At Twist Eatery, the new bakery café that opened on La Brea Boulevard this past Monday, the menu covers Morocco, California and the Mediterranean, in the form of sandwiches, bowls and salads. The mix of influences is a map of owner Joelle Bercovitch's upbringing.
"I'm from several different places and backgrounds, so all those different countries have influenced the way I bake and the way I cook. I was born in Morocco, then I lived in Montreal for quite a long time. My parents have a French and Spanish background," Bercovitch says. "I'm also an American at heart. I love comfort food, hearty dishes, and baked goods like carrot cake. I've combined all this into a lot of my recipes. That's how I came up with the name."
Bercovitch brought in Anna Statman, who previously owned Towne & Country Cafe in Silver Lake, as chef de cuisine to help her develop the menu. Together, they're putting together options, such as a Tunisian tuna sandwich with black olives, preserved lemons, and Harissa mayo, as well as a chicken couscous bowl seasoned with the North African spice blend ras el hanout.
"We have a whole display case of salads that can be served as a single, duo or trio. These are hearty, but healthy dishes," Bercovitch says. Among the entree salads and bowls, the Thai noodle salad and the salmon bowl with lentils and quinoa have so far been visitor favorites.
As a baker, Bercovitch is mostly self-taught. Her mother and grandmother are known as great family cooks who don't bake, prompting the chef to pick up ways to satisfy her sweet tooth. Bercovitch's twist top -- mini cakes filled in the middle with dessert cream -- is a recipe inspired by a trip to Paris where she had a similar pastry. She decided to make her version more in tune with American favorites, a preferred approach for the self-described homey baker. The flavors come in a range: carrot cake, dulce de leche, fudgy chocolate chocolate, lemon curd and banana chocolate chip.
Bercovitch, who moved out to Los Angeles in 1987, intends for Twist Eatery to be a meeting place for locals, friendly to families and professionals working nearby.
"I've always dreamt of owning a neighborhood cafe, because growing up in Montreal we had little neighborhoods and we always formed a community around it."
Twist Eatery is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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