Los Angeles: Huckleberry Cafe

Before young pastry chef Zoe Nathan opened her crowd-filled, noisy new bakery/café Huckleberry, there was a sort of Saturday morning workshop version across the street at her and husband Josh Loeb’s restaurant, Rustic Canyon. It was Nathan’s way of proving to her reluctant spouse that the westside crowd would turn out for weekend brunch. “It was utter chaos, a motley crew,” Nathan remembers of the eight months she spent pulling baking all-nighters with her father—whose day job, of all things, is as a writer-producer on Bones—and her best friend Alice, which culminated in Rustic Canyon’s long bar being transformed into a sugary tableau of coffeecakes, doughnuts, blueberry cornmeal cakes, her famous maple-bacon biscuits, and vanilla bread puddings featuring caramelized seasonal fruit. With Huckleberry, Nathan has a bigger support team, an Italian deck oven, and the opportunity to expand the savory side of her menu. There’s a crisp-bottomed flatbread topped with potato and onion; a Niman Ranch beef shepherd’s pie; and a dreamy sandwich involving a fried egg, bacon, crisp arugula, and Gruyère that’s melded to slices of rustic bread. Nathan grew up ten blocks away from Huckleberry and therefore has the culinary whims of her yoga-loving, upper-middle-class clientele down cold. But when the typically giggly Nathan talks about her turkey meatballs, there’s a hint of something else in her voice. “They fly out of here,” Nathan says, sounding surprised, wistful, and maybe a little sleepy. “I’m a turkey meatball factory.”

Huckleberry Café 1014 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA (310-451-2311; huckleberrycafe.com)



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