I like my neighborhood. It feels like a neighborhood. In Los Angeles that's saying something. Neighborhoods here can comprise large geographical areas. Maybe they're actually more 'areas' than neighborhoods. I've lived in other areas of L.A.: the Fairfax district, Hollywood, West Hollywood. I moved to the eastside of Los Angeles in 1999; to Silver Lake. I quickly fell into the whole scene, the Silver Lake vibe. It reminded me of San Francisco, the East Village in New York: it wasn't L.A. Funky, more laid back, more creative, more mixed: socially, economically, racially. I'd found my L.A. home. It all worked for me. I now live in Atwater Village -- really just Silver Lake adjacent. Still quite happy in the neighborhood.
One of the reasons I like my 'hood so much is the preponderance of locally owned and operated businesses: cafes, restaurants, bars, stores and shops. Auntie Em's Kitchen is one such local business. Located in Eagle Rock, a neighborhood to the east of Atwater Village, it's a longtime fixture in the Eastside dining establishment. Owned by the indefatigable Chef Terri Wahl, the food is local, seasonal and prepared and served with a down home spirit that makes the dining experience fun and relaxing.
Robert and I had lunch there the other day. The place reminded me so much of the funky, vegetarian, hippy places I used to see all along Haight Street in San Francisco in the early 80s. Things at Auntie Em's are loose around the edges, very laid back. Want coffee? Go to the self-serve coffee island and help yourself. The room we were seated in had a reach-in refrigerator that the cooks came to for supplies. In the back was a refrigerator case full of cheeses for sale. Not only does Auntie Em's have a cafe and bakery but they also cater, sell housewares, condiments, sweets and cheese, and they recently began a farmer's market produce delivery service. I signed up for the produce delivery and I love it. Terri and her staff keep a keen eye out for whatever is fresh and seasonal. They shop at the local farmer's markets, and they work with local farmers and purveyors to keep up with what is seasonably available. The restaurant's menu changes according to what is fresh and available.
We both ordered salads; Robert had the Tossed Cobb -- chicken breast, applewood smoked bacon, avocado, blue cheese, egg, tomatoes, scallions and romaine lettuce tossed with a house dressing. I had the Grilled Steak -- thinly sliced marinated skirt steak, tomatoes, carmelized onions and blue cheese served on baby greens. The waitress told us that the first thing they were famous for was the cobb salad. The next thing was the red velvet cupcake -- a mini one of which came with the check gratis.
Auntie Em's Kitchen is a full-service fresh, organic, local and sustainable operation. My kind of place. I am glad it's part of my neighborhood.
My Status: enjoying all the summer produce; writing, cooking, blogging and eating!
Upcoming Posts: The Wedge Salad: a recipe, the origins of the salad and of Iceberg lettuce. Review: 'The Barcelona Cookbook'.