Bread is a beautiful thing. It's arguably one of humankind’s greatest inventions. Whether it’s soft and fluffy, thin and flexible, or hard and crusty, it’s really hard to argue with a good loaf of bread. And who would want to? That said, there is "good bread" and then there is good bread. The latter is something truly special; a loaf so perfectly baked and so full of flavor and texture that it puts all your past bread choices to shame. The bread at Lodge Bread Co. is without a doubt the second type: it's some really good bread.
If the simple fact that Lodge Bread is home to some of the best good bread in the city isn't enough reason for you to fall in love, fear not - there are endearing qualities abound. For one, its backstory is a classic example of the American Dream: two young chefs, fed up with the rigid, high-stress professional kitchen environment set out on their own to nurture a passion project - baking bread. They set up shop in a carport (seriously), where they experimented with heritage grains and created their own wild-fermented sourdough starter. Before long, word got out about their incredible bread, and they began selling loaves at farmers' markets and restaurants. A bakery of their own was the natural next step, and after only two years in business, it was already time to expand into a larger space.
Need another reason to like Lodge? Those young chefs, Or Amsalam and Alexander Phaneuf, are legitimately really nice guys. They're at the bakery most days, working hard alongside their equally affable staff, shaping perfect loaves of bread and stretching dough for their well-loved pizzas. The bakery's beautiful, light-filled space buzzes with a friendly optimism; perhaps a product of people working hard at something they truly love.
Lodge's recent expansion has doubled the size of its operation, allowing ample space for a new pizza oven on one side, a bread and pastry kitchen on the other, and seating in between. During the week, people gather here for business meetings or to tuck into a good book, while the staff works busily away in their open kitchens, just inches from the dining area. As you'd expect, weekends are significantly more busy, though with a little patience, finding a table isn't too difficult.
The menu is short and sweet; handwritten on huge paper rolls on the wall behind the counter. Offered are a tempting array of pizzas, expertly cooked veggies and salads, and a multitude of ways to enjoy some of that famously good bread - in the form of simple toasts, more complex toasts, or melted sandwiches. A glass case by the register houses beautiful baked goods, including a sourdough cinnamon roll that's roughly the size of your head. There's a blue glowing Elektra machine that churns out delicious espresso, or you can enjoy a cup of drip coffee in a mug that's charmingly emblazoned with the f-word. Word on the street is that Amsalam and Paneuf are devoted coffee lovers, so the carefully arranged bags of beans from top-notch coffee roasters like Four Barrel and De La Paz come as no surprise.
As a lover of almond butter, honey, and sourdough, I could not help but order the almond butter toast on my recent weekday morning visit - and I have been dreaming about it ever since. With its thick slice of sourdough bread, incredibly generous spread of house-made fresh almond butter, and delicate lace-like drizzle of honey on top, this is a hearty meal in itself. The flavor combination is a delight; the sourness of the bread comes as such a pleasant surprise, especially when married with the creamy almond butter, the sweet and floral honey, and a sprinkling of salt. This is undoubtedly one of the best things I've eaten this year, and I can't wait to come back for another slice.
Because every meal deserves a good vegetable, I also ordered the roasted beets - a vibrant salad with bright flavors and a satisfying variety of textures. The beets were perfectly cooked, then were tossed with orange slices, almonds, and fresh herbs in a light vinaigrette, and topped with a dusting of fresh horseradish. The horseradish is an unexpected but delightful addition, offering a sharp bite and a complex depth of flavor.
At a recent brunch with friends on a weekend, I was able to sample a few more dishes - the cauliflower with tahini and "tons of herbs," the shakshuka, the cinnamon sugar toast, and the avo toast. True to form, the cauliflower was expertly prepared - roasted until charred, smothered in tahini and oil, and tossed with golden raisins and (indeed) a ton of herbs. It was flavorful, satisfying, and so delicious.
The shakshuka was just what you would hope it would be - a delicious, saucy, eggy mess served with thick slices of bread to soak it all up. The bell peppers were a nice addition, and were cooked just until firm, adding a nice texture to the dish.
A treat for the eyes as much it was a treat for the tongue, the avocado toast was another perfect vehicle for showing off just how good artisan bread can be. The creamy avocado and thinly sliced radishes were delicate in flavor enough to allow the bread's character to shine through, and we loved the big flakes of coarse salt sprinkled on top.
And for those hoping for a bit of childhood nostalgia, there is the cinnamon sugar toast - such a simple, perfect combination, paired with plenty of butter and a big slice of good bread. This served as proof of concept that the best things in life are those that are simple, yet well executed.
For a food lover, this fine city of ours is bursting with possibility; every weekend marks a new restaurant opening or a new absurd food trend. Even with significant effort, eating at all the best restaurants in town would be an impossible feat, so for many, flailing from one restaurant to the next without a repeat is the norm - but a place like Lodge is capable of changing all that. You'll feel at home here - be it in the morning for toast and coffee, at lunch for perfectly cooked vegetables, or in the evening for their famous pizzas and a cold beer - and you'll never want to leave. So let's agree to start a not-so-new, not-so-absurd food trend: finding a place that serves food you love, in an environment that you love, that you can visit every week. Mine'll be Lodge.
Lodge Bread Co.
11918 Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066