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Simple, satisfying lunch at Stories Bookstore

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I know it’s impolite, but eating and reading go hand and hand for me. No matter how many times my mom squawked “No reading at the dinner table!” when I was a kid, I just couldn’t kick the habit, which I’m pretty sure is lifelong. That’s why I was so glad to hear that Stories, the new bookstore in Echo Park, has a cafe serving sandwiches, pastries and coffee right next to their shelves of new and used books.

The menu is simple: pastries, bagels (from Brooklyn Bagels) with a choice of spreads, a small selection of sandwiches, freshly-made soups and a few sides like hummus and couscous salad. There are coffee and espresso drinks made with Raven’s Brew coffee and a few sodas. The cheerful blackboard menu promises that all produce comes from the Echo Park and Atwater Village farmers markets and that the coffee is freshly roasted in Los Angeles.

The cafe is at the back of the store and offers a long narrow table alongside the cookbooks where patrons can sit and eat, but you can also settle at one of the tables near the front window or in the back patio, an alleyside space spruced up by a large mural and a smattering of plants.

I stopped by on a gray, chilly day and was craving some soup, but unfortunately the vegetable soup wasn’t yet ready, so I opted for a cup of veggie chili and the dill tuna sandwich. Both were simple and totally satisfying. The chili was chunky and only mildly spiced, with a pure, clean flavor and interesting mix of textures. All the bread at Stories comes from Breadbar, so it’s no surprise the star of the tuna sandwich was the rye bread, served lightly toasted, a perfect blend of crisp and chewy with a very mild rye flavor. The presentation of the food — cup of soup, sliced sandwich, pickle spear and spoon on a square white plate — was straightforward and pleasing, like the meal itself.

The only downside to the meal was the service, which was slightly awkward and not entirely welcoming, but that will hopefully improve with time. Despite that, Stories is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, a place where no one will look at you twice for oh-so-rudely reading while you eat.

More pics at http://evilmonito.com/2009/02/18/read...

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Stories Books & Cafes
1716 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

 
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