Monday, August 14, 2006

Saturday morning: Breaded bliss

Saturday was going to be a busy day, and I wanted to get an early start. After Friday night's after-hours vino-fest though, my body was not so excited about this prospect. I had to run an errand in Beverly Hills, and I had to have a coffee (the tea thing goes well, by the way. This was a rare treat). There's a place about a block from said errand called Breadbar, that I've been wanting to go to forever.

In spite of my rushed schedule, I managed to rationalize a trip. The place's focus is their bakery -- artisanal breads -- but they also have omelets and sandwiches and a few entrees. All I wanted was a piece of dense wheaty bread with butter and a cup of coffee. Quick and simple and wholesome, and it'll give me some time to finish up the bookclub book before tomorrow's meeting. I wasn't sure how this would go over, but after all, it's a bread bar, right?

It's a very modern, bustling space: lots of windows, utilitarian tables and benches inside, sidewalk tables with very cool chairs outside. I sat down at one outside and was duly ignored for a good long time. On one hand, I was quite enjoying this bright spot, with fun peoplewatching opportunities. At the table behind mine, a woman was chatting in Russian to her breakfast companion, in English to their waitress, and in Hebrew to her cellphone. A fashionable dad gave his fashionable son a piggyback ride outside the shop. On the other, I really had things to do. Edging on annoyed.

After I had flagged down a couple busboys, my waiter finally appeared at my table. He made up for lost time -- he was a fast talker. "You want the special? You just gonna have coffee? What's up? What can I get you?" I asked him if it was possible to just have bread and butter, and he smiled. "We have 15 types of bread," he said, and started rattling off the list. Olive, fig, turmeric hazelnut (!), cheese bread. Wow. Overwhelmed with choices, I asked for something on the wheaty side.

Next thing I know, he comes back with a basket with about 8 different types of bread. Whole grain and buckwheat, yes, but also all the others listed above, and a piece of gorgeous baguette -- thin and pointy with a floury stripe spiraling around its length. Two wee ramekins of marmalade, lots of butter, and a bottle of olive oil. A bread feast! What a treat.

I really need to have my camera at all times. This dinky Palm camera ain't cutting it.

I read, I peoplewatched (the table next to me filled with a French family, and my waiter greeted them warmly, kissing the patriarch on the cheek and immediately bringing them their usuals), and I tasted. I managed to just take small bits, but there was so much deliciousness. The turmeric hazelnut was soft and cakey and bright yellow. The baguette was perfect -- thick crust on the outside, soft and holey crumb on the inside. The buckwheat was nutty and dense, and absorbed the fruity olive oil deliciously. My favorite was the olive bread -- strong brine flavor, lots of rosemary. I felt so pampered -- all this for me!

As I was winding down, I asked for a bag to take the bounty home, and started wondering how much this was going to set me back. This was seriously several days' worth of bread, and I'm in Beverly Hills after all. He brought over the check, again with that toothy smile. Two seventy-one. Two seventy-one? He just charged me for the coffee. Amazing! Really amazing. You see? This weekend is charmed.

Breadbar is at 8718 West Third St, just east of Robertson.

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