Sometimes a Saturday morning breakfast at a college dining hall just doesn’t do the trick. I woke up this past Saturday craving something different, something fresh, something I had never had before. In my research I came across Lemon Poppy Kitchen; a part Romanian restuarant, part traditional bakery that serves all the original breakfast items, with a few Romanian twists.
Located just eight minutes (give or take traffic time) from campus in Glassell Park, Lemon Poppy Kitchen is definitely one of the best kept secrets in the area. Hidden away in a strip mall with almost no signs to identify it, Lemon Poppy is a gem that caters to locals in the area looking for a fresh and friendly dining experience.
Upon entering Lemon Poppy, I was immediately greeted with the sweet aroma of fresh, pour-over coffee, a case full of fresh cakes and pastries, and an overall homey atmosphere. I was also greeted by Anca, the co-owner of the bakery who brings the Romanian flare to restaurant, which comes in the form of the bakery’s specialty, the Planchinta. A Planchinta is a Romanian flat bread that is stuffed with either herbs, cheese, meats or a variety of other ingredients. They can be served alone with a side of sour cream, or as a base to many other dishes. “I make the plachintas the same way my grandmother had,” Anca said. Before Lemon Poppy, Anca started Anca’s Romanian. Anca has been selling her plachitans at the Echo Park Farmer’s Market, coffee shops and speciality markets for years, but just a year and a half ago she, along with her co-owners Jack and Katie, decided to open up a cafe.
The beginning of Lemon Poppy begins with “The story of the plachinta lady and the jam lady,” says Anca. The Jam lady is Katie, who started her own jam business called “The Robin’s Nest.” During my first meal at Lemon Poppy I sampled some of her homemade spreads: an apricot and raspberry preserve and apple butter. Spreading the jams on one of the warm, fluffy biscuits I instantly reclined back into my seat. The jam was fresh, flavorful and atop the best biscuit I have ever had, it was a knockout.
For breakfast I ordered the house speciality, the Plachinta Breakfast. The breakfast includes your choice of plachinta (Bacon & Sharp Cheddar, Feta, Dill, & Scallions, Potato, Paprika, & Parsley, Potato, or Red Chili & Jack Cheese) accompanied by a large helping of grilled Swiss chard and Onions, with two over easy eggs on top. The plachinta reminded me of a Salvadorian pupusa, although lighter and more flavorful. I opted for the feta, dill and scallion plachinta. I never would have had swiss chard for breakfast, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The plachinta was cut up into bite size pieces and serves as a tasty alternative to my typical toast or english muffin. The flavors of feta and swiss chard covered in the soft yoke was delectable. I ate my meal slowly to enjoy every bit of it.
Besides breakfast, Lemon Poppy also serves lunchtime sandwiches, fresh smoothies, and handmade sodas with in-house made syrups. The full menu can be viewed at http://lemonpoppykitchen.net/.
I would recommend Lemon Poppy to anyone living in the area who is bored of the same old bacon and eggs, and who is excited about trying the most interesting speciality to hit LA in years, the plachinta.
This post was originally written for and published by the Occidental Weekly