Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I finally meandered over to Silver Lake to experience the much talked about coffee boutique, LAMILL (pronounced lah-mill). This is not, let me repeat NOT, your average, cater to the masses, grab your daily cup o' Joe and go coffee shop. No ladies and gentlemen, LAMILL takes the art of coffee to a pristine new level. Their caffeinated concoctions have been carefully calculated, formulated and are ever so thoughtfully constructed right before your eyes. This is a place to visit when you want to indulge in a divine brunch and linger over ridiculously decadent coffee that you’ll crave for the rest of the week. If I lived in Silver Lake, this spot would become part of my lazy Sunday morning ritual.

At first I was curious … why didn’t this opulent coffee palace open somewhere chichi like Beverly Hills? Why boho-chic Silver Lake? This seems to be an ongoing blog debate. My 2 cents? I think it’s the distinctive artsy types, the gastronomic gurus, the “French palate” patrons who will truly recognize and appreciate the quirky artistry occurring daily at LAMILL … and those people are found in neighborhoods like Silver Lake. In BH, people would have given this fantastic establishment plenty of business without scoffing at the $5 latte, but I live in Beverly Hills and let me tell you, a restaurant does not have to serve high quality food to be a success in the 90210 area code. (Not always, but often, BH diners are far more concerned with who is eating at the restaurant than with how the food actually tastes i.e. the Farm of Beverly Hills, Il Pastaio, and Mr. Chow.) Silver Lake is unusual as is LAMILL and I think they compliment each other.

When you walk in, there’s a tempting pastry case filled with scones, muffins, croissants, etc. Before we even sat down my boyfriend ordered a canele to be sent to the table. The two room restaurant was bustling with people high on platinum caffeine. The eccentric décor almost out shines the coffee … almost.

Color scheme: gold brass, deep teal, robin egg blue, grey black and blood red. Picture custom French wall paper depicting mythological scenes and vintage chairs covered in exotic, vinyl animal skin such as ostrich and crocodile. It’s anything but boring and somehow sets the right mood for coffee chemistry. Sitting at our window-side table for two, we perused the bible of a beverage menu and munched on the incredible canele. The outside was terrifically crunchy with a soft, creamy center similar to vanilla bread pudding.

We wanted to try the coffee spheres, but were told they were still in the creation phase and not yet available. (I felt like I was in Willy Wonka’s Coffee Factory.) As alluring as the “Jelly Doughnut Coffee Drink” sounded, we both ordered our usual, café au lait with skim milk, just to test this $5 version against the hundreds we’ve had elsewhere. Derrek wanted to add house made chocolate sauce and real whipped cream to his au lait. Uh oh! Order something not listed on the menu? Confusion ensued. Our very patient, sweet waitress summoned a guy in charge of coffee creation and he kindly explained that their drinks are made from precise recipes with exact ratios of milk to coffee etc. (BTW there was no attitude while explaining why they are so particular about the drinks … each person was gracious and sincere.) Much to my surprise, he finally agreed to bring the chocolate sauce and whipped cream on the side. Both were devastatingly delicious and the chocolate sauce was far closer to a velvety ganache.

To achieve the perfect 50/50 ratio that makes up a café au lait (half drip coffee, half steamed milk) the coffee creator poured both the coffee and milk simultaneously, into the cup, table side. Necessary? Nope. Elaborate, indulgent, and fun? Absolutely! My café au lait was smooth and creamy with no trace of burnt beans whatsoever. At LAMILL, the coffee is not pre-made. Each cup is brewed as it is ordered. Can you say FRESH? My only qualm was that by the time everything was poured, admired, and sugared, the beverage had lost that piping hot quality.

Knowing the menu was created by the esteemed Chef Michael Cimarusti of Providence, I was equally excited for the food. I ordered baked eggs that arrive with a sinfully generous amount of fresh crab meat on top, accompanied by perfectly crisp, perfectly buttered, toast. (Perfection is the predominant theme if you’ve not noticed.) The dish was sprinkled with chives which I assumed were just a garnish, but they added a piquant flavor profile to my already heavenly breakfast.

Derrek opted for scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, asparagus, and chives … a sumptuous display of simplicity at it’s finest. I floated out of LAMILL feeling blissful and content, with a sheer appreciation for the effort put forth to create a superior coffee+food experience in Los Angeles. (I did return weeks later. The “kinda like crème brulee” banana dessert was average at best but the liquid center lollipops are luscious).

La Marzocco espresso machine
$11,000 Clover coffee machine that brews single cups to order
Siphon tableside coffee service (popular in Japan)
Food as exquisite as the coffee
Similarities to Starbucks: ZERO … thankfully
Serves room temperature water (more easily absorbed)

1636 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Closed Monday

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