If your experience of Red Bread, the small-batch bakery started by Rose Lawrence and her husband a few years ago, has been limited to their farmers market stall or their pretty awesome bike delivery service, then you haven't been spending enough time in the far western quadrant of Culver City. Although Red Bread started delivering bread by bike in 2010 and selling at the Santa Monica farmers market shortly thereafter, the tiny bakery and café has only been open since July 2013, and only for relatively limited hours.
Starting today, May 12, they've extended those hours from Thursday through Monday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Which means that you can now get Lawrence's bread more often, but also experience the joy that is the tiny shop and café. Originally an equally tiny dress shop, Red Bread's cafe is a small dining space – the actual bakery is around the corner – composed of one large wooden communal table with 10 boxy stools (under an umbrella chandelier) in front of a little kitchen, plus a few places to sit outside under the palm tree. ]
Because although Red Bread's actual breads are outstanding, the stuff they make in the kitchen is itself worth the drive down Washington Boulevard from wherever you are now.
For such a tiny space, there's a LOT of stuff on offer on the chalkboard walls: a black hash with pan-fried black bread, asparagus and fried egg; sourdough pancakes with dandelion greens, fried eggs and house-fermented hot sauce; Tibetan roasted barley porridge with raw yogurt and strawberries; bison tartare (yes, bison) with duck egg and sourdough crisps; house-cured gravlax on rye with preserved lemons; buttermilk soup with blackberries and hot biscuits; a simple slice of sourdough with salt, raw butter and radishes.
And then there are the trays of things at the counter: raw buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk-strawberry-yogurt muffins, strawberry-basil pop tarts, fig jam bars and slices of French toast pie. There's pour-over coffee from Wise coffee. And, if you needed to feel even better about yourself than you already will after a Nordic breakfast of buttermilk soup, 5% of all sales go to L.A. Food Bank.
All the baked goods are made with natural levain (no commercial yeast), including the muffins, bagels and challah. The breads are on the shop's shelves from Thursday through Sunday (and soon Monday); and Red Bread's challah is in the shop on Fridays. And if you ask nicely, Rose Lawrence might give you some of her dehydrated sourdough starter to take with you when you go, to make your own jar at home. Although if you live anywhere near Red Bread, you'll probably just come back there instead.