Needing a respite from the August & wildfire-induced heat and haziness (not to mention a recovery from crazy run-and-eat-and-repeat "real food marathon" the day before,) I took myself to Silver Lake, where I enjoyed a brunch, a brief hike and a food-paired beer tasting.
Even in the slightly smoky-ashy haze, the patio would be pleasant for brunching -- but given my hike I opted for the cooler interior instead. Not sure if exec. chef Gloria Felix recognized me from a previous media dinner, but she was really pleasant greeting me while chilling at the bar.
Feeling more sweet than savory (big surprise, huh?) and generally digging any brunch menu that offers ricotta pancakes, I ordered that with a side of seasonal fruit ($10) -- and I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality and quantity of food given. These were simply superb, griddled to an ever-so-thin layer of crispiness on the outside while being fluffy-tender within. The trio of pancakes were delicious enough to eat with just the whippy-tart lemon creme fraiche and blueberry sauce toppings, but even better with a little dip of the accompanying maple syrup.
And having been used to fruit sides of just melons, pineapples and grapes, I was also shocked to be served a bowl bursting with mixed berries and melons. Fresh, ripe and naturally sweet (unlike some fruit plates where you question whether it's been splashed or drenched in simple syrup before serving.)
Also refreshing was their brunch cocktail, a watermelon-apricot soju mist ($9), with the fruits freshly smashed and shaken to order with soju and a sierra mist and served in a pint glass. A bit on the girly side with the soda's sweetness, but a refreshing change from the usual mimosa and bellini, and I always love a drink concocted with fresh fruits. Even better that I get such a hearty helping!
Following the delightful brunch (and a Zachary Quinto sighting, even though I am not one to get starstruck), I ordered a iced coffee to go from LA Mill to help fuel my one-mile hike back to my car, where I rested a little and caught up on my Sunday LA Times reading before the Silver Lake Wine $20/person Sunday tasting with Heirloom LA.
This was actually their one week of the year where they do a beer tasting instead, and given the intense heat, definitely no complaints here about tasting some cold fizzy brews. And SLW being SLW (or shall I say SLB?) their picks for today are eccentrically delectable, from the lively, light and citrusy Foret Saison ale to the peachy, spicy Thai Basil-infused Bruery Trade Winds Tripel (one of my faves from Craft Beer Fest) and the rich, chocolatey Allagash Black stout.
Of course, there's the great eats from the two person catering powerhouse of Heirloom LA a.k.a. Matthew Poley and Tara Maxey (the latter also contributes the great "Market Driven" columns to FoodGPS, highlighting in-season produce, how to pick them and what to use them for.)
The fantastic dishes that they paired with the beers included a sweet-and-spicy arugula salad with sweet potatoes, shaved fennel, feta cheese, mushrooms cooked in sage brown butter and sriracha, a spinach-artichoke-ricotta agnolotti (pictured above) in more sage brown butter with their "heirloom stock" and a topping of stewed tomatoes, a beer mac 'n cheese lasagna with cole slaw and side of incredibly tender freshly-carved and sauteed corned beef, and a chocolate brioche bread pudding with a chocolate creme fraiche sauce and a blowtorch-toasted marshmallow topping.
The bites were tasty, and actually filling enough to be a meal. I did wish I planned the day a little better (or at least brought an ice chest along!) since Heirloom LA were selling their notable lasagna cupcakes and SLW were offering the reasonably priced tasted beers with an additional 10% discount. But alas, I had to be on the road for another couple of hours and I'm pretty sure both those things won't fare well sweating away in my car in the afternoon.
But a brunch and lunner (with drinks) for approx. $40 in Silver Lake definitely made for a delightful weekend day -- next time, on a cooler day, I may not even mind doing a whole 2.2 mile loop around the beautiful Silver Lake reservoir and explore (and eat) around the neighborhood a little bit more.
Additional photos from my day on the flickr here.
1700 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026-1222
Silver Lake Wine
2395 Glendale Blvd.
LA, CA 90039