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Huckleberry, anyone?

I was so eager to check out Huckleberry Bakery, opened a few days ago by the husband and wife team behind Rustic Canyon. Got there are 10:30am for brunch: boy, the place was jammed pack, and it's only their first weekend brunch! The deco reminded me of M Chaya Cafe at Culver City, with communal tables on the left and small tables on the right, it was crowded and noise level was a bit on the high side.

The menu looked good: pancake, BLTA & Jidori Chicken caught my eye. Desserts looked good too. However, I was looking for a place to eat & read and this was not it. I grabbed a plain croissant & raisin scone to go. Croissant was good, flaky & crunchy - I prefer Amandine's & La Pain du Jour's, but this is pretty darn good. Raisin scone was good too: not the buttery, flaky apricot ginger scone from Clementine that I'm addicted to, but a hearty scone that will go down well with a glass of milk.

I wonder if anyone manage to have a proper brunch there? Please share your thoughts. I was a bit taken a back from the price: salads & sandwiches were in the $10-$12, comparable to Anisette, but that's not gonna stop me from going back.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry 1014 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica.
www.huckleberrycafe.com
(310) 451-1322.
Open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. (They said extended hours will be in effect soon..

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  1. Went there yesterday around lunch time. It was so crowded...I decided it wasn't worth it to wait.

    1. Was also there yesterday for an early lunch and yes, it was busy but the line moved very quickly. We got the brisket sandwich to eat there and a couple of pastries to go. The brisket was so good! Wicked tender, braised in a tomato-y sauce and on their ciabatta which was awesome, definitely some of the best ciabatta I've had in LA. Their sandwiches are a bit pricey but decent sized and the quality is evident. As far as pastries, I had the coffee cake, maple bacon biscuit, doughnut, banana tart and fruit tart. Their coffee cake is as good as I remember it being from the RC breakfasts; tarts were beautiful and delicious and not too sweet(even better than Bake n Broil's banana cream pie!); doughnut was meh, it's not the same cinnamon sugar doughnuts that they serve at RC, the maple bacon biscuit was pretty good though I'm not one of those who are huge fans of bacon sweets. I have plans to go back early next week to try more/different breads and more pastries of course. Will report back after that.

      1. Went there for breakfast Sat morning 2/21. The place was packed and noisy but managed to get a table. Too many kids in strollers and nowhere to put them. Not sure how the servers work but I had to get my own water and glasses. My coffee drink never arrived - after 30 minutes of asking... The place seemed quite disorganized and no one really knew where to go and what to do. The pastries were just ok - kind of cold. The egg sandwiches that were being paraded around looked really good. The bread looked really good. Disappointed but will go back after it settles down.

        1 Reply
        1. re: smitten

          The food was better than average but it is so LOUD. I think they need to figure out a way to change the acoustics as i could not hear a word my friend said from across the table! It would be good for take-out. The cookies and pastries looked wonderful. I had brisket and it was very tasty but not good enough to compensate for the noise.

        2. I went on Sunday afternoon, and it was a madhouse. The food is very good, but they seemed unprepared for the crowds. They ran out of most of their made-to-order items by the time I was there (2 p.m.), and there was only one poor woman behind the counter trying to get through the very long line.

          They've clearly found a niche, but there are still a few kinks to work out.

          1. do they run the place like rustic canyon used to run brunch? point and pick for the baked goods and order for made to order entrees? or do they have wait staff? also, does anybody know if they have the french donuts with hot chocolate???

            1 Reply
            1. re: lakeshow318

              It is run pretty much the same as the RC breakfasts: Order at the counter and if eating there, sit at a table with a number and someone will bring you your food.

              When I was there I did not see their french donuts, just regular donuts. Here is their website, take a look at their menu.
              http://www.huckleberrycafe.com/index....

            2. Gotta try this place. And, if that's not a perfect name for a "houndly" place I've never seen one.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Servorg

                Try the poached eggs over farmer's market vegetables and the maple bacon biscuit. But beware that those biscuits sell out fast!

                1. re: mollyomormon

                  When I go it will be at their earliest opening time (8 AM) and probably on Saturday. Your suggestion sounds wonderful, Molly.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    I'll be anxious to hear your thoughts after you try it!

              2. Just was there last weekend and concur with everyone - it is a madhouse. Get there early. The food itself was very good (especially that English muffin!), but more expensive that I am able to spend on breakfast. $2.75 for a cup of coffee...ouch. When the crowd dies down a bit, it will be a very nice place to go as a treat.

                1. I just went to Huckleberry today to pick up some treats for my roommate and I. As everyone has already mentioned, it was a madhouse. All the baked goods looked delicious but I contained my self and picked out the blueberry cornmeal cake and the pumpkin tea bread. I was debating between the polenta with braised chicken or the pulled pork sandwich and went with the pork. The sandwich was delicious! I loved the combination of the crunchy bread, the vinegary pickles and the tender pork. Both of the desserts were soft, moist, and not overly sweet (which is how i like my desserts to be). The pumpkin tea bread reminded me of the holidays with its pumpkiny spice flavors. The cornmeal cake was hands down the best thing I ordered. I definitely plan on going back to Huckleberry to try some of the other things on the menu but Ill probably stick with doing take-out.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: aweintra

                    I admire your restraint. Could you elaborate on the blueberry cornmeal cake? Thanks.

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      Unfortunately, I only got a couple bites in because my roommate was obsessed with it! It was incredibly moist and reminded me of a pound cake although it was very light and wasnt dense as some pound cakes can be. The cornmeal gave it a great texture and flavor. There were enough sweet blueberries. I wish my description could do it more justice, but it ranks up there as one of my favorite baked goods of all time!

                      1. re: aweintra

                        More than enough on your description. I love cakes with cornmeal but I seem to rarely find them. Thanks for the thumbs-up on this cake...

                    2. re: aweintra

                      Madhouse pretty much describes it.

                    3. my boyfriend and i have been going to huckleberry fairly regularly, with me patiently waiting in line (and willingly paying $12 for mediocre fried green tomatoes last weekend) while he's waited outside at a table to watch over our bicycles. today one of the staff came over and told my boyfriend he couldn't sit at a table until he had food there.

                      um. really?

                      we go there almost every weekend, tip generously and wait in line patiently. he can't just sit at a table?

                      huckleberry just lost two more due to their "madhouse" as others have referred to it.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: duhitsvictoria

                        The management's rules re: holding tables is rather draconian, I agree.

                        1. re: J.L.

                          especially when the bottom line is that they're always busy, no matter what and there just aren't enough tables. period. with or without patrons holding tables.

                          1. re: duhitsvictoria

                            I understand the difficulty they have with parties splitting up and saving tables, so I understand their policy. When victoria's bf leaves her in line and waits at a table, he is occupying it while all of those in front of victoria in the food line still have to wait for one to be vacated. Not only is this unfair, but it disrupts what little flow there is and is just going to cause resentment and arguments. If they have lost the couple as customers, good riddance -- the rules there are clearly posted and very explicit.

                            1. re: nosh

                              Good point - If it's posted, then it should be followed.

                              1. re: nosh

                                actually, the rules were posted only recently, once they failed to address the situation any other way. so to say the sign is clearly posted is only a delayed and misguided reaction to a problem that has been in existence from the beginning. and to say that we disrupt the little flow there is isn't our fault. there should be FAR more than a "little" flow considering they were well aware of their following for their breakfasts when they were still over at the rustic canyon, of which we were loyal followers as well and were fine with their system over there.

                                so to say good riddance to customers who have been following their rules and their cooking for well over a year is a misguided statement on your part.

                        2. I've done the proper brunch and while many things are done nicely, I really don't see anything that special about it all...except that its new and in Santa Monica and maybe folks need a break from Marmelade. I think there's going to be a point where the novelty wears off and it'll be a nice little joint to actually sit down and have a conversation there with friends (which you can't really do right now cause its such a zoo). Also, I think its extremely overpriced. 8.50 for a tart? Come on. It's good, but really not that good.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

                            Had breakfast there last week, unfortunately. Each dish we had was very oily. The cake we took home was way too sweet. Nothing we had tasted that great. I was very disappointed by the place.

                            1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

                              This place had nice potted plants, nice service people...
                              but really acoustically loud!!!!!
                              had a less than ordinary bacon and egg sandwich with French fries
                              that could not measure up to Mc Donald's.

                              1. re: 4ahns

                                Now that's more than a bit harsh, very harsh and very hard to believe!

                            2. Stopped in for a late afternoon weekday lunch and as everyone has noted, it was a madhouse. But a quick moving madhouse with friendly counter service and happy locals filling every single seat. The buzz of the crowd created a fun atmosphere, but made it really hard to hear. Great energy, though.

                              Luckily, by the time my party made our way through the line, a table was available. We lingered over our food, and since you pay at the counter and tip the tip jar, there was no fight for the check (yay!) and nobody hurried us along for our seats.

                              Delicious salad with quirky fresh ingredients and generous portion sizes & a self-serve drink... $15 + tip for a breezy, beachy lunch close to the promenade.

                              A great treat. I'll definitely be back soon.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: joe_is_hungry

                                The initial hype back in 2009 made for a more harried experience, but I suspect it's died down a bit by now.

                                1. re: J.L.

                                  I only wish that was the case. The place is still a zoo. One can avoid the madness by calling ahead and going to the pick-up counter but yeah, it's still very loud and crowded (and I say that as someone who is a big fan of the place, although rarely chooses to actually eat in the restaurant because of the crowd/noise).

                                  1. re: mollyomormon

                                    Huckleberry is totally chaotic until after 2PM. When everything settles down it is quite pleasant. They have a limited menu from 3-7. It was explained to me that they reduce the staff during those hours. The limited menu is full enough for my needs and there are still bakery items available.
                                    I love Huckleberry's turkey meatballs. 3 as a side dish for $7.50 or as a Plate for a couple of $$ more, and that will include bread and salad.
                                    If you want those meatballs and don't want to wait, call ahead. You have the option of ordering them hot or cold. They are so-o-o good and sauce is also good. I also am partial to the English muffins...seem they sell out of these quickly. I toast my own (yet, another way to finesse that line).