Bread… Doughy, chewy, bubble-crusted, soft, beautiful bread. In a town where the word is all but banned by the carb-unfriendly, a sign caught my eye as I walked through the Westfield mall in Century City: BREADBAR. A bar that serves bread. My imagination was hooked, fantasizing of the fluffy croissants that must be in there, of the hearty baguettes just waiting to scoop up spaghetti sauce. My stomach growled while my heart skipped simultaneously. I must!
I walked up to the tucked-away bakery, where beyond the glass windows I could see walls and walls of various shapes and colors of bread. Awed, I stepped inside, the humble way one might enter a temple. Brown loaves dusted in flour sat together in baskets, proudly facing me from mounted shelves. Oblong loaves were displayed next to them, with a card underneath that read Golden Fig. Of course the hearty baguettes were there, begging to be torn apart and drenched in olive oil. Indeed the fluffy croissants were waiting for me behind the counter, seducing me with the chocolate that oozed out of their delicate middles. The shiny tops of sweet rolls winked. The long, twisted braids of honey-colored goodness writhed. Pastries of all sorts beckoned me, promising sweet satisfaction.
I gazed at the astounding variety for several minutes. Did I want to try a slice of the Curcuma Hazelnut Loaf? Perhaps take home an Olive Petit? Or eat a sandwich made with the Sierra Redwood Rye? But it was the simple, plump little bun with the pointy top that I ordered. I just kept coming back to it. It felt safe. It was sprinkled with coarse beads of sugar, with a thin golden brown crust that gently encased white fluff.
Once back inside my car, where I could enjoy it properly without distraction, I tore off a tender piece of the Sugared Brioche. It almost melted in my mouth. The flakiness of the blatant white flour reminded me of lighter, carefree days, when whole wheat and gluten-free weren’t even in my vocabulary. I slowly ate piece by buttery piece, trying to savor every cloud-like crumb. I pressed the brioche into the pearls of sugar that had rolled off and into the bottom of the bag. Too soon, my heavenly little bun was gone.
The next day, I went to the BREADBAR on Third Street. The hustling vibe of the Beverly Hills lunch crowd faded to background noise as I gazed at the beautiful loaves. I had to have my Sugared Brioche again, but I also ordered the Grilled Cheese on Rustic Millstone Bread. The melted mozzarella and cheddar bubbled out of it. The onion confit and sun-dried tomato spread were perfectly balanced, and I didn’t even try the delicious-looking side salad. Who could waste their bites on lettuce when there was bread and cheese to be had?
I flew to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival the following weekend, dreaming of getting back to LA to try BREADBAR’S tasty-looking breakfast. Would I try the Breakfast Basket for Two? What must their French toast be like, or their house-made granola? I have a feeling this artisan bakery/cafe might very well become a regular favorite. With locations in Santa Monica, Century City, and Beverly Hills-adjacent, I just pity my friends who live in the Valley.
Photo of Alice Greczyn by Theo Greczyn