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Weekend brunch: Seven L.A.-area restaurants that are doing it right

Reviews of brunch menus at Ammo, Bouchon, Canele, Gjelina, Hungry Cat, LA Mill and Salt's Cure.

September 09, 2010|S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times restaurant critic

First of all, LA Mill has great coffee, also tea, as the inclination strikes you. Or now that it has a beer and wine license, you can start things off with a glass of tea Champagne made with Imperial Palace brut and LA Mill organic tea, or a Black & Black. That's North Coast Old Rasputin stout beer and iced LA Mill Coffee, which is weirdly good. As for eats, I love the house-made brioche doughnut holes with a side of Madagascar vanilla cream. Go ahead, order a dozen for the table. And after that, maybe one of the egg dishes baked in an earthenware cocotte, such as the version with wild mushrooms and applewood-smoked bacon lardons. If doughnut holes or eggs don't sound fetching enough, get a sandwich of fine pink jambon de Paris ham and salted Vermont butter on a baguette. Except for the extraordinary coffee, you'll think you're in Paris at some particularly hip cafe. And for dessert — how many times did you say you'd walk around Silver Lake? — maybe a Valrhona chocolate liquid-center lollipop. Also to note: Breakfast is served till 3 p.m.

LA Mill Coffee Boutique, 1636 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 663-4441; Brunch essentially every day; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Brunch items, $6.50 to $14.

SALT'S CURE. When I called to see if the long-awaited and brand-new Salt's Cure in West Hollywood took reservations for weekend brunch, the answer was, "No, we're not that together yet," which was refreshingly honest. I took my chances and dropped by anyway, and got a table right away. And in fact, the friendly crew seemed very much together when I went. OK, maybe the poached eggs were a touch overcooked, but everything else was spot on, even more impressive considering the restaurant was just a week old at the time. It's a small space with maybe 30 seats and the menu chalked on a big board at the back.

The concept is cafe and butcher, so it makes its own bacon and sausages, and from a small butcher's case, sells some cuts of beef, lamb and pork as well. That bacon, incidentally, is thick-cut and salty sweet, and so good I kept stealing bites off my companion's plate. Start with fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice and coffee. "2 + 2 + 2" is the best deal, two poached eggs with two slices of house-cured bacon and two small patties of lean, beautifully spiced house-made chorizo. The plate is garnished with red and green cherry tomatoes and a lovely pale biscuit. Black cod, lightly smoked in-house, is served on the rare side in thick slices with handmade crackers, crème fraîche and pickled shallots. The sweet stuff is set on the counter — dainty strawberry tartlets, blueberry scones, plum crisp. But I can't resist the classic coffeecake, a tall slice laced with walnuts, sugar and cinnamon.

Salt's Cure, 7494 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 850-7528; Brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Brunch items, $9 to $15.

The beautiful thing is that after a couple of month's worth of brunches, I'm more of a fan than ever. I got to spend some quality time with friends I usually never get to see. I ate well and didn't leave overstuffed. And I still had the entire day ahead of me by the time I finished. Maybe there's more to this brunch thing than I thought … as long as you avoid all-you-can-eat buffets and choose a restaurant that's trying to give the meal some respect.

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