Interesting posts! I have to say, I think atmosphere is very subjective, and I tend to fall in the modernist category. so for me--City Bakery is cool precisely because it is unlike other places you find in Brentwood. And, I can usually find free parking in the lot. The Mart is trying to go super-upscale and this is obviously part of their plan to grab some more attention for this quaint little collection of businesses--anchoring with something homey like Marmalade or Coral Tree...what would be the point? I do hate that the American Heart Assoc (Cancer Assoc?) got squeezed out--man, I could get GREAT cashmere sweaters that the Ladies Up The Hill discarded every season. But I digress. Still like City Bakery and don't mind paying :)....ok I will concede that I think they have some temperature problems with their buffet items.....best to order from the grill.
I completely agree, CityBakery has NO atmosphere. That's really the main deal that pulls people into cafes... whether they feel warm and invited into the place. CityBakery felt more like the cafeteria at Ikea.
BUT! I am still planning to drop in every now and then because the BAKER'S MUFFIN is unique and delicious. Definitely worth the trip. I've never had anything quite like it... not too sweet, great balance of crunch and soft.
(I tried to get the recipe from the SOS column at the L.A. Times, but apparently they refuse to give out any of their recipes!)
I was there today and it was a GHOST TOWN!!! About six workers behind the counters looking ptiful. One can only tolerate so many blueberry corn muffins/pretzel crossants/sixteen dollars a pound food. They have NO variety, and their prices are criminal. When they first opened, I was literally there every day, but too many things went very wrong.
I am certain this place is on the way out. Bring back MarJams from 12 years ago!
Here are a couple caveats and notes:
This joint is majorly overpriced in general.
But at $3.50 a pop, the pretzel croissant is good though not great. So some might not believe it to be a fleecing. And a whole wheat croissant is pretty darn unique even given for LA, with all the health nut trendoids.
Beware of the hot chocolate. I asked for a cup and it was $4.50 for about a 6 oz. cup, and that was considered the large, Stupidly I didn't check the prices on the hot chocolate nor the sizes, because they do have a tiny, snifter, like a shot glass size for about 2 bucks. That's the better way to go. So you can find out if it's actually any good.
But the hot chocolate is terrible, it's very rich not very tasty, i'd compared it to chocolate filth (it reminded me of the stuff starbucks' used to serve in also a tiny cup, like espresso size since it was so rich, it was not good either, but if you do like molten chocolate cake filling, the part that oozes out you might just like it).
A couple things that might be decently priced, though still not cheap (if the quality is good though i haven't tried it):
A salmon burger at 16 bucks
Crab cakes at 18 bucks.
oh, and a possible deal:
$5 for a Niman ranch all beef hot dog with all the fixin's (i presume fries or chips don't come with it though), this dog is on my to try list.
We were there this past weekend just before closing time. I had the crab cake, which was a nearly hamburger-sized panfried patty of almost pure crab meat (a tad salty though), served with a mild mustard and saltine crackers on the side. The thinking there being we let the customer add the filler at their discretion. mr creosote had a chicken, gruyere (IIRC), and sauteed onion pressed sandwich. Tasty, but could have been warmer. Perfect minty iced tea. I like the pretzel croissant but the molten chocolate cookie is way too sweet for my tastes. We've enjoyed good egg and bacon breakfasts there in the past and I sorta like the
'chocolate filth" thick hot chocolate (lol). Although it seems that hounds have called out the grim reaper on the place, I hope to sample at least one of their tarts before they pull the plug.
I really can't disagree more. I think this place rocks! I love the clean minimal vibe and I love sitting at the counter. It's expensive, yes, but for what you get? I think not. Maybe you have to get the carmelized french toast. I fantasize about it. It's absolutely the best french toast I have ever put in my mouth--two huge rectangular slices (nearly 2" thick and 8-9" long) of creamy thick bread (brioche, my boyfriend says), carmelized on all sides, and served with maple syrup on the side. I was there on a weekend recently (2 weekends in a row actually, and it was fairly busy both times) and people at the next 2 tables asked us about the french toast we were having. It's really that good. Coffee is good but not great. Juice is obviously fresh-squeezed. It's also the perfect place to stop by if you want to pack a quick picnic for the beach--so easy. If you went when it first opened---go back and give it another chance!
You must realize that all the other posts are around 2 months old, and yours about 37 minutes ago. They may have done much to change things in those two months, and some may need to return to re-test their original opinions, as the NYC success is very different from the Brentwood version.
Visited on a Saturday, and it was reasonably busy, though not jammed. Full of the local natives: wealthy Westsiders and their kids. I can see it being deserted on a weekday; too far away from a good supply of office workers. One thing that was crowded was the parking lot.
Food was tasty, but ridiculously overpriced. You can't get away with charging so much for cafeteria style food. $14 a pound for the buffet.
I had heard a lot about the pretzel croissant. It was quite good, though not really much different than a regular croissant, basically a croissant with salt on it. Excellent texture and freshness, though. At $3, it wasn't really too overpriced, nor was the chocolate chip cookie I had, which was delicious.
There is also a small counter where you can order even more overpriced items, such as latkes for $9, or a sandwich for $18.
I don't think the modern vibe of the place fits in with the other shops in this little market. There is indeed too much open space. Vast stretches of open, unused countertops.
Was there yesterday, very weird vibe. It was empty
(around 2 PM), with only a few savory items out (languishing mac and cheese) and the usual baked goods. For a space that big nearly empty (food and people wise) I can envision their demise, when much lower-overhead Urth cafe with baked goods that is packed all hours of the day...