New Yorkers visiting LA, here's a tip. On your first couple days, don't worry about adjusting to the new time zone. Get to Sqirl early -- it opens at 6:30am for drinks and pastries during the week, and the kitchen heats up at 8am. No line, just morning light and the best breakfast in your recent memory. (Or in my case, maybe ever??)
I like breakfast/brunch as a social event, but as a meal, it's not my thing. Pancakes and waffles knock me out for the rest of the day. I love eggs, but they get boring easily. Benedict, omelette, with a side of bacon (even if it is maple-glazed, submerged in a Bloody Mary, thick cut from a heritage pig...) Meh. I'd rather have an interesting dinner plate.
But Sqirl! I will fully admit that I'm a sucker for avocado toasts and chicory lattes, handmade almond milks and jams. But even D who is wary of anything hyped and twee loved it. We went twice over four days.
Instead, it’s a kind of gentler version of dinner food, with little or no meat, but often with eggs and seasonings from the southern and eastern Mediterranean and much of Asia, and yet somehow, in the end, quite American. Nothing is bland or insipid, and much of the food is laced with a sharpness that comes from lemon juice and hot sauce and garlic and pickled things. For breakfast food, it’s downright revolutionary.
Yep. We're used to breakfast "notes": cheese, potatoes, hollandaise, bacon, buttery carbs, maple syrup. But what Koslow brings is something else entirely.
Take the "Green Eggs and Jam", caramelized onions, creamed spinach, wild arugula, and a toad in the hole in Clark Street Bakery bread. It's addictively savory, without crutches of cheese or pork. The bread is key, soft and pillowy, just a whisper of sour. Each bite hits on every register from sharp and peppery to sweet and slow-cooked.
And then there's the sorrel bowl, with Kokuko Rose brown rice, sorrel pesto, preserved Meyer lemon, lacto-fermented hot sauce, pickled radish, sheep's milk feta and poached egg. I won't go into the hot sauce, pickles and feta, which are riotous players that add heat, brine and funk. But preserved lemon! What? The flavor -- sour, bitter, salty -- makes this breakfast one for the books. The sorrel adds an apologetic weedy note (not marijuana...the other type of weed, jeez).
The avocado toast (top) presently features JJ's avocados, hot pickled carrots, green garlic creme fraiche, wood sorrel, and house za'atar. This is served all day (as opposed to the breakfast items, which are only available 'til the leisurely hour of 4pm). I'd venture to say this is the oddest avocado toast I've ever had, and that's a good thing...like I've been listening to flutes and clarinets -- sweet, mellow, easy -- and finally someone plays the oboe -- sharp, strange, memorable.
Here's the "Famous Damus", soft scrambled egg, Surryano ham, chives, ciabatta. We liked this one, though it's definitely more familiar in flavor than our other dishes.
Sqirl also serves lovely drinks and pastries. The almond milk is made in-house (so no worrying about weird emulsifiers).
This has become our dream wedding cake flavor combo: chocolate with blood orange. The best part? The crackled cacao nib crust.
Sqirl historians will know that it actually started as a jam business. If we went a third time, I'd surely get the burnt brioche with almond hazelnut butter and jam. Instead, I have two jars at home: the rather romantic-sounding Moro Blood Orange and Tonga Vanilla Marmalade and Rhubarb and Meiwa Kumquat Jam. I can't wait to try them in yogurt, on ice cream, or let's be real, by the spoonful.
Word to the wise -- jams are considered liquid and cannot be taken in carry-on luggage! I learned this the hard way. The TSA woman at the Long Beach airport saw me go from okay to grief-stricken in record time. Don't do that.