IT MIGHT SEEM to you that the bread and rolls being served in some of Los Angeles' most prominent eateries look a little different these days. Places such as City Restaurant, Chez Helene and the Hotel Bel-Air are now serving great crusty dinner rolls and fine baguettes bought from La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles, which opened at the beginning of January. The owner, Nancy Silverton, was the much-acclaimed pastry chef at Spago, where she helped pioneer the house-baked bread.
La Brea Bakery rolls are distinguished by points that stick up in the center like tiny crowns (the dough of each roll is snipped, giving it this shape). The ficelles and baguettes (skinny loaves of French bread) are notably crustier than others served in Los Angeles restaurants.
The bakery also makes a whole-wheat sandwich loaf filled with sunflower seeds, bulgur and cracked wheat. Added to the repertoire more recently are: raisin bread; white sandwich loaf, and rustic six-grain, rustic walnut, rustic white, rustic rye and rustic whole-wheat breads. Rolls come in rye or currant.
To sample Silverton's wares, you don't necessarily have to go out to eat. La Brea Bakery does not restrict its sales to restaurants; you can buy the bread at the bakery itself and at other locations.