You can say that Valerie Gordon and Stan Weightman Jr. have had a banner year thus far with the expansion of their gourmet goods business, beginning with the set-up of a stall inside Grand Central Market in May. More recently, they added a new corner café called Valerie Echo Park, which opened its doors to the neighborhood yesterday, Aug. 1. According to Gordon, its hours currently are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday; they'll expand them over the next three to six weeks, eventually adding Tuesday and Monday to the schedule as well.
Currently at the café there's a savory menu of seasonal sandwiches and salads alongside loose-leaf teas, pastries, tea cakes, chocolates and preserves. Also available are soft-scrambled eggs with creme fraiche and herbs, onion marmalade galette with salad and a baby kale salad with pickled daikon, avocado and black sesame seeds.
"Our menu will be expanding quite a bit. We'll be adding many more savory items, including hot items. That menu will probably double in the next month or two," Gordon says.
The menu will stay seasonal, changing from month to month. "As we do with our pastries, we get all of our produce from the farmers market," Gordon told us. "The food at Valerie Echo Park is really the savory side of Valerie Confections. I've been doing a lot of these recipes for a long time, catering for special events and things like that. It's sort of the next step for Valerie Confections."
According to Gordon, Valerie Grand Central Market is an offshoot. "That menu was put together specifically for the location. The idea was to marry the history of the market with something contemporary." The pair wanted to bring back beloved old recipes with both savory and sweet dishes, concertedly putting forth a menu that would respect "great, simple American coffee shop fare."
Gordon and Weightman wanted to make their café family-friendly, evident in the sturdy outdoor furniture set up both inside the café and outside on the covered patio. "We've fallen in love with the neighborhood," Gordon says. "It feels like we've been here for a while. Everybody has been so welcoming. It's been thrilling. All day yesterday people have been walking in and telling us how excited they were that we're there."
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