitely plan to return to Gjusta on my next trip to LA, and I can't wait to check out what new, seasonal offerings that have available. Hopefully I'll have better luck snagging the famed baklava croissant then as well!