Archive for the ‘snacks’ Tag

The Sweet Spot   Leave a comment

Although Semi Sweet Bakery in downtown Los Angeles has savory items as well as numerous tempting sweets, the name isn’t quite right. It’s not partially sweet, and it’s tucked away in small, hard-to-find space not at all like a semi, as in truck; however, the quality and variety of baked goods rides above other, pedestrian bakeries.

semisweet crullant

Semi Sweet is  fun: it features several familiar goodies that can’t be identified by their better-known names to avoid copyright infringements. Take the Crullant: a cross between a croissant and a cruller (but this donut’s baked not fried); or the Pocket Tart, as unfamiliar in taste and texture as it is similar in shape and size to a convenient toaster variety popular among kids. There’s also the Ding-a-ling, a spin on the Hostess snack.

semisweet dingaling

The Crème Brulee Crullant had a slightly hard glaze and was filled with vanilla cream reminiscent of its namesake. The texture was light with just the right amount of sweetness. The Pocket Tarts have several filling options; since I’m almost always drawn to anything with strawberries that was an easy choice. Thin, flakey melt-in-your-mouth pastry crust encased a fine layer of strawberry jam. Ding-a-Lings also come in assorted flavors, but chocolate and peanut butter is a hard combination to resist – and it did not disappoint.

semisweet pocket tart

On the savory side, we tried, at the recommendation of a woman who described herself as a regular since she works a few doors away, the Jalapeno Mac and Cheese Empanada. Yep, macaroni and cheese with bits of the piquant chile baked in flakey pastry. It wasn’t sweet and all, but it was a truckload of flavor.

semisweet empanada

Semi Sweet Bakery

Four-and-a-half Plates
105 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA

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The distinction between a dining experience and consuming a meal is more than semantics. At Alma, Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in America 2013, it’s an obvious dissimilarity.

Consider: the five- or seven-course menu are the only choices. Although asked about dietary restrictions, none were tested to see how they’d be resolved. For example, the New Zealand lamb is cooked to medium rare. If that was an issue, we were told, a substitution would be made. It was the chef’s way or not at all. Ultimately, the lamb, only a heartbeat away from a baahh, was melt-in-your mouth rich and tender enhanced by an almond milk sauce and new potatoes. Wait, I’m jumping ahead.


The repast comes with snacks: one-bite morsels worthy of larger plates. Mega-flavors are infused in pint-size portions. The first two snacks were previews of the creativity and range of textures/tastes awaiting our palates. My favorite was the quarter-size English muffin topped with burrata, uni and caviar. One bite wasn’t enough.

The meal featured smoked cod with Myer lemon and asparagus sauce; root vegetable soup poured over an egg yolk and Shitake mushrooms; octopus; the aforementioned lamb; and white chocolate semi-freddo with grapefruit and bitters. The final snack was a warm, glazed lemon curd-filled donut hole.

Alma exterior

Alma is inconspicuous; our server was vibrant and knowledgeable. The open kitchen is the size of a walk-in closet. Six chefs with varying duties choreographed a meal that will never be replicated. There’s no real menu.

The experience was enjoyable and enlightening; I ate everything. Still, it’s unlikely I’ll return. In a few weeks Alma will only offer a nine-course menu, further reducing the choices.

Four-and-a-half Plates
952 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, Calif.