Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Diamond in the Rough - The Fantastic Croissant Maker Takes on Dinner Service - Bite Bar and Bakery

In a matter of months, Bite Bar & Bakery has blossomed from a quiet soft opening with little fanfare, into one of the hottest topics on Chowhound. When soniabegonia first started a thread praising Bite Bar's Croissants, it immediately rose to the top of my "must try" list since those buttery, flaky crescent-shaped Pastries are one of my greatest guilty pleasures. :) I was excited to try it and before I knew it, even Chowhound luminaries like Servorg, bulavinaka, Dommy!, Mattapoisett in LA, noahbites, mollyomormon and many others hopped on the thread, adding to the growing enthusiasm over this new Bakery. And after finally settling in and getting their liquor license, Bite Bar & Bakery has just debuted their dinner service, emphasizing a Small Plates concept (true to their name :), with a short, focused Beer & Wine List.

Taking over the old Violet space, Bite Bar & Bakery is helmed by Chef Elizabeth Goel (who's been running a private catering company (Bite Catering Couture) prior to this, and a graduate of The French Culinary Institute (New York)). The space has been beautifully transformed into something warm and charming. Clean white walls with simple wood accents, cooking utensils and book shelves lined with a variety of cook books adorn a spacious but cozy dining room. During the day, the lighting scheme and large windows makes it a relaxing place to grab a Pastry and converse with friends. :) At night, with the new dinner service, the entire restaurant becomes a warm, charmingly lit place for Small Plates and Wine.

Even their Pastry counter is a reflection of this casual, relaxing attitude with simple, open wood tables displaying a variety of their fresh-baked goods, with a cute Cookie Jar section that shouldn't be missed. :)

During my 1st visit, I had to start with their homemade Croissant. :)

I feel the excitement begin to build as I take a bite:

Outstanding! (^_^)

The crisp outer layer crackles and gives way to this soft, airy interior. There's a gentle, buttery sweetness that permeates each bite; not too greasy, not too dry. I wear a perpetual smile for the rest of the day. :)

Since that first visit, I've gotten ~7-8 Croissants and thankfully they've been very consistent, except during my 2nd visit, when the Croissant was slightly burnt and dried out (pictured below). But the other 6-7 Croissants have been simply wonderful. :)

I'd have to say I enjoy Bite Bar & Bakery's Croissants more than the well-respected Amandine, but I prefer Anisette's Croissant with Normandy Butter just a tad more (but it's very close). But Bite wins in the convenience category, since it's outstanding and easier to pick up than Anisette on most days). :)

Bite Bar & Bakery serves a variety of Organic Teas (in silken sachets) from Shangri La. On this visit, I try their Organic Breakfast Tea.

Shangri La's take on the traditional English Breakfast Tea is quite fragrant, smooth and invigorating. :)

Another much-lauded item is their Lemon Bar on Shortbread Crust.

While not my favorite sweet, after hearing so many endorsements for Euro Pane's famous Lemon Bar and then for Bite's version, I had to give both of them a try for a taste test. :) Chef Goel's version at Bite Bar & Bakery is an explosion of intense lemony goodness! I thought Euro Pane's Lemon Bar was pretty intense, but Bite Bar's is even more concentrated, but also sweeter (so there's less of the slightly bitter citrus notes you get with Euro Pane's version). Both are very good, but the sweeter, more in-your-face lemony topping and light Shortbread Crust makes it my favorite of the two. :)

While I'm not the biggest Chocolate fan out there, their Pain Au Chocolat (Chocolate Croissant) is another excellent pastry.

Building upon the excellent foundation of Chef Goel's regular Croissant, it shouldn't surprise me that her Pain Au Chocolat is great as well. It features a similar crisp exterior and pillowy inside, and there's a nice thin ribbon of Chocolate running through the center and for a non-Chocolate lover, it's just the right amount to be enjoyable without turning it into a total dessert. :)

During one of my later visits, I remember hearing about their Naanwich (Chickpea Curry on an Open-Faced Homemade Naan with Cilantro, Tomato Salad & Mango) so we place an order for this interesting-sounding Sandwich.

I wouldn't say it's a Curry that would rival any of the top Curries in town, but it's a very flavorful dish, fragrant with exotic spices and a great balance of ingredients. The Homemade Naan is actually quite thick and soft, but a great complement to the Curried Chickpeas and Tomato Salad. Lastly, a note that those expecting a Sandwich should be warned that this is more like a fork and knife dish than a hand-held traditional Sandwich. I'm just happy that something this flavorful and tasty happens to be Vegetarian and healthy. (^_~)

Their Warm Spinach Salad (with Andouille Dressing, Goat Cheese, Creole Spiced Nuts and Homemade Duck Prosciutto) arrives next.

The Spinach is excellent. It's not often you can say that about this common vegetable, but there's a brightness that you don't normally get with many Spinach Salads around the city. The combination with Goat Cheese is very good and the Andouille Dressing has this porcine edge that gives this Salad some verve. :)

Unfortunately - and I can't believe I'm about to type this - there's just too much Homemade Duck Prosciutto. The Duck Prosciutto is intense and very salty, and in small quantities it's quite tasty, but there's too much of it in comparison to the Spinach, and it ends up overpowering the dish quickly. Perhaps keeping the same generous portion of Prosciutto and just adding more Spinach might do the trick. (^_~)

One of the more controversial sandwiches on the menu might very well be their Reuben Sandwich (Homemade Corned Beef and Sauerkraut on Rye with Thousand Island and Cheese).

Hearing Ciao Bob rave about this item made it a "must try" for me :), so I couldn't wait to order it. The first thing that struck me about this Sandwich (and most of their Lunch Sandwich offerings) is that they're served like Panini Sandwiches, pressed with that signature crinkle pattern. I don't mind Panini, but those expecting either traditional grilled Sandwiches or non-pressed Sandwiches should take note.

I'm not a big Reuben connoisseur, so it's nice to enjoy a new style of Reuben without getting a hulking, grease bomb of a Sandwich. :) The Homemade Corned Beef is quite tasty, having a milder taste than most hole-in-the-wall versions (which are far more salty). My only beef (no pun intended :p) with this Sandwich was that our Reuben came out with the Swiss Cheese unmelted (or barely melted), perhaps not enough heat in their Panini Press machine?

There's a really nice balance of flavors with a more manageable amount of Corned Beef (instead of exploding out of the Sandwich), some Thousand Island Dressing and a bit of Sauerkraut and the crisped Bread. If the Cheese was melted, I'd enjoy this Reuben a bit more, but overall I'd be happy to order it again. It's an excellent, healthier, alternative Reuben. Although I have to say, having just had Langer's Hot Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, Grilled on their wonderful Rye Bread... it's a hard call to make. :)

Their side of Cajun Fries are adequate. Usually crispy with a hollow, airy center, on some visits they're unfortunately fried at the wrong temperature, soaking up too much oil.

Crab Sandwiches aren't too common in So Cal, so it's nice when you get a solid version with their Toasted Crab Sandwich (on Sourdough with Paprika Aioli and Watercress Salad).

The Crab is lightly briny, but still relatively fresh with a good balance of flavors. One of my guests is a big fan of all Crab dishes and she couldn't get enough of the Toasted Crab Sandwich. I thought it was enjoyable, but nothing amazing.

One of the strangest things about Bite Bar is the quality of their produce outside of their Salads. Their Salads have been consistently strong and vibrant, but the little "side" of greens served with their various Sandwiches have ranged from average to disappointing depending on the day. On this visit, we're served some less-than-good quality Watercress with much of it being comprised of the more unsightly spotted leaves that are usually thrown out (see pic below). On other visits, their little side of greens tastes dull.

Continuing on, their Asparagus Soup with Tuille is a wonderful surprise.

This is one soup where it tastes like they distilled down an entire bunch of Asparagus into a single bowl, sitting in front of you. It's intensely Asparagus, verdant, yet lightly creamy, and I can't stop sipping it. :)

One of my guests is a cookie fiend, so I'm powerless to stop her from ordering their homemade Lavender Shortbread Cookie and the Dark Chocolate Heaven Cookie with Pecan. :)

The Lavender Shortbread Cookie is light and crumbly, a touch dry, but exuding a pleasant Lavender aroma with each bite.

And while I'm not a Chocolate fiend, their Dark Chocolate Heaven Cookie with Pecan is mind-blowingly good! (^_^) It's so rich and intensely chocolaty, yet it's not too sweet. Probably one of the best Dark Chocolate Cookies I've had in recent memory.

We finish up with their Pecan Caramel Bar with Chocolate Ganache.

It's packed with Pecans, giving it a different nuttiness than the more commonly found Peanut or Almond sweets. In addition, the Pecans really help balance out the Caramel and Chocolate Ganache, making this one of the more enjoyable sweet creations on the menu.

On another visit, we begin with their Egg Souffle with Garlic.

It's slightly bready on the outside with a moist, soft center. There isn't really a strong Garlic note present, but the lightly dressed Tomato adds a nice sweet acidity to the Souffle.

For those that can't get enough of their Lemon Bars, their Lemon Olive Oil Cake might satisfy that craving and then completely steamroll you afterward. :)

The outside of this Lemon Olive Oil Cake is firm and Cookie-like, which then gives way to an oozing center of Lemon Custard. It's almost as citrusy as their Lemon Bar, but with ~2-3 times the amount of oozing Lemon goodness to enjoy. Overall, I enjoy their Lemon Bar more, only because the sugary frosting on top makes this Olive Oil Cake too sweet for my tastes, bordering on cloying.

The first savory dish arrives at this point, their Pulled Pork Sandwich (served on Focaccia Bread with Coleslaw).

Going through their menu of Sandwiches so far, the one unfortunate aspect that brings down some of their Sandwiches from time-to-time is their Bread. Bite Bar & Bakery does not bake their own Bread (they source it from an external vendor), and while some Sandwiches are fine, others are hampered by it, such as in their Pulled Pork Sandwich.

The Focaccia Bread is simply too dry and thick, and while it stands up to the very wet Pulled Pork, it also sucks out the moisture from your mouth as you're eating it. To make matters worse, the Pulled Pork itself is very sweet, and has the consistency of mush. :( The spicy tang undertones are appreciated but everything else is disappointing. With so much good 'Q around town, it makes it even harder to recommend this to anyone except out of convenience.

Things bounce back nicely with their Grilled Pressed Asparagus Sandwich (with Sundried Tomato Pesto and Havarti Cheese).

The Cheese is thankfully melted this time, and the balance of Grilled Asparagus with the mild, creamy, gooey, delicious Havarti Cheese and crunch of their Panini-pressed Bread makes this one of their better Sandwiches on the menu.

The BITE BLTA (with Fresh Tomato, Greens, Smoky Bacon, Avocado and Homemade Tarragon Aioli) shows up soon after.

This is, sadly, another disappointing Sandwich on the menu. The Focaccia is dry, but less dense than the one used for their Pulled Pork. The Tomatoes, Mixed Greens and Avocado are fine, but the real problem lies in the star of this dish: The Bacon. It's cold and soggy. :( To be fair, many places around town batch cook a bunch of Bacon and serve the pre-made Bacon in their BLTs as well, but with all the attention to detail and quality of most of their items, it's unfortunate that Bite's BLTA isn't served with fresh-cooked Bacon (made-to-order).

On a recent visit, I'm joined by my dear friend Jotaru for Bite Bar & Bakery's Grand Opening Dinner. As we enter the restaurant during the inaugural run of their Dinner service, we're warmly greeted by a gracious hostess who shows us to our table immediately.

Our server explains the menu concept (of Small Plates, meant for sharing), and we begin with their Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Chorizo and Manchego Cheese.

This is probably one of the most deceiving plates on the new Dinner menu. While it may look bite-sized, it's a *substantial* mouthful. The Bacon is hot and crisped (a big plus :), but from there, the rest of the bite is just a long, chewy, very meaty experience in a slightly unpleasant way. At the center of the problem is the chunk of Chorizo. While a Date may seem like a simple, bite-sized thing to eat, the dry, chunky piece of Chorizo adds a density that brings down this dish. The Date itself is a big, meaty specimen during this evening's meal, and using a whole slice of thick-cut Bacon (as hot and crisped and tasty as it is by itself :) is just too much.

It seems like a more logical choice (given the refinement and daintiness of the rest of their menu) is to go with the more svelte cousin of this appetizer: Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs or some variation of that (when available).

Next up is their Napa-Style Artichoke Beignet with California Remoulade.

What arrives are tiny, deep fried, battered pieces of Artichoke that are fried at the wrong temperature, completely saturated with oil. The California Remoulade (with Shallots, Capers, Brandy and Lemon) is an OK pairing, but I'd be happy with just the Artichoke Beignets by themselves (if they were a little less greasy).

I can't resist a good Pate, so I have to order their Pate Tasting, featuring an exploration of 3 different proteins, all made in-house.

Going from right-to-left, we start with the Rabbit Rillette with Red Grape Marmalade.

As I use my knife to break into the mound of Rabbit Rillette, I notice it's surprisingly dense and very hard to break off a portion to spread on the Crostini. Rabbit is inherently a lean protein - and perhaps I've been spoiled by Palate's various Rillette preparations - but after having incredibly soft, smooth, spreadable Rillettes over the past few years, this dense, very tightly-packed Rabbit Rillette is a bit disappointing. The Rabbit itself tastes delicious once you work it onto the Toasted Bread, but be careful with the Red Grape Marmalade as it's extremely sweet.

But one thing that really ruins this dish (and the next one) is their Crostini. I realize that for a Grand Opening they want to ensure as easy a time for the kitchen as possible (if something can be prepped ahead of time, do it, to save time later). But for an establishment known for excellent baked goods, serving burnt, stale Crostinis is baffling. We were served 4 jars of Crostinis over the various courses this evening and they were all flat-out black-burnt (with some of the char scraped off, and they were all stale. (>_<) Very disappointing. The 2nd portion of the tasting is their Duck Mousse with Bacon Bits, Roasted Maui Gold Pineapple and Vanilla Compote.

I can't really taste any Bacon Bits as the Duck Mousse is very silky and smooth, tasting completely of Duck Offal. Unfortunately, the Maui Gold Pineapple and Vanilla Compote just doesn't work. While it's not as sweet as the Red Grape Marmalade, there's a *perceived* sweetness from the intensely tropical smell of Pineapple and the aroma of real Vanilla Bean extract, and both of those combine to overpower the Duck Mousse.

The third item is the Creamy Homemade Chicken Liver Pate with Fresh Spring Rhubarb Chutney.

It's certainly creamy (the complete opposite in texture to the Rabbit Rillette's density), but it's quite salty and screams of all things "Liver" (metallic, iron-y, pungent taste). It tastes more like "Pureed Raw Liver" than a usual Pate, due to its extreme taste. But, once paired with the Fresh Spring Rhubarb Chutney, this is the pairing that works the best of the trio, really mellowing out the flavors a bit. Overall, this Pate Tasting doesn't approach something out of Chef Florent Marneau's kitchen, or the surprisingly stunning homemade Pate from Chef Masataka Hirai, but I'm hopeful the kitchen will improve over time.

Continuing on, their "House Specialty" Piedmontese Steak Tartare (served with Quail Egg, Grilled Rustic Bread) arrives next.

A mini tower of Minced Beef is presented with the ingredients separated out, before being mixed tableside to finish off the Steak Tartare. Bite's version uses a combination of Anchovies, Capers, Cornichon, Horseradish and Cognac, with a Quail Egg, and the end result is a slightly too tart version of a respectable Steak Tartare. We're served the same, completely burnt, stale Crostini (Rustic Bread Slices) for this course and it really detracts from the overall enjoyment of the dish. :(

The Creole Crab Cakes arrive quickly after.

These are 3 small Crab Cakes made with Jumbo Lump Crab, topped with Chipotle Honey Corn Mashed Potatoes. It sounds delicious, but the Crab Cakes lack the crispy exterior that you'd hope for in a good Crab Cake, and the overall texture is a bit too mushy for my tastes.

The Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes that it's served on has a wonderful Rosemary and herbal aroma, but is quite thick and dense. This isn't something I'd order again.

At this point, I'm getting worried about the menu, but then the Buttermilk Southern Fried Jidori Chicken (with Creamy Gouda Grits, Stewed Tomato and Okra) arrives.

The first bite is a series of emotions and feelings, from the slightly crunchy exterior yielding to completely juicy, succulent, mouth-watering Jidori Chicken that's pure and bright and simply delicious! (^_^) The Stewed Tomato and Okra adds a unique, light, vegetal sweetness to each bite of the Chicken that elevates it to a different plateau than what you might expect with Fried Chicken.

Fried Chicken purists should take note: This is definitely not a traditional "Fried Chicken." Those looking for the ultra-crunchy, crispy, traditional Fried Chicken won't find it here and may be disappointed. While I personally would like the crust to be a bit more crunchy, this is Chef Goel's alternate interpretation of Fried Chicken and it's my favorite item on their dinner menu. Excellent! :)

Bite's Signature Mini BBQ Bacon Western Kobe Cheeseburgers (with Niman Ranch Bacon and "Special Sauce") unfortunately can't match the greatness of the Jidori Fried Chicken.

While some dishes are quite ample in their portions (like the Fried Chicken), others feel quite dainty and too precious at times, like their Mini Cheeseburgers. These are smaller than most Sliders (really like a "single bite" version of a Cheeseburger).

It's a great concept, but like their Pulled Pork Sandwich, their outsourced Bread is the downfall of this dish. The Mini Burger Buns are very dry and dense, and really detract from the enjoyment of the 28-Day Dry Aged Beef Patty which is excellent. There's a real beefy, intense quality that's lovely and that's more enjoyable than most of the "big boys" for Burgers around town (like 8 oz, Lucky Devils, etc.). I applaud Chef Goel for using a 28-Day Dry Aged Beef; it really accentuates and concentrates the flavors to give you a true Beef flavor, but the Burger Bun drags this dish down, as does the "Special Sauce" which doesn't really accentuate or move the dish in any direction; it just tastes like a moisture component that was thrown in because it was needed more than anything.

The Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin (served on Market Greens with Pork Jus) is our final savory course of the evening.

This super-lean cut of Pork is tender considering how lean it is, but still quite dense and chunky at times. I think we're getting spoiled with the ubiquitous Pork Belly and various long-stewed Pork dishes around town (with meltingly tender chunks of Pork), so going back to a tightly-packed, dense, lean Pork Tenderloin that's semi-tender can feel underwhelming at times.

It is thankfully not too salty at all, with the necessary sodium coming from the Bacon-wrapped exterior and Bacon Bits on top. :) On this evening, the kitchen uses some Chinese Chives which is an unusual, refreshing pairing.

For dessert, we decide on the Chef's Choice Trio, featuring 3 of their excellent selections from the Dessert Menu.

I start with their Vanilla Bean Yoghurt Panna Cotta (with Balsamic Strawberies and Fresh Mint).

It's a little bit firmer than what I'm used to, but still very well made with beautiful notes of Vanilla and fresh, in-season Strawberries. It's delicate, and the least sweet (in a good way) dessert on the menu.

The Triple Berry Streusel Crostata (with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream) is next.

Chef Elizabeth's prowess really shines here with an excellent crust giving way to fresh, lightly sweet Berries and the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Lovely. :)

And then we finish off with the most decadent, but stunning Warm Valrhona Molten Chocolate Cake.

The Cake is excellent, warmed through, featuring a molten core of this deep, slightly bitter, aromatic Chocolate. Wonderful. :)

Despite some hiccups on the menu (service was great), I can't wait to return for another Dinner. :)

On my 5th visit, the meal begins with their Deviled Eggs with Smoked Paprika.

These are an excellent starter, with a creamy, mustardy, Paprika-tinged filling.

Their Truffle Fries with Garlic Butter are even better than their Lunch-time Cajun Fries.

They're crispy on the outside with a slightly hollow center, and Chef Goel judiciously uses the Truffle Oil without overusing it, giving just the right amount of enhancement while letting the Garlic Butter do the rest. :) Delicious!

Probably the biggest surprise on their Dinner Menu would have to be their Salads. Normally the "boring" or overlooked section of a menu, Chef Elizabeth creates an absolute winner with the Edamame and Sugar Snap Salad (with Spicy Sriracha-Sesame Dressing). The Edamame and Sugar Snap Peas are just cooked through, maintaining a good firm texture while being slightly supple, and when served chilled with a little bit of heat from the Sriracha-Sesame Dressing, it makes for a rare, delightful Salad during this hot season. :)

And even more unusual and just as standout is Chef Goel's Summer Salad (Watermelon, Feta, Mint, Aged Balsamic, Arugula and Basil).

At first you might do a double-take when reading "Watermelon" and "Feta (Cheese)" :), but it works, brilliantly. The Watermelon chunks are chilled and refreshing by themselves, but then the sprinkling of Feta Cheese (a mild version) adds a slightly tangy, unusual component, which is then immediately brought to harmonize with the Aged Balsamic and Basil. The bits of Arugula, with its peppery spiciness, and finally, the always uplifting Mint, all combine to create this strange, but unique Salad that's invigorating and perfect for Summer. :)

Their House Mac 'n Cheese (with Crunchy Panko Topping) arrives next.

Mac 'n Cheese is a very personal thing: Some people love a Mac 'n Cheese that's loaded with Cheese that's hot and gooey; others prefer it creamy, with less Cheese; while others relish the gourmet improvements like Truffle or some kind of animal protein, etc.

Bite's version has a nice crunchy topping of Panko, while underneath is a more minimalistic type of Mac 'n Cheese: Not too cheesy or creamy. The Aged Cheddar gives it a nice funk and appeal, but I like my Mac 'n Cheese to be creamier with a little more Cheese.

I can't resist trying their Buttermilk Southern Fried Jidori Chicken one more time, and this time the outside crust is a bit softer and falls away from the Chicken too easily. It's still absolutely juicy and delicious overall, but it looks like they're still working out some kinks with the crust falling apart so easily. Still, quite delectable. :)

The final course is their Classic Grand Marnier Creme Brulee (served with Lavender Shortbread Wedges).

It's beautifully presented, but the caramel top isn't cooked hot enough to form a satisfying crunchy thin layer shell (there's a thin layer that's been caramelized, but only slightly). Besides that, the Custard within is delicious, creamy and silky, but it becomes saccharin very quickly. If it was just a little less sweet it'd be perfect. The Lavender Shortbread Wedges are expertly crafted, floral and a great complement to this dessert.

Service is a mixed bag at Bite Bar & Bakery. Over the course of my 5 visits, I've found that during Breakfast and Lunch, service is extremely slow at times. Everyone's nice and cordial, but even at only ~20 - 30% capacity, getting more Coffee or a refill of Hot Water for Tea is an exercise in patience. On one visit, after waiting around for 15+ minutes with no server that we could get attention from, it was faster for me to get up and go to the counter and wait for someone to acknowledge me to get a refill. Dishes also arrive surprisingly slowly. Whatever the inefficiencies may be, I can't imagine what it'd be like if the restaurant was running at ~80 - 100% capacity.

Dinner, on the other hand, despite it being a Grand Opening weekend was stellar. There were new servers present and everyone was attentive with plates cleared quickly, and any other needs met with equal alacrity. Bite Bar suffered none of the nightmares in service that plague many businesses during their initial opening phase. Prices range from $2.50 - $4.50 for Pastries; $4.95 - $13.25 for Sandwiches; and $3 - $12 for Dinner Small Plates. We averaged about ~$42 per person (including tax and tip) for Dinner.

Bite Bar & Bakery is currently at an interesting growth period: Already an accomplished Bakery with excellent Pastries for Breakfast and Brunch, its Lunch Sandwiches run the gamut from disappointing (Pulled Pork) to delicious (Naanwich, Grilled Pressed Asparagus, Reuben), while the new Dinner service and menu exhibits similar fluctuations. With its current Dinner Menu, if one can navigate away from the land mines (Artichoke Beignet, Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Crab Cakes, Pate Tasting) and stay with their winners (Jidori Fried Chicken, Salads and Truffle Fries), Bite becomes a good place to stop in for a quick bite if you're in the neighborhood.

As a Bakery, Bite is the purveyor of some of the best Croissants in So Cal, and thus, holds a special place in my heart for Breakfast. :) For their new Small Plates Dinner concept, I'm holding out hope that Chef Goel and company will continue to improve and develop the menu, bringing it to the same level of excellence as their Pastries. For now, I'll be happy to stop in for their surprising Summer Salad, Edamame and Sugar Snap Salad, Southern Fried Jidori Chicken, and maybe the Warm Valrhona Molten Chocolate Cake. (^_~)

Rating: 7.9 (out of 10.0)
(Rating for Pastries / Breakfast Only: 8.6 (out of 10.0))

Bite Bar and Bakery
3221 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Tel: (424) 744-8658

Hours: Tues - Sun, 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
[Brunch] Sat - Sun, 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
[Dinner] Fri - Sat, 5:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Closed Mondays.


Banana Wonder said...

Fantastic review! Watermelon and feta salad is actually a popular dish in Greece. You have me craving croissants like crazy now - I will have to get over there soon for some, good to know they are Exile Kiss approved.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Anna,

Thanks. :) Ah, I had no idea Watermelon Feta was popular in Greece. Thanks for the info. ;) Let me know what you think of their Croissants as well. :)

stuffycheaks said...

my first Bite croissant seemed a bit stale but subsequent ones were delicious, so buttery that it took a couple washing to get the butter smell off my fingers (which isn't a bad thing).. Pity about the rabbit rillette, I can't stand unspreadable pates. such a waste.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi stuffycheaks,

Nice! :) Glad you like their Croissants as well. Yah, I hope they improve their Rabbit Rillette in the coming weeks, but that may be the texture and style they're going for. We'll see.

Noah said...

Great review. I've been nervous about their dinner service, after having a lunch there with no other customers a couple of months ago in which it took about an hour to get our order (steak sandwich and crab sandwich). Since then I just, to be honest, haven't been back. I'm not one to write off a restaurant due to service, but it made me want to wait a while before I came back, giving them time to work out the kinks.

It seems like they make a few really stand out things, and others that aren't worth the time. That's why I love reading your comprehensive reviews-- I know that I can trust your palate, so it lets me know what to order when I go.

Maybe I'll have to just come by one night for fried chicken, salad and a dessert.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Noah,

Thanks. :) Wow, 30 minutes just for your Sandwich (and it wasn't full)? I guess I got lucky during my visits.

Overall, I think they'll improve over time; at the very least there are a few standout dishes right now worth a visit if you're in the area. :)

weezermonkey said...

Wow! I can't believe one places serves all of this! You had me at the croissants!

Atsuko said...

Great review, Excile Kiss!

I was just there last Saturday with my husband and my mother-in-law. It is our new favorite lunch place. We were a bit disappointed because they did not serve lunch menu when we were there around 1:30pm on Saturday afternoon, but we enjoyed the food nonetheless. I was not so keen on my crab sandwich which you seemed to like. I was actually contemplating on getting the Watermelon Salad. I will try that next time. Thanks for sharing!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi weezermonkey,

Yah, their Croissants are great. :) Let me know what you think.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Atsuko,

Thanks for your thoughts. Yah, out of their menu, I'd say the Lunch side (Sandwiches) had some disappointments for me as well. Did you get to try any of their Pastries? Did you like any of them? :)

gourmetpigs said...

Thanks for another amazingly extensive review!

I got the 30% Blackboard Eats deal for this place, now I'm very excited. I'll have to fit as much stuff in in 1 visit as possible now :)

Exile Kiss said...

Hi burumun,

Thank you. :) I hope you enjoy your dinner at Bite (and hopefully they've been improving). :)

Gastronomer said...

Wow. Your reviews never cease to amaze me. So much detail! So much food! As always, thank you.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Gastronomer,

Thanks for the kind words. :) Let me know what you think of Bite if you make it out there. Thanks. :)

Bigmouth said...

Bad news, Exile. Stopped by for lunch yesterday and learned that Bite Bar has ceased bakery operations. Apparently, they were losing too much money on the baked goods. They may still keep the croissants and one or two popular desserts. But the display case and counter were empty. Boo-urns!

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