Silver Lake: Brioche, Jam & Pesto Bowls from SQIRLSep 10 2013 · 3 comments · Breakfast, Brunch, Locavore, Restaurant Reviews, Silver Lake
Since their opening last October, I find myself at SQIRL once a week, mostly because their food tastes like home cooking ratcheted up to a notch that I myself would never bother with, but am happy paying $5-12 dollars to enjoy. SQIRL summons a steady cult following that consistently crowds its small Silver Lake space for their simple, farm-fresh fare (focusing on homemade jams and ingredients sourced within 350 miles) and adventurous daily specials. Their changing chalkboard menu lists such basics as brioche toast slathered with nut butters and house-made jams, pesto rice bowls, pies and quiches as well as unusual seasonal specials, like squid ink cavatelli, lobster rolls and duck confit.
My usual meal at SQIRL is some variation on their brioche toast—they make it savory or sweet, buttered and browned with any combination of spreads, house-made ricotta, jam, and nut butter, or heaped with sautéed kale, tomatillo jam, a subtle lacto-fermented hot sauce and a fried egg. This week I settled on the brioche topped with a silken ricotta and Black Mission Fig & La Clarine Mourvedre jam. Basically that is a fancy, hifalutin way of saying fig and red wine jam, but SQIRL, with their tiny kitchen and mismatched serving plates and silverware, does not come off as pretentious in their execution or follow the farm-to-table fad blindly. There is an earnestness and sincerity to all that they do.
My brioche toast, as usual, was optimally crisped on the outside while remaining soft and buttery in the center. The warm toasted bread paired well with the slight chill of the smooth ricotta, and the fresh fig jam added just the right note of sweetness, with satisfying chunks of chewy, marinated figs.
My meal mates ordered the Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl finished with bright pink and green watermelon radish slices and a fried egg. I find the rice bowls a little boring and sour (Really? A big bowl of green, lemony rice for lunch?), but I am definitely the odd one out in that opinion, since it is one of their most popular dishes (evidenced by the fact that out of my party of 4, I was the only one that ordered something else).
Another reliable dish at SQIRL is their Carrot Socco Pancake paired with a side of dressed greens. I’ve also had a version of this dish with zucchini instead of carrot, and both had an indulgent, fluffy texture yet were chock full of healthy veggies. I always pair my meal with a café au lait, served in a charming handmade ceramic mug and accompanying carafe. SQIRL carries the usual roster of small label coffee brands and house-made juices, including a very strange “Turmeric Tonic” that combines fresh squeezed orange juice with the peppery, golden herb. The staff mentioned that turmeric is known to be very good for the digestive system, if you can get past the bitterness and rubbery feeling on your teeth.
Unfortunately, I have yet to try their exotic, luscious daily specials—so far I have only ogled Instagram images of delicious looking terrines, confits and rare cuts of meat because every time I stop into SQIRL, I am lured once again by the brioche toast. My mission to finally try their elusive, frequently varying specials is part of the reason I, and everyone else on the eastside, continue to return on a regular basis, keeping SQIRL jam packed (pun intended)!
720 N Virgil Ave #4
Jennifer Li is new to Eastside Food Bites. You can read more from her and her boyfriend on their new blog Corned Beef and Rice.