Sqirl’s Famous Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl

by Lia
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The sorrel pesto rice bowl from Sqirl.

Kiss that “FOMO” goodbye! I finally made it to Sqirl.

I still can’t believe that it took me this long to finally eat at Sqirl, the Mecca of hipster brunch spots in Los Angeles. It’s been on my list ever since I got here; and after all this time, I now understand (and totally agree with) all of the hype. 

Patric Kuh, the restaurant critic for Los Angeles Magazine, describes Sqirl as:

Bacon serving but vegan friendly, attuned to the rhythms of an L.A. day (breakfast until 4 p.m.), Sqirl is of the moment yet anchored by something deeper.

And I know that I couldn’t say it any better.

About a Sqirl

The place is small and minimal with a community table in the middle, bar seating along the walls, and patio tables in front. It’s located in Silver Lake, and the customers represent the hip neighborhood well. The menu is posted on the wall to the right, and you order at the counter straight ahead from the entrance — and the small kitchen is open to the left so you can witness the hustle.

Sqirl started out in this small space about six years ago as a maker of yummy jams and preserves. Then they started serving breakfast and lunch, and its popularity skyrocketed like crazy, making owner and chef Jessica Koslow one of the biggest names in food in Los Angeles today. I’m pretty sure it was Chef Koslow who put made grain bowls trendy, and I can see why. She figured out how to fuse together eclectic flavors and build diverse ingredients on a base of healthy grains. (Plus, eating out of a bowl is probably the most comfortable and casual way to eat!)

The Famous Rice Bowl

When I went to Sqirl, I knew I had to order the illustrious sorrel pesto rice bowl. This is the dish that dreams are made of, and it’s truly a must-order menu item for first-timers at the restaurant. The bowl is built on a base of Kokuho Rose® brown rice, which is a premium heirloom Japanese style rice, coated in sorrel pesto. Sorrel is a bright leafy herb that has a tartness and sourness to it; and when made into a pesto, its lemony flavor keeps it light — not heavy like a basil pesto at all. Bits of preserved Meyer lemon are mixed into the rice, giving it a refreshing citrus boost. The bowl is topped with beautiful watermelon radish, crumbles of French sheep feta, and a perfectly poached egg with a dill garnish. For spice, a line of homemade lacto-fermented hot sauce runs across the entire dome of rice. And for my bowl, I added an order of house bacon — two thick cut slices of fried bacon with very crispy edges.

The sorrel pesto rice bowl had a refined blend of savoriness and zing. There was no one ingredient that seemed to overpower the other. The combination of soft rice, crunchy radish, and the creamy yolk of the poached egg made the dish pleasantly complex in texture. I loved mixing in the hot sauce so that every grain had a little bit of spice. Also, I can’t imagine eating the sorrel pesto rice bowl without bacon. I think you absolutely have to add the house bacon, or else you’re just not living. I also recommend getting one of their fresh juices or lemonades. I had a tall cold glass of fresh made rhubarb lemonade to complete my hipster brunch.

I am incredibly excited about going back. There are loads of other dishes to try, including more rice bowls, various toasts, and a bunch of pastries and desserts that are created based on the market and season. It’s a creative menu that aims to deliver bold, yet simple flavors with innovative ingredient combos that only a hip cafe in Silver Lake could deliver. 

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