It’s been a banner year for Valerie Gordon and Stan Weightman Jr., the husband and wife team behind Valerie Confections. The dynamic duo, who first introduced L.A. to their outrageously good toffee, jams, and petit fours in 2004 with their storefront in Silver Lake, have expanded to Downtown’s Grand Central Market and most recently, to Echo Park.
Valerie GCM opened in late May with weekday breakfast and lunch service, and introduced weekend brunch a few weeks later.
Whereas the Silver Lake shop is squarely focused on sweets, with the occasional savory hand pie available on weekends, Valerie GCM offers an updated take on the classic lunch counter slash coffee shop experience, fitting of its vintage environs.
On the two occasions that The Astronomer and I visited Valerie’s, the counter was humming but not bustling, which made finding a seat a breeze and service very much on point.
Continue reading ‘Valerie Grand Central Market – Los Angeles (Downtown)’
Inventive sweets that aren’t too sugary are what it’s all about at this Downtown bakeshop. The lovely lady behind the operation is Sharlena Fong, a one-time New York City consultant who left the corporate world to pursue her true passion: desserts.
After refining her palate and techniques at Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, and Bouchon Bakery in New York City and at Nickel Diner in Los Angeles, she teamed up with Dennis Hunter and James Gonzales to open Semi Sweet Bakery.
My first visit to the bakery coincided with an early morning photo shoot. I’d been snapping away since the wee hours and wanted nothing more than to be comforted and re-energized with a suite of sweets.
Quite predictably, I zeroed in on the doughnuts first. Semi Sweet’s cake doughnuts are baked rather than fried, and the results were damn good. The “Strawberry Shortcake” had a delicate crumb and terrific texture; I didn’t miss the deep-fried oil bath one bit. Fonuts: take note.
Continue reading ‘Semi Sweet Bakery – Los Angeles (Downtown)’
There was much to love about our accommodations in Seattle, the Mayflower Park Hotel, but the amenity I relished most was its proximity to Dahlia Bakery. I appreciate graceful service, plush beds, and luxurious bathrooms as much as the next out-of-towner, but my passion for amazing baked goods trumps all!
I’ve dined at a handful of Chef Tom Douglas’ restaurants over the years—Dahlia Lounge, Serious Pie, and Seatown—but this was my first visit to the hearth of the operation: Dahlia Bakery.
While the lunchtime menu consisting of salads, soups, and sandwiches sounded quite lovely, I was particularly drawn to the breakfast offerings that are served until 10 AM on Mondays through Fridays and until 2 PM on weekends. Breakfast sandwiches and fried-to-order doughnuts? Yes, please.
I came into the bakery with a solid game plan, but couldn’t resist one impulse buy: the Creamsicle Whoopie Pie ($3). What can I say? I get weak around glittery sprinkles. This unplanned purchase proved to be a great one—the luscious cream center tasted orangey to the core, while the cakey cookies were definitely zesty.
Continue reading ‘Dahlia Bakery – Seattle’
Chefs Quinn and Karen Hatfield can do no wrong in my book. Their restaurant Hatfield’s in Hollywood is one of the loveliest spots in town, serving desserts that dazzle and a Croque Madame worthy of being my deathbed meal.
The two Hatfields debuted The Sycamore Kitchen, a fast-casual bakery and sandwich concept, last summer, and I’ve been eager to check it out ever since.
The Astronomer and I made our way to The Sycamore Kitchen late one Saturday afternoon. The daily special, a Vietnamese steak salad, was unfortunately sold out at this hour, as were the famous Salted Caramel Pecan Babka Rolls, but most everything else was still available.
We placed our order at the counter, grabbed a seat nearby, and awaited our spread.
Continue reading ‘The Sycamore Kitchen – Los Angeles’