Sycamore Kitchen – A New Contender for Best Brunch

11 Jul

Maybe this title is getting ahead of me. One visit is not enough to take the crown from Huckleberry (I’ve been meaning to write up Zoe Nathan’s place for a long time). But I was kind of blown away by how great Sycamore Kitchen was.

SK is Karen Hatfield’s relatively new breakfast/lunch place, highlighting her great pastries. Karen and her husband, Quinn, have been running Hatfield’s for a few years.

No one’s trying to reinvent the wheel here — full range of baked goods, good coffee (Stumptown!), and comfort food dishes featuring seasonal ingredients. It’s what almost every place opening these days sells itself as (well, maybe not every place is so ambitious with its pastry program).

Hatfield is just doing it really well.

Here’s the sweet pastry case full of awesomeness. Crostatas with seasonal fruit, galettes, mint Oreos — SK manages to touch on several pastry points of view: homey comfort food, elegant French patisserie, and farm to table seasonality.

Here are two wonderful examples. On the left is the salted caramel pecan babka roll, SK’s signature dish. Lots of places do a sticky roll, MB Post comes to mind, but SK’s version adds a faint salt touch which heightens the caramel flavor. On the right is the buttercup, a croissanty creation that is similar to a kouign amann without the sweetness. It is a bit too heavy on the butter for me, but has the flaky layering of good French pastry. Excellent.

Ah, the innards.

SK’s pork belly hash. Pork belly, potatoes, roasted peppers and onions, spinach, and a couple fried eggs. The flavors here are complex yet familiar. No curveballs or twists here — just a bunch of things that taste good prepared so well. This was great.

Got the ham and cheese hand pie. This was well-done but not that special. Well made tart pastry and then the ham was fine and the cheese (Brie?) was good. If they had charged me $3 it would have been great. But they plated it with a forgettable side salad of greens for $6.50.

More innards.

The final touch of greatness was the verbena lemonade. What made this great was that they are restrained with the sweetness. You get a nice blend of the herb and tart lemon, and because it isn’t too sweet it is refreshing. It’s a bit pricey at $4, but was one of the best simple drinks I’ve had.

SK impressed me. I was expecting it to be good, but I wasn’t expecting the excellence of the main course and the pastries. The comp is Huckleberry, of course, because Zoe Nathan’s place also features a full pastry and bread program, as well as great cooked dishes. Huckleberry is still the champ because Nathan makes a huge range and every single thing is spot-on. But I’m going to have to go back a few times and eat my way through the other offerings — SK may be a real contender for the crown.

The Sycamore Kitchen
143 south la brea
los angeles ca 90036
tel:(323) 939-0151

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