Jessica Kuslow: Word of Mouth
Close your eyes. Picture a pesto rice bowl with sheep’s feta and lacto-fermented hot sauce. Seared polenta with spring vegetables and greens. Sounds like a dinner menu, right? In fact, it’s brunch a la Sqirl, the restaurant at the corner of Virgil and Marathon, which has taken the Silver Lake food scene by storm. Despite its small sign on the door, Sqirl has had a giant impact on the way we think about our first meal of the day and it has ushered in a new generation of California cuisine.
The thing about many restaurants is that they live or die by word of mouth. In Sqirl’s case, a constant line out the door and around the corner on the weekends means the restaurant is thriving. Their signature jams have spoiled me so much that I cannot imagine eating anything else in the morning. I am not even going to tell you which flavor I like best for fear that it will sell out. The only upside of waiting in line to get my monthly jar of jam is that it has given me a chance to hear all about the past and future of this place.
Jessica Koslow puts the girl in Sqirl and is ready to confirm or deny all the rumors. I was about to ask her if it’s true the cafe is expanding, but the first thing she did was lead me next door into what will soon be Sqirl Away, a grab-and-go counter and a brilliant solution to the fact that the main restaurant is always packed. Is it true that Sqirl will open a restaurant in New York? “That was true until it wasn’t,” says Jessica. I tell her I always hear that the chef and owner of the restaurant used to be a TV producer. “I only worked in TV for three years—it’s funny that people say that.”
But I did learn about a couple exciting plot twists. In a challenge to the Eastside food snobs who feel some ownership over Sqirl, Jessica will soon be opening a yet-unnamed restaurant on the other side of the 405 with a touch of “Jewish diaspora and cuisine from Morocco and Israel.” And she just published 280 delicious pages called Everything I Want to Eat, in early October. It will be the first cookbook I’ll ever buy because everything that Jessica wants to eat, I probably do too.
Keep up with Sqirl and their upcoming grab-and-go shop, Sqirl Away, by visiting their website here.