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Apr 23, 2008 08:50 AM

Anyone else frustrated by LA Mill?

Confession: I haven't eaten here, only stopped by twice for coffee/baked goods (yes the canelle is delish). However, being a die-hard ex-Silverlaker (sounds like a sports team!), I am SOOOOO disappointed that they can't seem to get it together there. It is gorgeous, no question about it. LA Mill is like that expensive splurge of furniture you buy, which makes everything else in your apartment look dingy. LA Mill makes the other Silverlake coffee shops and stores look dingy by its glimmering, shimmering glamourousness.

Don't get me wrong. We all need a dash of glamour. I am not anti-glamour.

What I am "anti" is: poor signage, poor service, for a cafe to have such a limited selection of baked goods poorly displayed.....and the worst of all crimes - a bad cup of joe. (Or $3-4 bad cappucino.) I'm writing this in response to today's LA Times' gushing about LA Mill. Maybe the food IS to die for - I am willing to give it a try. Maybe I am just sad that Back Door Bakery is gone and am taking out my frustrations on its "replacement", LA Mill which is two things Back Door Bakery never was: large and glamourous. But I'll tell you what Back Door Bakery DID have: tremendous selection of baked goods, a GREAT cup of coffee, friendly and attentive service. I must have gone 20 times and was never disappointed. A tad expensive? Yes. Amazing and worth the trip? Yes. (Orange-almond croissants, now that I've met you it's so hard to say goodbye...)

For a cafe like LA Mill's barrista to be ignorant of common coffee terminology, such as a "dry" cappucino.....what's with that? It seems like the staff was selected for their looks (everyone looks good), not their experience and service-orientation. They seem nice, just a tad confused themselves. Kind of a headache, if you ask me.

Curious what other people's takes are. Maybe I'm expecting LA Mill to be something it's not, and I need to think of it more as a restaurant that happens to have an expensive coffee maker and a few bits of pastries in front, rather than "a neighborhood cafe", with the expectations which accompany that designation!

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    1. I've been here twice (but haven't actually ordered anything) and I'm already frustrated by them (however, I tend to get frustrated easily. bad character trait I know, but oh well)

      The first time was a Sunday early afternoon. Went in and looked at the menu and was practically attacked by the hostess for picking up and looking at said menus. Decided I wasn't really that hungry, and left.

      I went in there again this past Saturday (mid) afternoon. Granted, it was pretty busy, bu t there was seating available as far as I could tell. I was totally ignored by the hostess in favor of the small groups/couples coming inside. Oh, gee I forgot - people who are alone in Los Angeles shouldn't step outside their homes! Again, I left and went to Square One.

      Not sure if I wish to give them a 3rd chance.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Pumpkin_Head

        Do they take reservations? Specifically for dinner. I suppose I could call :-)

        1. re: Pumpkin_Head

          yeah, this is what i'm talking have that poor service in a new and grandiose place is a let-down. Attitude! Hi, you're still in Silverlake, not Beverly Hills or Malibu. You're a few blocks away from a mountain of dog poo (dog park) - can you really be so snobby and pretentious? ha ha.

        2. I had a wonderful time at LA Mill. I went there for a sitdown lunch with my wife and two friends and we all loved the food, the tea, and the coffee so I can't speak for the counter service. It's pricey for sure but everything about the space and the serving vessels was great and the service was attentive -- some of the cost of the food goes to that.

          The coffee was stunningly good. I've had vacuum pot brewed coffee before but this was the best I've ever had.

          All in all, the place was a jewel. I'm never getting my morning coffee there because of the outrageous prices and I'll still frequent Intelligentsia more often, but LA Mill will always srping to mind if I want to have the absolute best coffee and a well execulted, imaginative dessert.

          Not saying all the things you said weren't true and weren't lame. Just saying that this place can be awesome, too.

          Oh, Don't be afraid of the 'quad shot' of espresso in most of their cappuccino-like drinks. It comes out to a double shot of what we're all used to.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Frommtron

            I def. do want to have a sit-down meal there. Just wanted CH readers' input since the glowing LA Times review did not mesh with my takeout experience...thx for adding to the discussion! :)

            1. re: Frommtron

              I'm with Frommtron in thinking LA Mill is a "jewel."

              I've been to LAM three times: 1) dinner (fish with skin on (so hard to find) that was DELISH!) at the counter; 2) dessert at a table (the de-constructed not quite a banana creme brulee thingy and a macchiato); and 3) dessert at the counter (liquid tiramisu). I, too, found the servers, runners & baristas to be attentive, as well as knowledgeable about the menu.

            2. "If you build it, he will come." (Field of Dreams)

              I overheard the owner talking to someone when they first opened and said one plus is they had over Intelligentsia and other places is a parking lot.

              I have it from someone close to the seller of the building that they paid $1 million and wouldn't surprise me if they put another $500,000+ into it. No expense spared--even the bathroom is wall to wall marble.

              There is no monument to coffee like LAMILL in LA. "The couture of coffee" (their quote)
              I guess be thankful its in your neighborhood?

              I was shocked when looked at the menu and a bowl of some kind of squash soup was $12.

              Sitting at the counter I was privy to a conversation between some roaster from the bay area and the barrista talking about stuff like not overextracted, bouquet and terms you hear at a wine tasting and got in on a free sample from their Japanese siphon gadget.

              I bought some decaf Organic Peru and Organic Midnight Jazz to drink at night when I don't need the caffeine buzz. Not bad for decaf and impressive one pound metal tins it comes in the price wasn't bad ($14-$16/lb) for the coffee and tin. No Clover at home to make it but an AeroPress which is close to the method.

              2 Replies
              1. re: monku

                the coffee sounds like a MUCH better deal than the soup! ;P

                1. re: lafoodie7

                  Yeah, I was surprised too. So nice you can't throw it away.

              2. OK, I have to say that I find the coffee at LA Mill vastly superior. I think there are some people who simply crave the flavors of dark roasts in drip coffee and for those people coffee is a different thing than for people who are looking for complexity. I used to be a dark roast fanatic and I know back then I would not have liked LA Mill's drip coffee. When push comes to shove, maybe I still find Peet's dark coffee intuitively the best (the same way Kraft Mac & Cheese tastes delicious when I'm exhausted).

                But I really, really miss Back Door Bakery. I would much rather have breakfast there. I miss all of their baked goods, their hashbrowns, their turkey sausage, their bagels--everything. I don't like the baked goods at LA Mill. I don't like the croissants at LA Mill. I like the sweet polenta porridge with the nuts, but c'mon, I can't eat this every day like I could eat the Back Door Bakery's turkey sausage and hashbrowns almost every day.

                That's not to say I'm not a fan of LA Mill. I think it's great in many ways. But yeah, the service and atmosphere never seem quite right and they certainly aren't the neighborhood cafe. I'm not even one of those who likes the interior--I find the interior decoration a bit...oh I don't

                1 Reply
                1. re: aventinus

                  haha, the interior decoration is the only thing silverlake-ish about the place.

                  i've had two cups of coffee from their clover and they both were bad (perhaps i just don't like the clover - didn't think intelligentsia was too great either) but one of those $3 cups was given to me cold, after they kept me waiting for quite a while. the only people behind that counter (and there are a lot of them) with the presence of mind to help customers are the bus boys.