On your way out of Corina Weibel's Atwater Village restaurant, Canelé, after a dinner of lamb stew and pissaladiere, maybe, you will be given a little gift, in the tradition of mignardise: a smaller-than-usual canelé, one of the pretty Bordelaise cakes from which the restaurant takes its name. Weibel will be the first to admit that her canelés are not a perfect example of the form: they are not made in the traditional method, copper tins painted with beeswax, and they are certainly not on par with Sumi Chang's outstanding canelés at Euro Pane. But, as Weibel will also tell you, that is not really the point.
Because Canelé's canelés are metaphorical cakes as much as they are actual pastries. They represent the good will and neighborliness of the restaurant, which does not take reservations, which is built around the large, wooden communal table, and which regularly lets non-professionals cook dinner during Friends Cook nights. Weibel's canelés can be a bit leathery, often misshapen, sometimes listing one way or the other, like dinner companions after a few hours at the bar. And as such they represent the beautiful qualities of the restaurant far more than repeating rows of perfectly formed cakes ever would. They are also just the thing to eat while you're trying to find your car.
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Canelé: 3219 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles. (323) 666-7133.