Ran (pronounced "Rhen") Zimon smiles, blushes and looks off into the distance when patrons of his three-week old Bread Lounge retail shop compliment him on the bread. Chefs like Walter Manzke (République) and Craig Thornton (Wolfsmouth) have been buying Zimon's bread for years, but it hasn't been widely available for retail sale. Only a few places like Black Cat Bakery, Wally's Wine, and Monsieur Marcel sometimes retail the baguettes and a few other loaves.
Bread Lounge is a relatively small wholesale operation, but it's been building steadily since Zimon first moved to Los Angeles from Israel about five years ago. He trained in Israeli bakeries, learning the craft after years of practice and patience. He decided to open a bread bakery when he moved to Los Angeles because he felt there "was a need" in town.
One of Zimon's first clients was Church & State (just around the corner from Bread Lounge's location on Santa Fe), and now he supplies nearly all of the restaurants on nearby Industrial Street, including Little Bear, Daily Dose and Le Pour Haus. Diners at La Poubelle, Square One, Cafe Stella, Petit Ermitage and Blue Plate have also tasted Zimon's bread. (Dissatisfied with the bread basket at a favorite restaurant? Consider referring Zimon--he's still taking on wholesale clients.)
Besides baguettes, Bread Lounge offers batards (oval-shaped loaves) in flavors like olive, multi-grain, potato-rosemary, walnut, and whole-wheat. Then, there are the pastries. A full case is dedicated to small flaky things in flavors both savory and sweet. There are spinach and feta stuffed triangles topped with sesame seeds, poppy seeded cheese twists, and next to them, floral-shaped feta danishes. Classic croissants and pain au chocolate march out to the retail case on trolleys, lined up like little soldiers. The ricotta danishes are impossibly perfect. Zimon sweetens the Italian cheese with white chocolate and then studs the thing with plumped up cranberries. It's topped with a crumble before going into the oven and emerges golden brown and crisp on the outside but warm and creamy on the inside, and not too sweet.
Bread Lounge is currently serving a small menu of panini and sandwiches, but will add salads and a few other savory lunch-type items in the next week or two. A full coffee bar is also on offer; while waiting for a cappuccino, patrons can peer through the large bakery window, observing as dozens of loaves are slid into the oven at once. There's a charming (dog-friendly) patio in back, as well as free parking. Bakery opening hours are currently Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The bakery is closed on Mondays "because we need a day off!" says Zimon. [EaterWire]