Proof Bakery opened its slate-grey store front very quietly just a few weeks ago on November 19. The partnership of Proof owner/ executive pastry chef Na Young Ma and Cognoscenti coffee maestro Yeekai Lim puts some of the best coffee (Four Barrel) and pastries under one roof, and gives Cognoscenti its first permanent home. While Lim works the espresso machine behind the counter, Culinary Institute of America graduate Crystal White whips up the sweet treats in the back, including burnished or meringue-topped lemon tarts, flakey scones and biscuits, darling cookies and savory tarts. The style is classic French, with nods to California's seasonal produce and an emphasis on presentation. White has a keen set of taste buds too, pairing chocolate, goat cheese, lemon and pomegranete seeds in one gorgeous tart.
Pale marble counters and reclaimed wood set off the stark grey walls inside the bakery. The space that used to house Toni's Rolling Pin Bakery is unrecognizable to those familiar with the neighborhood. Interesting fact about Lim: he dabbles in architecture, and was a full-time architect before mastering the art of a good cup of joe, which explains the somewhat minimalist design of the bakery. Still, Chef White's baked goods (Ma helped develop the menu) warm everything up, and both the smell of a good shot of espresso and warm brownies keep the locals coming. But why Atwater? Seems like Ma picked the location because she lives nearby and also wanted to stand out from what's offered elsewhere in town. Indeed, with Huckleberry, Sweet Lady Jane, and (temporarily) Bouchon dominating the Westside, Proof is exactly what the Eastside of LA needed. Proof is open now every Wednesday - Sunday from 8AM until 4PM. — Daniela Galarza