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Aug 23, 2007 08:42 AM

Grateful Bread bakery -- no Amandine!

I saw a mention of a new bakery on Montana, Grateful Bread, in the L.A. Times's food blog the other day. Since it's on my way to work, I stopped in this morning for a pain au chocolat and a cup of coffee. The former was $3, the latter $2. The same items are less expensive at Amandine on Wilshire, and at Amandine both are (a) bigger and -- more important -- (b) better. Amandine is also a far more pleasant space, with better lighting and more comfortable tables and chairs (Grateful Bread is much more "industrial" looking, with backless bench/stools that are not in the least comfortable). If Grateful Bread considers itself in competition with Amandine, which I assume is somewhere in its proprietors' minds, it may wish to reconsider its business plan a little.

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    1. re: Diana

      12225 Wilshire Blvd. (One block West of Bundy Dr.)
      Los Angeles, CA 90025

      Anything croissant related like the Pain au Chocolat or Chocolate/Banana Croissant and most other pastries and cakes are wonderful. Also good breakfests and sandwiches at lunch!

      1. re: sel

        I've never had Amandine's prepared breakfasts (e.g., omelets) or lunches, only their pastries and breads. Sel is correct about croissant-related items; they are flaky and very buttery, and extremely good. They also make terrific brioche, fruit tarts (sold by the piece), and Danish. I've also bought cheesecakes, which are wonderful. It is by far the best bakery I've encountered on the west side.

        1. re: ozhead

          The breakfasts and lunches are pretty good, too. I like the potato-log thing that comes with breakfast (imo, they should serve that all day) and they use their awesome bread for the sandwiches (my favorite is turkey with avocado). I absolutely love the banana-chocolate danish, which has fresh bananas and drops of chocalate -- just amazing. I also second the brioche.

          1. re: a_and_w

            The banana-chocolate danish has one more (shh - it's secret) ingredient that is easily missed while wolfing these things down - shredded toasted coconut. I am guessing alot folks don't care for coconut, but the small amount that they add before adding the chocolate and (I think flambe'ed) bananas hits that nutty corner of the flavor realm. I third the brioche and the baguettes make fine sandwiches for picnics...

          2. re: ozhead

            I usually get Amandine's Croque Madame for brunch. They serve french toasts for breakfast but I never quite make it up by 11 am :(

            IMO my favorite at Amandine was this Mango Tart that they were having when they had this student-designed-cakes a while ago. I haven't been back since, but it would be great if they decided to make it permanent :) Went with my bf and we ordered a slice during brunch, then we got a whole one to go!

      2. I totally disagree! Amandine is great, but a little stuffy. Grateful Bread is much cooler. I like the industrial design. Maybe it's just a taste thing. And the croissants that I tried (Almond, ham and cheese) were unbelievably fluffy and buttery. I haven't tried a sandwich there yet, but I have friends who work on Montana and 10th who have been going every day. I think it's like apples and oranges - Grateful Bread is hip and young and fresh feeling, and also more Mom and Pop. Amandine is good (don't get me wrong - they have good products) but it feel more corporate and more snooty.

        Just my opinion. Try Grateful Bread for yourself and see if you don't like it. Their logo and name make me smile everytime I think about it. Cute but not cutesy, you know? I saw Amber Valetta in tere when I stopped by, and someone said Tom Hanks is a fan of grateful Bread too, so clearly it's catching on in Santa Monica.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Phillip15

          Agree re product and atmosphere assessment... I like the bar seating at Grateful Bread, and it's a lot more kid friendly, plus there's shopping to be done after and before at GB whereas Amandine is more of a place you go to only for itself, not as a stop within a great area with other else to do.

          1. re: Phillip15

            Hmmmm....The term "corporate" never popped into my head at Amandine! I drive 10 miles just for their banana caramel nut danish thing!

            1. re: Phillip15

              Amandine = "corporate" and "snooty"?!? Vague and detached is more like it; distracted and disinterested perhaps? But how can anywhere with such a filthy floor be called "corporate"? or "snooty" for that matter? For the record, I love this place, filthy floor, distracted, disinterested, vague and detached personnel notwithstanding. The pastries are delicious. The cookies are wildly overpriced though. IMO some of their cakes can be a little boring though I can't recall (sorry!) the names of offenders. It's approximately an order of magnitude better than Literati I believe.

            2. I LOVE GRATEFUL BREAD!! I work on Montana so i've been looking for a great sandwich shop and this place rocks. The rosemary chicken sandwich is really good, and the little amond crisp cookies are out of this world. The other thing i like are their low fat bran muffins. i've never been to almandine but grateful bread works for me. it also has great coffee, better than starbucks or coffee bean.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mjfinley

                OK, after having written up a review of GB's no so impressive pastries, I went back to try their sandwiches today. You are absolutely right. Their rosemary chicken was really delicious. I had it on the small whole wheat sesame baguette roll. This is one of the best sandwiches I've ever had in SM. I've never liked the sandwiches at Amandine but their pastries are second to none. If you get a chance to go, must try their almond and cinnamon croissants.

              2. I have never been to Grateful Bread, but I work near Amandine and I don't think the food there is any good. The only reason to go to Amandine is for the pastries and since I am trying to cut sweets out of my life, I see no reason to go to Amandine. Wish there was decent food in the neighborhood, but it's a wasteland.

                3 Replies
                1. re: omotosando

                  I think the food was ok at Amandine, but as for the area being a wasteland? There may not be much, but just head 100 yards to the east and you have Literati Cafe. Go directly south a mile and there is Lemon Moon. Head west a couple miles and you get Pacific Dining Car. I know they're not all walking distances, but it's far from a wasteland.

                  Literati II
                  12081 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                  Lemon Moon
                  12200 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                  Pacific Dining Car
                  2700 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                  1. re: rlic80

                    I hadn't realized there was a Pacific Dining Car at 27th and Wilshire. Princeton and Wilshire is not walking distance from my office and Pacific Dining Car is a little pricey for a day-to-day lunch, but it is good to know it is there, especially since I see from their website that they serve lunch until 4:00 p.m. I consider Literati Cafe among the worst food I have had in Los Angeles. I know nothing of Lemon Moon, but consider Olympic and Bundy to be a whole different neighborhood. I would drive to Brentwood before I would drive to Olympic from my office.

                    I am still puzzled why the Wilshire corridor between Federal and Bundy cannot support any decent restaurants. I have been so depressed after re-signing a lease for an office in that neighborhood that I have consoled myself by signing up with one of the daily meal delivery services. I just can't face another lunch in the neighborhood and almost moved my office for that reason alone.

                    1. re: omotosando

                      Have you ever tried any of the food from Sainsbury Market at Amherst and Wilshire (across the street from Amandine)? Sandwiches and soup along with bagels and danish, etc. Not bad for lunch. Try a toasted onion bagel with an omelet and shaved ham. They also deliver breakfast and lunch to the local offices.

                      Sainsbury Market
                      12200 Wilshire Blvd
                      Los Angeles, CA 90025
                      (310) 826-4388

                2. Finally made it to Grateful Bread with high hope that I can claim this place my go-to bakery since it's within walking distance from where I am. Alas! I have to agree Grateful Bread is no Amandine!

                  I've got a few items to take home:

                  almond croissant--if I haven't tasted Amandine I would say this is pretty good, but now I prefer the almond paste filling at Amandine better than the custard filling at GB. GB's does come with plenty of sliced almonds on the outside which add to the nutty taste.

                  ham & cheese croissant--it's a little chewy for me, not fluffy at all. I would rather have a flaky salty croissant from City Bakery.

                  brioche with sugar--pretty good with my own fresh apricot perserves

                  raisin & walnut scone--a tiny scone that costs $.50. pretty tasty.

                  cranberry scone--ok

                  blueberry muffin--pretty good

                  beignet--they should call it a fried donut because it's very oily and doesn't have any taste to it. Whenever I see a beignet I get excited hoping to find it as savory as the one from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans but no luck so far.

                  I also got a couple bagettes ( a whole wheat and another one with sesame). These are better than any of the pastry items. I would give GB another chance and go back to try their sandwiches.