There’s a new place in my ‘hood that’s so delicious and happiness-inducing that I want to pound on all my neighbor’s doors and tell them to hurry down and support this business. Now.
Friends, meet Vivienne Kitchen and Pantry.
It’s located right next to the endearing Hollywood Theater and I’ve been eagerly awaiting this cafe to open.
Peeking in, I could tell from the lovely signage, clean Scandinavian lines and charming seersucker curtains that someone creative was fully awake at the wheel.
It’s been open just a month, and two days ago I went with a neighborhood pal to check it out.
First off, let me give you a peak inside.
It’s so charming — sparkling clean with fresh white paint, high ceilings and fantastic vintage pieces from owner Robin’s personal collection.
There’s so much personality packed in such a little space — it’s like being invited over to a friend’s light-filled loft.
A friend who places cut flowers and plants everywhere you look
and displays the vintage pieces you wish you’d found first.
Okay, let’s move on to the menu.
Right now the place is open just 9-2, Tuesday-Sunday, with a small breakfast and lunch menu (plus sweets from Roman Candle).
Look at the self-serve counter featuring Extracto Coffee.
Like everything here, each and every detail is deliberately thought out and handsomely delivered (and it turns out that this sugar cube topped blue enamel tray is from Grand Marketplace, the spot I profiled in my last post).
That same philosophy applies to the food.
On initial glimpse you might think that the simplicity of the menu is uninspired, but as my friend Mary Ann pointed out after she was there earlier in the week: “Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to take the simplest food and perfect that.”
She’s right; when you aren’t throwing a lot of ingredients or twists in a dish, it’s all about the caliber of ingredients, the execution of perfect timing, and nailing the balance of flavors.
There’s no novelty to hide behind — just make or break time.
And Robin (owner/chef) isn’t just making it, she’s crushing it.
Take the Smashed Chickpeas Sandwich.
Been there, done that, right?
Amazing Ciabatta, chickpeas, arugula, chopped Italian olives, Mama Lil’s peppers and a tarragon aioli.
It was heavenly.
No less delicious was the Tuna Conserva Salad.
Robin starts with making her own Conserva– a rich confit-like stewed tuna that results in intensely flavorful and flaky fish (and hers was graced with a lemony brightness).
She then adds it to a beautiful Nicoise salad.
Everything on this plate was perfection; the pickled onions, the deftly poached eggs, the roasted asparagus, the lightly dressed arugula, Yukon Gold potatoes and that insanely flavorful fish.
Experienced cooks realize that mastering each element of this salad is no small feat; the difference between under-or over cooked eggs or asparagus is a minute or two apart and seasoning food to its utmost (without over-salting) is a learned skill (and perhaps a touch of intuition, as well).
We finished the meal with a few of the Roman Candle cookies seen here (fantastic oatmeal creme sandwich and chocolate chip) and I was already plotting my return.
The owner says that she hopes to soon add some evening hours on the weekend; this is a smart move for Vivienne as the movie theater is a huge draw and they’re surprisingly few delicious and affordable places to eat nearby.
Until that happens, find me at the table in front, basking in the early morning glory of those promised breakfast sandwiches…
Brie, Proscuitto, greens, aioli and an egg, anyone?