Zoe Nathan has a gift... and a winning smile to go with it. This morning as I stood in line for the third day in a row for my morning pastry at Josh Loeb's and Zoe Nathan's new Rustic Canyon off shoot on Wilshire Blvd. between 10th and 11th Streets in Santa Monica, Huckleberry, I marveled at the ever replenishing berry crostadas, the blueberry bundt cake, the maple bacon biscuits and a stunningly red tomato tart with fresh basil. For myself, I ordered a hefty slice of the sour cream crumble coffee cake for $5 and the cinnamon sugar donut for $2.50 to go. It's an infectious place where even the Harbor patrolman in front of me was greeting and smiling at the crowd in line while we all waited patiently to order and pay.
Patience is needed. Like Clementine's in Century City there is an inevitable back log as you peruse the remarkable display case, ask questions, place your order and then wait to pay. Mr. Loeb keeps a constant eye on the floor, retrieving one guest's latte, while Ms. Nathan restocks and answers questions. I've never met either one but on first impression they've joined those select few in Los Angeles who combine entrepreneurial skill with culinary excellence.
To the staff's credit they move you along with great good nature and resolve. They always seem to be two steps ahead, anticipating the lone donut purchase from the green eggs and ham or the delicious Neiman bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich on their home made multi grain bread for $10.50. After less than a week in operation word is strong on the street that the veal meatball sandwich at $12 is a map placer.
American pastry: muffins, bread puddings, lemon bars and the like are deceptively difficult, and when you sample the quality of Huckleberry's, or Clementine's, Bette's Diner in Berkeley, Tartine or Citizen Cake in San Francisco, Stacy McCorkle of Sugarfix, Jan Purdy of Max and The Oinkster or Nancy Silverton in the early days of Campanile you want to rejoice. Mornings have never had it so good.
1014 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401