We Went and Ate All the Pastries at Sqirl in Los Angeles


Blueberry scone [Photographs: Farley Elliott]

With its funkily-spelled name and occasional high-minded concoction, Sqirl can sometimes feel like the sort of place that gets Los Angeles put on the map for all the wrong reasons. Sure, the busy storefront space tucked away on the edge of Silver Lake is a bit whimsical, but what cramped boulevard eatery in the less tony parts of New York City couldn't claim the same attributes?

What Sqirl really is, then, is a bit of a laboratory where fresh, local produce and quality ingredients act as the basis for daily experiments from Jessica Koslow and her team. There might seem to be a bit of a learning curve at first, but her unthought-of combinations and unusual presentations are all in service to the science of great baking.

Many of her most visible laboratory successes can be found in the morning pastry case, which is more of a small, square shelf alongside the ordering counter. Despite the tight space, Koslow manages to create and display close to a dozen different options each morning, pushing out warm new items, fresh from the oven, as the day progresses.

Blueberry Scone ($3.50)

Scones are a popular morning option with the actors, freelancers, and local moms who populate Sqirl during the weekday morning buzz. It's not hard to see why; tightly-packed and well-crusted, each round is beguilingly soft and stuffed with the most recent fruit haul, like this day's blueberries (pictured above). Accompanied by soft butter and housemade raspberry jam, these treats eat more like a simple meal, as opposed to an indulgence before the main plate of eggs.

Raspberry-Rhubarb Blondie ($4.00)


Blondies are similarly sought after, mostly for their density and packed-in sweetness. We like the slightly firmed edges, the brown butter base, and the center spoonful of raspberry-rhubarb jam.

Kumquat Financier ($4.00)


Financiers come in long, thick bars that crumble as they're pulled apart. But rather than a dense, hard-packed interior, the light crumb stays moist and inviting, touched off with hazelnuts and slices of fresh kumquat. If you're looking for something sweet that pairs well with coffee, this is what you should point to inside the dense pastry case.

Citrus Pistachio Olive Oil Cake ($4.50)


Slices of the olive oil cake have much the same feel as the financiers, but in a larger, springier form. Airy slices take up nearly the entire diameter of the lovely decorative plates that hold them yet don't feel excessive when being hauled off by the forkful. Rather than radiating flavor from the inside out, these simple cakes are given a boost at the top and edges from some baked-in citrus, namely kumquat and blood orange. A dusting of chopped pistachio tops it off.

Vegan Carrot Ginger Cake ($3.00)


For both heft and density, there's the vegan carrot ginger cake, a hardcore slice of thick orange cake that is enough to weigh you down for a few hours. Without the usual rise, this cake is practically a loaf, specked throughout with thin chips of carrot and dusted with black sesame seeds.

Assorted Cookies ($2/each)


Cookies rotate in regularly, but the day's selection shown here includes a dark flour de sel option, a thin espresso chocolate chip disc, and the fresh-from-the-oven pistachio apricot up front, which has been dusted with large chunks of salt for pop.

Malva Pudding Cake ($4.00)


The consistent winner—and the sweet treat that is most ever-present on the changing Sqirl menu—is the malva cake, a warmed pudding cake that not-so-discreetly hides a buttery interior. The outside, wrapped in thin parchment, bursts at the top with a sugary crust that would be overload if it weren't so simply addictive.