Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4), we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
53: The Sycamore Kitchen's Double BLT-A Sandwich.
Quinn and Karen Hatfield's newish casual place on La Brea, The Sycamore Kitchen, is an exercise in incommensurateness, albeit a very L.A. one. It is a breakfast and lunch place with valet parking. The outdoor patio has an almost picnic-table feel to it, yet there you are on busy La Brea Ave., hardly the most pastoral place in town. You order at the counter and take a number, yet the plate that arrives at your table may be filled with pastries that wouldn't be out of place at the most sedate of Parisian pâtisseries, or a constructed salad that could be equally at home at Hatfield's, the couple's fine dining palace on Melrose -- where the chefs in the open kitchen actually wear toques.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the sandwiches at The Sycamore Kitchen are, well, more than ordinary sandwiches. The BLT is a creation that most of us take for granted on a lunch menu; like an order of omelet-and-hash-browns at a diner, it's there because it should be, a reminder that, despite a turbulent world, the ordinary machinery still works.
The Sycamore Kitchen's BLT, called a Double BLT-A, is also a reminder that, in the hands of excellent chefs, a sandwich can be a very hands-on experience, so to speak -- both for them and for you. The bread is made in Karen Hatfield's excellent pastry kitchen, not a sourdough exactly but a bread built simply with levain and good flour and technique. There is not only bacon, but pork belly -- an ingredient on too many menus in this Era of the Gastropub, but in this case exactly where it should be.
There are slices of avocado and perfectly ripe tomatos -- both in season -- and supple leaves of butter lettuce. There is also a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar, which is what puts this sandwich in a different ontological category. Why vinegar? Because Karen Hatfield loves it. Because balsamic vinegar and tomatoes are a sublime combination. And because the vinegar's acidity keeps the utter richness of the other components from becoming overwhelming. Oh, and it looks pretty too. Which is to say that this sandwich is to the ordinary BLT what, perhaps, a Wes Anderson film is to a normal family movie.
Check out the rest of our 100 of our favorite dishes. Suggestion? Write us a comment.
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