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Mar 25, 2010 07:04 PM

Bite Bar & Bakery - seriously good croissants

I haven't been this excited about a croissant in a long time. It's better than Euro Pane when it was good, better than Maison du Pain in both texture and flavor, better than Hygge & La Brea Bakery by a long shot.

I've only had their croissants so far and was absolutely blown away by them. Amazing crunch to the exterior, tender and buttery sweet ribbons on the interior, perfectly seasoned and perfectly sized.

Looking forward to trying their other baked goods though it's really hard to pass up a perfect croissant.

In the old Violet space:

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  1. Wow! Just got back from Bite. I had a fantastic, light and flaky pain au chocolat that was memorable, and a very nice capuccino. Their samples promise many delicious treats, and I'm looking forward to lunch and dinner in the future. They've done wonders for the old Violet space (I wonder how many coats of paint it took to cover the old murals), and the staff is welcoming. I'm really glad to have them in the neighborhood.

    1. Oh My, I am so in trouble, this is right on my commute. I have been struggling to make do with
      ( pricey for their size) Pain du Jour croisants, I will be trying BB&B for lunch, menu looks very fresh, good range from Pulled pork to tasty sounding vegan.( is that an oxymoron?)
      I don't see any pricing online...what range are things?

      1 Reply
      1. re: ciaolette

        I only glanced at the menu but I think the prices were in the 8-12 range. Cash only for now until they get set up for credit cards. I'll be stopping in real soon for lunch. And speaking of samples, I tried 2 things last time I was there - something chocolate & a bread pudding - and those were very promising as well.

      2. Thank you, thank you for posting. I wanted to post asking about this space when I noticed as I was pulling out of TJ's yesterday that something had finally opened in the Violet space, but I couldn't remember the name. Very exciting!

        1. Thanks for posting, soniabegonia!
          This location is good after the Pico Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. The menus, both for breakfast and lunch, really appeal to me. I am looking forward to a visit there -- soon!

          1. We had breakfast at Bite this morning, and I really have to thank you for posting them on the board. It's a nice roomy space for its size, and casual - right up my alley. I get a strong sense that Elizabeth has put a lot of thought into just about every aspect of her place. The space itself, the service, and of course the ingredients and preparation of the food.

            The layout, the spacing, the decor, and colors are very easy on the eyes and inviting. We found both the tables and booths were comfortable, and the layout to be generous with a smooth flow from front to back.

            The staff is very friendly as well. The young man (Goberde) behind the counter seems to really enjoy the interaction with customers, and is very helpful with the chalkboard menu. It's somewhat limited right now, but I see tons of potential here. They are still in a "soft opening" stage, so I think they're working on the right matrix of menu items and baked goods.

            We ordered four different breakfast items. The pain au chocolat; the egg souffle in croissant cup with side of fruit salad; the eggy bread sandwich with fruit salad, and the croissant sandwich filled with homemade nutella and strawberries with fruit salad. One thing I immediately noticed was the freshness and quality of the produce. The fruits in the fruit salad (gooseberries, segmented citrus, ripe blueberries and strawberries) were far beyond the average afterthought and the herbs for garnish were very fresh as well.

            The taste and texture of the pain au chocolat was amazing - crispy almost shard-like in texture on the outside, while flakey, soft and buttery inside, enveloping a nice strand of quality dark chocolate in the middle. If textures and taste are the criteria for a great croissant, I think Bite might have one of the best (if not THE best) croissant in the Westside, if not LA.

            The baked goods in general that are displayed on the counter are first rate. I would urge folks to try the samples as you will end up reaching for more. We sampled the key lime slice and and the blueberry muffin. Yeah, blueberry muffins are everywhere, and key lime desserts are not so uncommon now, but the balance of flavors, the amount of sweetness and the textures in these were exact. I think it's the kitchen using first rate ingredients and Elizabeth just being so capable at her craft that pulls everything together.

            The egg souffle was nice, light and eggy, and slices of sweet cherry tomatoes and a chiffonade of basil on top, all held in a cup of flakey croissant pastry. A truly wonderful package.

            The eggy bread sandwich is basically a well-executed panini breakfast sandwich. A nice layering of frittata, bacon and cheddar cheese sandwiched in between two slices of slightly sweet brioche that is then pressed panini-style. If grill marks get points, then this sandwich gets a 10.0 from my son.

            The croissant sandwich is a lighter breakfast item. As it's described, it is a sandwich, but with the filling being strawberries and homemade nutella, it is on the light side, but full of flavor. The nutella is pretty amazing stuff. Dark - almost black - and the flavor of hazelnuts is far more pronounced and truer than the "real" stuff. Each of us enjoyed a bite and were left with "moles" of nutella on our faces as proof of its abundance in the sandwich. Anyone who loves nutella needs to try Bite's version. The bursts of flavor from the nutella and sliced strawberries packaged in a croissant of epic quality, this is no ordinary croissant sandwich.

            We ordered hot chocolate for the kids and a coffee and a cafe au lait. The coffee is medium-bodied - not extraordinary but perfectly fine. The cafe au lait was proper with a deep rich flavor balanced with a nice amount of steamed milk - no foam. The hot chocolate is billed as "home-made." The first sip confirms this - made from scratch. Very deep and rich cocoa flavors. I wouldn't recommend this for the kids unless they enjoy dark chocolate (as ours do), but you can ask them to thin it out with more milk.

            We picked up some pastries to go. I have yet to try them but will report back on what I think. I know this is based on only one visit, but I'm going out on a limb here by saying that if Bite keeps up at this level but with an expanded menu and more choices on the baked goods counter, I can easily see this place being referred to in a similar vein as Tartine in San Francisco. I feel the same commitment from Bite putting in the effort and ingredients that results in excellent baked goods and menu items. The difference is, while Tartine's food is more rustic and "big," Bite's food feels more formal and focused. I hope Bite continues to pick up momentum - they're truly on to something really good in my opinion.

            20 Replies
            1. re: bulavinaka

              Wow! Thanks for fantastic review. I really can't wait to eat there. So far I've only had their pastries to go... the morning shift guy actually recognized me the other day... yikes! I definitely think they have the best croissant in town. I can't remember ever having a better croissant, anywhere. My office mates were looking at me funny because I kept moaning :)

              1. re: soniabegonia

                I was trying to decide this AM between trying a new place - Bite - or going to one of the tried&trues - either Pann's or Original Pancake House. Each would put me in a different direction, and Bite is right across the street from the SM Trader Joe's, where I needed to get some groceries. I don't even need this excuse for Bite in the future. It stands on its own. I hope they get the business they deserve, and this will hopefully give them the momentum to go full-swing on the rest of their menu. Thank you again for bringing Bite to our attention!

              2. re: bulavinaka

                OMG... Epic post... almost made late for my editorial meeting... I can't WAIT!!!!!!! until they open the bar portion... this has been my dream for a while... :)


                1. re: Dommy

                  I saw the owner taking a quiet break in the front corner that is cordoned off by the shelving that holds some of the functional decor. I wanted to approach her and get the 411 on her, the timeline, etc., but I thought her quiet time was more important. I really like her take on everything that I saw as well as tried. Her tastes are right up my alley, and I can't say enough about her pastries. I hope you get a chance to drop by soon - this Chowpup would be truly interested in reading the impressions of a serious hound like you.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    Aww Thanks... I figure we got a little bit once the license stuff gets straightened out and and she gets her legs in the kitchen. I've waited LONG enough for a concept like this, I can wait a little more... :)


                2. re: bulavinaka

                  We picked up the following pastries/desserts to go after our breakfast yesterday and tried them this AM:

                  Pain au chocolat: I know I shouldn't rate a day-old croissant and I should forewarn folks that this will not be the same if not properly stored. I made the mistake of leaving it in the box which also had an Ooey Gooey cinnamon bun. The additional moisture from the bun killed the once-perfect texture of the croissant pastry. I salvaged it by heating it in the toaster oven. The texture was close but not the same. The taste was awesome as the one yesterday.

                  Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Bun: As the name implies, it's ooey and gooey! Nice sticky sweet generous slather of icing that complements the bun-portion well. The bun has a nice swirl of cinnamon in it and the bun itself is toothsome and just slightly sweet, which makes for a nice balance with the icing. Truly good with my morning cuppa joe.

                  Flourless chocolate cake: Really nice glossy appearance and the garnish of candied kumquats and mint sprig is a very nice touch. While the texture is perfect - a chocolate ganache coating on a slightly firm exterior that immediately goes to a rich creamy center with some sort of nut flour - maybe almond - I didn't find it as chocolatey as I thought it would be. Considering how chocolatey everything else with chocolate was at Bite, I was sort of puzzled. I'll get another one some time just to confirm. I can see this going very well with a port or some other dessert wine.

                  Lemon Bar: A-may-zing. Nice firm bottom layer of crust that supports a very tart lemony layer that is topped off with piped on layer of lemon curd and garnished with ripe blueberries and powdered sugar. I would suggest taking a fork and knife, and cutting it into small pieces, as it's really flavorful. The best lemon slice I've ever had.

                  Bite seems to pride itself in taking things a step or two further, but in a very good way. When Elizabeth sees an opportunity to add a little more texture here (the croissants), a special garnish there (fresh herbs, berries, candied kumquats), a little more umph (that wonderful layer of piped on lemon curd), it is a measured and thought out effort. This place truly deserves a lookover by my fellow hounds...

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    bulavinaka --
                    The lemon bar...better than Euro Pane (Pasadena)?

                    I love your mention of Elizabeth's little extra efforts to add a berry here and a piped lemon curd there. Those little extra efforts speak volumes to me. It is as though the owner/chef is saying to me: "I know you will notice and appreciate these little extra touches and I get great pleasure from that; it is my passion"... or something like that! It tells me that this chef cares!
                    This happens for me in sushi bars as well. When a sushi chef puts that little bit of sea salt or yuzu paste on my fish, I know that he cares about me as a customer. For me...and you, too, it's all about these details!

                    1. re: liu

                      Liu, now you've flipped up the interest-meter on Euro Pane. I've only enjoyed a croissant and an espresso cookie there on one visit - I think it was in the afternoon after one of my visits to the Huntington. So their lemon bar was very good. I'm usually much further south and east in the general SGV area but will keep this one in my pocket.

                      I think you will appreciate Bite. I saw you posted above, and I hope you get a chance to drop in after the FM and please share your thoughts!

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Seriously, after reading all of your posts here, bulavinaka, I'm already there!

                        As I mentioned, I love places that pay attention to the details...I love places where their passion shows! I am planning a visit soon!

                        And -- yes, the lemon bars at Euro Pane are quite delicious. I would prefer the crust to be more delicate, and then it would be perfect!

                        1. re: liu

                          Hi Liu,

                          I mentioned on exilekiss's "Euro Pane" thread that I've tried and truly enjoyed Euro Pane's lemon bar. And while I personally consider it to be a well-executed pastry, I personally prefer Bite's version. And I think that is what it comes down to - personal preference.

                          Euro Pane's lemon bar should be labeled, "the wallflower LEMONY bar." It's so diminutive and unassuming in appearance. The tray of lemon bars were sitting on the bottom shelf of the case - I almost missed them. I picked up a couple and tried one of the two - POW! A mouth full of lemony goodness with a rich eggy undertone - I could actually taste egg yolks and it was as if someone was simultaneously squeezing lemons and pushing lemon zest along with just the right amount of sugar in my mouth. This version leaves no lemon unsqueezed. But on the same token, I found this to be a tad too much for me. The shortbread crust is sturdy enough to hold up to each bite - a bit on the doughy side.

                          Bite's version is lemony, tart, sweet and smooth - just a little restraint on the tartness and impact of flavor. Not as lemony (which I prefer) as Euro Pane's, but it also has two levels of lemon-ness and texture to it. This comes from the standard filling one finds in lemon bars, but also the piped-on layer of lemon curd. This not only brings a different dimension of flavor, but to mouthfeel as well. I could be blowing smoke up my own @$$, but my flavor perception of Bite's lemon bar is that it does come from these two components, but maybe it does have more to do with mouthfeel. Their crust is more fragile than Euro Pane's - I pick up a little more butter in this version. And Bite's version is very pleasing to the eyes. Again, the layer of lemon curd is pleasing, as is the garnish of fresh berries and the dusting of powdered sugar - little details in the architecture that still keep it simple yet elegant. Kinda like comparing a well-built nicely appointed Craftsman home versus a Greene & Greene home.

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            WOW! ...Hi, bulavinaka!
                            Whether this is an ode to the lemon bar or a lemon bar dissertation -- I think you have accomplished both! In my years, I have never heard the lemon bar described with such eloquence...what a masterpiece!

                            The "fragile crust" convinces me that Bite's version is the one to try. I also like your "pleasing to the eye." And then you made me laugh with your Craftsman vs. Greene & Greene...we were talking about lemon did your brain get THERE?

                            I enjoy all your posts, bulavinaka! You help to make these Chow boards so terrific!

                            1. re: liu

                              Hi Liu,

                              gee thanks... the activity and the commitment that so many hounds have makes focusing on food far more simple at first, then it takes one to another level where the little details and subtle differences begin to play into what makes the difference between great and greater, or just plain personal prefrerence. At the end of the day, it's not a matter of who's right or wrong, who really does have the best this-or-that. It's like traveling to a destination or meandering through the wonder of life in general - the journey of what makes you happy is what it's all about. :)

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                I love your spirit and your approach
                                I've never seen this as a contest and I have never chased the's all so much about having fun and personal tastes. For me, the pleasure is in the diversity and in the artistic details of all of that. Every bite is such a unique experience! Even if I were to find the perfect lemon bar bite for the moment, the next time it might be just a little different: the crowd will have changed, the temperature in the restaurant might be different, the background music will not be the same. For me, it is all of the variables coming together in such a way that makes the moment special or memorable...and I might not duplicate that the next time. So, I am very much in-the-moment present for those single awesome experiences. Each to his/her own.

                            2. re: bulavinaka

                              Hi Liu,

                              Just thought I'd mention that on my lunch visit to Bite yesterday, two exquisite lemon bars were asking about you - I'm one of those few who is fluent in citronese. :) The bars were well-coifed with the lemon curd as usual, the blueberries were perfect and I think the bars themselves have actually grown in size - too bad as I know you like them more petite in size. Looks like you'll have to ask them to cut it in half and leave the other half with my name on it. :)

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                Greetings, bulavinaka!
                                You're a kick! Seriously, though, I am touched that you thought about me and lemon bars in the same bite!
                                I couldn't get to Bite last Saturday...was at Europane enjoying some egg salad and a lemon bar...a nice yellow lunch. Their lemon bars are so good, but the base "cookie" is still too heavy for me.
                                As you know, I have yet to try Bite's bar, but when I do, I will look for you there!

                                1. re: liu

                                  He's easy to find liu........friendly smile and a big bag full of assorted croissants on the table!
                                  Just kidding friend!

                                  1. re: sel

                                    Youch - I've been exposed... will have to put pork pie hat and sunglasses on my bag of croissants next time. :)

                                    PS: I was a good boy last Sunday - only took one croissant since they only had about four left. Wasn't sure if you or Liu might be dropping in as well. :)

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      You're funny AND thoughtful, bulavinaka...a charming combo.

                      2. re: bulavinaka

                        A better croissant than Amandine? I gotta try this place!