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R.I.P. Bite Bar Restaurant.

m
maudies5 Dec 20, 2010 09:39 PM

Received this e-mail tonight:

.."Bite Bar & Bakery will be closed as of Monday, December 20th for the winter holidays. However, when we return in the New Year we will be introducing a new format for the space.

In short, our days as a restaurant have come to a pause and we will be refocusing on special events, event planning, private events, classes and custom catering."

I think that Elizabeth Goel is a very talented chef. For some reason, the restaurant never managed to forge a true identity and the concept changed frequently.
I wish Elizabeth much success. I think she will do very well with her revised concept,
Still, sad to see.

  1. s
    sushigirlie Dec 20, 2010 09:50 PM

    They made good croissants. I'd go in there around 8-8:30 and get a croissant. The place didn't feel right. It was dark and gloomy. It didn't seem like a place I'd want to chill and hang out. It didn't seem like a place I'd want to have a nice meal. I wasn't sure what the deal was. It was a good place to get a croissant to eat on the way to work though. Back to Le Pain du Jour after my little fling.

    1. s
      sel Dec 21, 2010 07:43 AM

      After reading Chef Elizabeth's email and fb post I was kinda numb and didn't know what to say. We had a lovely 'small plates' feast just last Saturday night and everything was just about perfect. Food and service were top notch. I had no clue that change was afoot.
      My family has grown to love her baked goods, I considered her tied with only one other bakery for best bakery in Southern Cal and amongst the top five in the Western US! One of my lads says that her croissants are his favorite, he still hasn't recovered from the loss of the biscuits at The Pines Cafe and now this! I had many good lunches followed by wonderful sweets and was able to chill during and after lunch with a friend for nearly three hours once. The dinners were great and it all will be missed!

      -----
      Bite Bar & Bakery
      3221 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

      3 Replies
      1. re: sel
        k
        kevin Dec 25, 2010 06:48 PM

        the one dinner small plates i had were really good, to the person that said it is really gloomy, yeah, maybe sorta

        and yes, these were the best chocolate croissants i heave ever had, amazing stuff, sad to sea it go. it did have a very unique personality that i can't quite put my finger on. i never did get to try the crab salad sandwich with paprika nor the turkey chili. :(

        1. re: kevin
          Funwithfood Dec 26, 2010 06:47 PM

          I've never seen you so sentimental.

          1. re: Funwithfood
            k
            kevin Dec 26, 2010 08:10 PM

            I'm sorry. From now on sentimentality will remain a thing of the past.

      2. soniabegonia Dec 21, 2010 08:00 AM

        I was saddened by the email too. The constant menu & format changes did not help... I think it confused people. Initially it was counter service, then full service, back to counter service. I didn't think it was ever a full-service kind of place - more of a grab a pastry or sandwich and coffee and hang out kind of place - like Euro Pane - or maybe that's what I selfishly envisioned for them because I wanted a Westside counterpart to Euro Pane. I think it turned many away when it became full service. I thought they had a lot going for them, especially those fantastic croissants (I will never find another like it!) and some of the lunch fare was fantastic. I found the space inviting, esp during the day when the sun was streaming in. But dinner was spotty and I also thought it was odd that they were open for dinner only 2 days a week. I think they would have done well as a happy hour hangout with their small plates. I'm really sad that I lost my favorite croissant fix. I wish them well with their new concept and maybe they can distribute those croissants through retail outlets city-wide!

        1. j
          Jase Dec 21, 2010 08:35 AM

          This is an absolute bummer. Weekend brunches there were always so nice and comfortable. The sunlight coming through giving the room an airy feel, lovely food and friendly service, it was such a great way to kick off a weekend day.

          Will also miss the dinners there, quiet and cozy a great way to end the week catching up with the wife while noshing on the various small plates. I'm going to miss that chocolate croissant bread pudding.

          I hope her pastries will be available in other retail outlets and not restricted exclusively to private catering events.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jase
            h
            happybaker Dec 21, 2010 09:42 AM

            I am so sad! I was JUST taken there for dinner a few weeks ago, fell in love and put it on my list of "places to go back to - SOON!". And had already rec'd it to more folks.

            I wish the chef very well, but I am selfishly sorry for my loss : /

          2. y
            yogachik Dec 21, 2010 11:05 AM

            So sad not to have this place to pick up mini-pies to bring to dinner parties, cookies for the office, and morning croissants.

            However, I did order my Christmas pies from them last week, for pick up on Friday, so at least this service is still available!!!

            I agree that the menu changes probably contributed to its demise. It worked best as a counter service sandwich and pastry shop, in my opinion.

            1. a
              AAQjr Dec 21, 2010 04:15 PM

              For me it was always odd to go into a place that has a reputation as a good bakery and see minimal stuff in the pastry case. And then some of the sandwiches were really good, but the bread wasnt that great. I realize they were making pastries and buying bread, but to make it work I think you need to be more like Amandine, ie. a nice pastry display, order at the cashier then sit and get served. Focus on breakfast and lunch. If they want to do dinner, they should close at two and re-open at 6-630.

              But how can you build your reputation on pastries and have a sad pastry display?! and mediocre bread. I never got it.

              15 Replies
              1. re: AAQjr
                b
                bulavinaka Dec 21, 2010 07:48 PM

                I think the pastry display had improved over the months, and we would usually go earlier in the day so we personally enjoyed the choices. As to the bread, I agree. We've had a couple of sandwiches where the bread wasn't up the our expectations. This bread outsourcing issue might have been because of the limited space alloted for their kitchen.

                I think Elizabeth was quite ambitious on one hand, and a cautious perfectionist on the other. The slow soft opening seemed very calculated and was working in my opinion, but the dinner thing might have been too much, given the type of menu and that it was only on the weekends. I'd think that this was quite taxing on the operation. I was hoping that they'd work the "bar" aspect more, and eventually go in the direction of a gastropub, but after considering how their bakery-part might conflict with this, I'd personally rather have the bakery myself. It's too bad that we will have to find some other place to put into our rotation. We really liked Bite. :(

                1. re: bulavinaka
                  m
                  maudies5 Dec 21, 2010 09:02 PM

                  A very thoughtful assessment, bulavinaka:
                  I loved Bite Bar When the chicken salad sandwich was recommended, I agreed it was great. There was so much I loved about Bite. .

                  1. re: maudies5
                    b
                    bulavinaka Dec 21, 2010 09:54 PM

                    Hi maudies5, I think you and I are part of the Bite fan club. I am hoping that as Elizabeth settles into a new business plan, that she might consider offering at least baked goods to the public. She has the counter and refrigerated case set up for it - I can easily see her offering her overruns and maybe even new experimental items to the public, or at least to those on her email list. I'd love to be able to drop by, say on the weekends, to fill up on her goods. Who knows - maybe someone will encourage her to even offer her goods at a few select farmers markets around the Westside - I'd be first in line...

                    1. re: bulavinaka
                      j
                      Jase Dec 22, 2010 07:00 AM

                      Mar Vista Sunday Famer's market, Mar Vista Sunday Famer's market, Mar Vista Sunday Famer's market, Mar Vista Sunday Famer's market.

                      If she did that, between her, Homeboy bakery and Sugar Jones once a month appearance, we would have our bakery needs easily met.

                      1. re: bulavinaka
                        k
                        kevin Dec 25, 2010 06:52 PM

                        farmer's market is not a bad idea,

                        but she did say ion the email that they would be doing special events, and catering, etc.

                        but yeah, that does not work for people like me who would love to drop in for a chocolate croissant and a cappy.

                  2. re: AAQjr
                    Funwithfood Dec 22, 2010 08:39 PM

                    AAQjr's assessment is a good one......"For me it was always odd to go into a place that has a reputation as a good bakery and see minimal stuff in the pastry case." & "But how can you build your reputation on pastries and have a sad pastry display?"

                    I went just once and found myself confused. Very few pastries, very few items on the menu.

                    What's most puzzling is how they didn't do well with all the raves here on CH.

                    1. re: Funwithfood
                      m
                      maudies5 Dec 22, 2010 09:22 PM

                      I still maintain that Bite never quite found its footing. Initially, it was a breakfast bakery with amazing croissants. Then, breakfast ceased. Then, focus was on lunch from 11-3. I think that the original concept of early morning bakery with great breakfast pastries was good. Lunch service was spotty. Dinner service 2 nts a week was too ambitious. I spoke to someone recently who has been in the restaurant business for years and years. He said that too many folks who are great maitre'd's fail as restaurant managers because they don't know how to run a restaurant. In this case, I think that Elizabeth is a brilliant chef/baker who had a tough time learning the restaurant business. In any case, she is a sweet person and I wish her success in her future endeavors and hope she shares some of her recipes.:)

                      1. re: maudies5
                        a
                        AAQjr Dec 23, 2010 01:06 AM

                        I went in a few times and didn't see many pastries. They were never a bakery. Or at least never appeared to be and appearance is everything. They were a lunch place that had pastries. Weather they wanted to be or not.

                        1. re: AAQjr
                          z
                          ZoeZ Dec 23, 2010 09:37 AM

                          Gloomy atmosphere and gloomy wait staff didn't help either. Not worth a second visit.

                          1. re: ZoeZ
                            j
                            Jase Dec 27, 2010 07:38 AM

                            I don't get these complaints about the place and staff being gloomy. It's just so different from every single visit I ever had. Every time I went there, the staff was always cheerful and helpful. Whether it was morning, early afternoon or dinner service. At night, I found it dark but nicely lit for the tables and certainly I never had to break out my flashlight app to read the menu. During the daytime, the sunlight coming through always made the place seem cheery enough to me.

                            Just so weird that I had such a different experience. Heck, I found Wurstkuche a lot gloomier than Bite Bar and everyone seems to rave about Wurstkuche's atmosphere.

                            -----
                            Wurstkuche
                            800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                            1. re: Jase
                              s
                              sel Dec 27, 2010 08:54 AM

                              Agree 100%! Great bakery fare, good food and a low key but friendly and helpful staff headed by an involved chef/owner. I wish Chef Elizabeth well with whatever she does with her business and hope that whatever the new format that I will be able to still enjoy her offerings!

                              -----
                              Bite Bar & Bakery
                              3221 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

                              1. re: Jase
                                k
                                kevin Dec 27, 2010 08:56 AM

                                I'm not one of the ones that are hating on it for being dark.

                                but in their mindset, the rational could be that a bakery should be light, airy, and cheery.

                                but a beer bar, a tectonic, german beer bar with german sausages should be dark by it's very nature on the other hand.

                                1. re: kevin
                                  j
                                  Jase Dec 27, 2010 10:47 AM

                                  I agree about different places and different mindset. But in this case I was drawing a distinction between gloomy and dark. A place can be dark but still have a good vibe, dive bar, beer hall, etc. Alternately a pace can be well lit but still gloomy.

                                  But what do I know? That's just my take. I was always happy with the atmosphere and service of the Inglewood location of Marisco Chente when Sergio was still there while many people found that place dark and service inattentive. Now I find their current atmosphere with the fluorescent lighting annoying and grating. I don't find it as welcoming as before when they had less lights and relaxed service.

                                  <shrug> different strokes for different folks.

                                  -----
                                  Marisco's
                                  718 S San Jacinto Ave, San Jacinto, CA 92583

                                2. re: Jase
                                  b
                                  bulavinaka Dec 27, 2010 10:30 AM

                                  I'm right there with Jase. Everyone's got their own perspective on ambiance and things that feed into it, e.g., light, mood, etc., but with the front facing pretty much to the south, the morning to mid-afternoon light reflects indirectly into the the dining area. This combined with the awning gives a nice even lighting to the interior, avoiding glare, heat, etc. I think for those who found it gloomy would probably benefit from a place located on a northeast corner, but personally I'd find that kind of natural lighting to be overbearing.

                                  The folks there have always been cordial - not hovering over us - just cordial and helpful when needed - that's all I ever want and expect. High energy cheerleader/frat boy types can be found elsewhere at the more corporate/high turnover places - not my kinda place or service profile...

                              2. re: AAQjr
                                a
                                AAQjr Dec 23, 2010 09:59 AM

                                I'm not trying to bash them we could use more good places. They just need to narrow the focus of their concept and really sell it.

                        2. n
                          New Trial Dec 22, 2010 12:14 AM

                          Sic transit gloria Pico.

                          1. aching Dec 23, 2010 11:46 AM

                            This is sad news - Bite Bar was a nice place. That said, I work just a few blocks away, and I only went twice. For me, the pace of the lunch service was just too slow to make it a really good weekday alternative - and it wasn't convenient for me to go on the weekends. I enjoyed the food I had there, but it wasn't so extraordinary as to compel me to go back often.

                            I wonder also if there is a problem with the location, as I thought Violet (Bite's predecessor) was very good, but it also ultimately couldn't make a go of it. I never had a problem finding parking, but I imagine some people were turned off by only having street parking. Or perhaps the owner of the building charges very high rent?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: aching
                              k
                              kevin Dec 25, 2010 06:54 PM

                              there on pico might be a tough spot. neither the santa monica crowd nor the west la crowd. prices were about right, maybe some to expensive for a frequent neighborhood joint,

                              but oh, those croissnats were amazing, though maybe there were a tad bit expensive at 3 $ a pop.

                              1. re: kevin
                                m
                                maudies5 Dec 26, 2010 07:56 PM

                                Makes me think that Piero Selvaggio was a true visionary when he opened Valentino about 35 + years ago on that barren stretch of Pico. I think if one has an extraordinary product, good P.R. an amazing work ethic, passion and (in Piero's case; charm). you have a real shot at success.

                                1. re: maudies5
                                  k
                                  kevin Dec 26, 2010 08:09 PM

                                  Darn it. I meant to end with the proviso that Valentino has not only survived in that stretch but actually thrived since the mid 1970s.

                                  1. re: kevin
                                    m
                                    maudies5 Dec 26, 2010 08:28 PM

                                    Further proof that great minds think alike.:)

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