Food & Pricing: Eh, fair for the food, no doubts on that… But do not expect a greasy spoon priced breakfast either – remember you get what you pay for folks! Keep in mind however, after waiting in line, after walking to the eatery from where you parked in the heat; a perfectly brewed and lightly grassy glass of Sencha tea is 4.00 no refills. You wait in line for refills….. WORTH IT!
Parking: I do not visit Cali much, so I cannot at all speak for a native; but if this is new to you at all, parking at Sqirl, expect a good amount of circling (maybe 20 min +) of “What fresh hell is this?” No parking lot; very limited street parking expect see a lot of signs saying permanent resident only or street cleaning on the day and time you are there. Again, just get it done, totally worth it and no one likes a whiner.
Patio: Oh it is there, fo sho, I sat on it. – Do not expect it to be lined with lemon trees, pergola, and smiles. It a basic get the job done kind of area- Enjoy the great food/drink and passing traffic.
Service and Cleanliness: It is counter service. A big part of the line is a staff member at the door controlling the amount of people entering and ordering vs available tables and kitchen availability to ticket times. – Non-Industry consumers may not appreciate this process right away, but it is appropriately well done. – No cleanliness issues to note.
Take out: I am sure that they offer it, I just happened to have not taken anything to go.
Now on to the Review:
Soooo for our one actual day in Cali we landed and went straight to Sqirl after getting our Jeep on. – I’ve had the honor of working at eateries that have housed master chefs during an almost 20 year tenure hospitality career representing some of Texas’s best; and Sqirl may be one of the best meals of my life… Damn you LAX, Vegas is my second home, and the drive between the two really sucks, but now I will no longer be able to have the one with out the other when I visit my beloved Vegas. – I am going to have to find a way to get to Sqirl next time I am on the West Coast for sure.
After you have parked and trekked out to the restaurant, expect a line of healthy and hipper people than you if you are from Texas. (Okay fine, hipper and healthier compared to me) – Even though they had not been open long for the day, the place was hoppin. The line moves quicker than you would think and well worth the work.
Eventually you make it up to the register and this display case of interesting goodies, house jams line the bottom (should have totally bought one), vegan and non vegan desserts, some with interesting ingredients such as fermented honey + fig or a cake with an orange curd topping. – We were planning on trying the oh so popular toast with Ricotta and Jam so we passed on the display case items. (This time, next time I am going in)
The menu is quite large and everything sounds amazing, if you look at Yelp and such the Sorrel Rice seems to be on of the most popular dishes, but I opted for the Kohlrabi Schnitzel on the Specials Board and Josh opted for a Flat Tot. – As a vegetarian really trying to go vegan, it is rare that a “Specials” board in Texas has anything for me on it, but here I wanted it all!
Here is our 4.00 / No refills glass of Sencha tea. – They offer to help you stretch it a little by giving you light ice and putting some extra in small glass on the side. It was a challenge not to drink it immediately and not have a bit of tea left to wash down the food. – It really was perfectly brewed and tasted exactly like a great Sencha tea should so I cannot complain I guess, but I am used to being able to have more than one glass per order of tea. – And if you think paper straws are annoyingly popping up everywhere in Texas, you can really not expect a plastic straw in the West Coast area. (Same with plastic and even paper bags when leaving a pharmacy or grocer. – It is normal there to have to buy or bag or just not receive one at all, but it still feels foreign to me to not be able to double or triple bag my wares without a second thought. And I am not sure lugging my own shopping bags around will be something I ever get used to personally. Saving the earth matters though, so thank you Cali for doing your part.)
Above is what Josh ordered, the V2 “Flat Tot”- w/o the optional Egg. It is GF with a vegan version if needed, vegetarian if not specified I believe. – Shredded Weiser Potato & chickpea flour tot served with a smoked Marcona almond chive schmear and market veg marinated in preserved meyer lemon marash chili vinaigrette – $12.00
It was delicious, Josh hates vegetarian food, but dining at Sqirl actually had him open to going Veggie a few days on the trip. – I have lived with this man for over 16 years and that was a happy surprise for me, so thank you Sqirl! – There was so much flavor and perfectly balanced. Unique in any circumstance based on the ingredients themselves, but particularly for a potato based breakfast dish. It was honestly even a bit on the light and refreshing side!
Above is what I ordered, from the Specials Board – “Kohlrabi Schnitzel”- Vegetarian for sure, not 100 on if it can be vegan/gf. – Roots Kohlrabi, Corn Spaetzle, S&P Cucumber, Hot Peach Mustard, Fennel Pollen, Horseradish – $14.00
Um WOW! This was delicious, maybe the best thing that I have eaten! Seriously. The light taste of anisette and just the right amount of acid dancing around the plate, that perfectly lightly pickled cucumber. The Kohlrabi used as schnitzel was a genius thought, I love that they found such a great was to utilize this under appreciated veggie. The Corn Spaetzle was a dreamy counterpoint to the bolder flavors and crispy outer texture of the Kohlrabi.
Last up was the Famed Ricotta Toast – Brioche toast w/ house ricotta,
seasonal jam (v) 9, Make it a rainbow Add 1 – Worth the buck to make it a Rainbow totaling $10.00
Um, if your diet allows gluten and dairy, and sugar and high fat (I know poison) get the damn thing. I cannot remember the flavors, of the jams that day, on the exotic side I am sure. All 3 were delicious, and just look at how delicious that jam is working it on that toast.
The Brioche, perfectly on point. The ricotta was a puffy cloud of wonder, the lightest in flavor, giving the jam something to be painted onto with the brioche as the frame. I can see why this demon toast if famed for sure. – We had never received it, likely just did not get pushed or something and we were done eating, so Josh went in and asked. – I told him to cancel it if he wanted as I was pretty full, but he was not having it. A short time later the toast hit the table and I am so glad it did.
We enjoyed some of the local art and shrub sized Jade trees and other succulents. Everyone uses them, but I am not used to seeing them in front yards grown to this size. – Same with Lantana, the use of it is prolific here in Houston, but it was everywhere in Cali and quite huge. I loved all the delicate flowers of so many colors between those awesome succulent gardens.
This was “Day One” as we got in to LAX, prior to heading to the beach and park later, still bloated and full in the best way. – Going to Sqirl was a great way to start it. The area of town is nothing to brag about, and there are a few other unavoidable cons such as the line and parking, but either way I cannot wait to go back.