Neighborhood: Silver Lake, LA
Next up on our write-up schedule for L.A. is the nondescript Sqirl, with myself, Official Co-Writer/Fiancee of DCWD Texas, and Official Friend of DCWD Mark in tow.
To hear Official Friend of DCWD Mark tell it, we were going to something like a curated coffee shop, the newly opened kitchen that mirrored DC's Seasonal Pantry. Apparently, Sqirl started out as one woman's passion for making fruit preserves, which led to farmers' market stints, niche buzz, and eventually this storefront.
Sqirl is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it enterprise, a plain black building with no real visible markings, surrounded by the area's ubiquitous Spanish-laden stores and warehouses. Its interior is clean and simple: a small nook into a U-shaped kitchen with a register counter and some shelving for products, as well as a patch of food behind some glass. Some spartan street seating sits out front and in a small sidecar patio, its furniture a smattering of built-in benches, overturned crate boxes, and plastic chairs. Still, the whole set-up never strikes you as meager, but rather reserved, a pleasant simplicity.
In some way, the decor matches the cuisine at Sqirl, in its combination of easiness and elegance. Our meals at the same time not overwhelmingly complicated, while being a little involved. Take my dish: a bowl of rose brown rice layered with kale pesto, preserved meyer lemon, lacto fermented hot sauce, radish, dill, feta, and a poached egg. As Mark noted, at its heart, the dish was a Western farmers' market bibimbap, with its familiar combination of rice and egg with notes of heat and greens. Put simply, this was the best bite I had all day (and this was a day filled with tacos and the venerable Animal). It effortlessly emphasized tart (lemon, feta) will simultaneously mellowing them out with fleshy herb-forward notes (kale, dill). It had the desirable quality of seeming healthy and gluttonous at the same time. And most importantly, it took foods not normally associated with brunch and made them feel just as friendly and light as eggs and toast.
But if toast seemed more apropos, Texas's and Mark's brioche dishes hit the nail on the head. Texas's was topped with kale, a tomatillo puree, lacto fermented hot sauce, and a fried egg, while Mark went the sweet route and had his slathered in chocolate ganache, nut butter, and fleur de sel. Both hit their marks by focusing on pure incredible flavors, Texas's on the freshness of its ingredients and on the blend between earthiness and heat; and Mark's on the unsubtle joy of sweet for breakfast.
Somehow, the best bite of our entire trip to L.A. The kind of place that you wish was in your neighborhood, so you could get coffee there every morning.
Food Rating: **** 1/2 (out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: N/A
Cost: $ (out of 5) (less than $25 for two)