Ginger Molasses Loaf
Blood Orange Kouign Amann
Famed Ricotta Toast – Burnt Brioche, House Straus Milk Ricotta, Raspberry-Vanilla Jam
Brown Rice Porridge – Traditional Kokuho Rose Brown Rice Porridge, Housemade Almond Milk, Toasted Hazelnuts, Strawberry Jam
Crispy Rice Salad with ‘The Works’ – Crispy Kokuho Rose Brown Rice Salad, Lemongrass, Mint, Cilantro, Ginger, Fried Egg, Sausage
Warm Malva Cake
Last visited in March of 2013, prices lower, the menu as well as the floorplan approximately half and Chef Jessica Koslow’s name virtually unknown, it should go without saying that much has changed at Silver Lake’s Sqirl over the four years intervening, her enormously-popular restaurant built on burnt Bread topped in Ricotta and Jam now embodying everything that is “California Cuisine” at the moment with a menu that is simple, light, fresh and pristine.
Originally launched as a simple project focused on healthy, organic ingredients served honestly, Chef Koslow’s Award-Winning cookbook “Everything I Want to Eat” beautifully expressing the restaurant’s idea of providing the sort of food one can eat every day without growing bored, jaded or obese, it was just minutes past the Sqirl’s 8:00am Friday opening that two diners approached a brief line not-infrequently found to be stretching around the block on weekends or during peak hours, patrons ranging from two-year olds to septuagenarians, several races also accounted for though there is no doubt that middle-to-upper class Caucasians prone to reading poetry or their own journal in public dominate the scene.
Now featuring both an early and afternoon menu scrawled across chalkboards, the website updated daily to detail specials and seasonally to highlight new ideas, it is after a slow march through the line that patrons are brought face-to-face with twenty-somethings manning a register flanked by several unique pastries that require a bit of quick decision making, each order recited back before customers are handed a marker bearing fruit, the packed-space and outdoor patio often seeing runners circle the room twice before locating diners as items are sent out individually as the kitchen staff deems them ready.
Having only previously tasted a slice of Toast and Jam plus Coffee from Portland’s Heart Roasters, this visit a far more encompassing experience that should serve as a lesson to Chefs everywhere that given the right mindset, location and market no idea is too simple to become a sensation, breakfast at Sqirl began with a thick slice of Ginger Molasses Loaf that at first comes across almost *too* intense before dissipating into a subtle burn with a fruity finish, the Blood Orange Kouign Amann another abrupt flavor with a mild bitterness amidst all the Butter and an overall flavor that favors ‘fresh’ over ‘sweet.’
Continuing to show a great eye for balance with the “Famed Ricotta Toast,” a light bit of char on the Brioche playing brilliantly off flakes of Sea Salt, Creamy Cheese and Raspberry-Vanilla Jam, it was actually by accident that the “Brown Rice Porridge” was ordered instead of the “Long Cooked Chicken Rice Porridge,” the shallow bowl filled with soft organic Grains not dissimilar to traditional Oatmeal in terms of texture with Housemade Almond Milk, Toasted Hazelnuts and Jam that seemed to be Strawberry with a few sliced sections of whole Vanilla Beans.
Attempting to decide between the Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl or Crispy Rice Salad, the former offered even during the restaurant’s earliest days while the latter has been said by many to be Koslow’s best dish, it was with French Toast and a Buckwheat Pancake left to the future that a bowl of crispy Kokuho Brown Rice tinged in Mint, acid and Ginger arrived with chopped Sausage and a Sunny-side Egg, the flavors at first seemingly a mish-mash but then coming together in harmony to present the sort of dish one really cannot help but keep eating, a re-heated Malva Cake arriving with just a few bites left not dissimilar to Sticky Toffee Pudding with dark-brown outside flavored by Stone Fruit wrapped around a nearly-molten Custard center.