Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Eat Out. La Brea Bakery.

With Chef Mark Peel at its helm, La Brea Ave.'s Campanile gets a lot of deserved attention for its delicious cuisine. But at $18 for a grilled cheese and $12 for a tomato soup, it's not exactly affordable dining for most of us.

But don't stray far; in fact, just look next door to the La Brea Bakery. Indeed, this spot right off of Miracle Mile is the origin of the delectable baked goods you may find popping up in local restaurants and even the supermarket shelf, but what many don't seem to know is that it also serves as an actual cafe too, complete with salads, beverages and yes, hot sandwiches and paninis made with that infamous fresh bread.

The salads are pre-packaged (though I know people who have enjoyed them) and I have yet to try their coffee or teas, but this is about the bread anyway, right? And these sandwiches truly deliver. They're under the counter when you walk in, but definitely ask for them to be heated up in their panini press, and you'll be all set to go in gooey delight. Think smoked ham and gruyere with balsamic onions and arugula on a rustic roll, or marinated artichokes, ricotta and pesto on olive bread. All top-notch ingredients, all packing a flavorful punch, and at $8 each, a pretty good deal for gourmet-style eating.

While you're waiting for the sandwiches to heat up, grab a bite or two from the basket of bread samples they always have out. And if you're extra nice (which the people who work there are), you may even get to sample some of their artisan cheeses or win some extra pickles to go with your meal (like I did, above). Then head outside to grab a pleasant sidewalk table, where you might catch a celeb or two walking out from next door, if you're not too busy wolfing down your sandwich, that is.

La Brea Bakery is located at 624 La Brea Ave. in Mid-City.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: the BEAT

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