Strings of Life (S.O.L.) opens today in West Hollywood in a 1,100 square foot indoor and outdoor space off of Melrose. The all-day cafe is dedicated to laid back Aussie vibes, food, and coffee. Named after a 1987 track by electronic musician Derrick May, S.O.L. comes by way of the E.P. & L.P. team — Grant Smillie and David Combes of Botanical Hospitality Group. In recent years, Australian-style cafes have been proliferating the Southland including Ministry of Coffee in Westwood, Roo Coffee in Silver Lake, Bluestone Lane in Studio City, and Bondi Harvest in Culver City.
Heading up the kitchen is husband and wife duo Monty and Jaci Koludrovic. Prior to relocating to Los Angeles to open S.O.L., the native Australians spent six years as executive chefs at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar and the Dolphin Hotel in Sydney, Australia. S.O.L.’s highly approachable menu includes neighborhood standards like breakfast burritos, avocado toast, rice bowls, and chopped salads, along with a handful of globally inspired dishes. The okonomiyaki fritters come studded with English peas and summer corn, while the rosti takes on the familiar profile of an everything bagel sandwich. “We’ve brought all the glory of our lox bagel but built a scrumptious potato cake finished with a zesty bagel seasoning, smoked salmon, and arugula,” says Monty.
Jaci’s line of pastries marries Australian flavors and influences. Filling the bakery case throughout the day are playful creations like a cheese and Vegemite croissant, as well as jaffingtons, a gluten- and dairy-free take on a Lamington cake. She’s particularly fond of the fairy bread, a beloved Australian children’s snack traditionally made with white bread, butter, and rainbow sprinkles. Her take on the classic is gluten- and dairy-free and incorporates fresh raspberries and coconut. A selection of breads and pastries from Bread Lounge and bagels from Bagel Broker are also available daily.
On the drink side of things are Australian-style coffee beverages including flat whites and espresso drinks from Common Room Roasters, which was originally founded in Melbourne and is now located in Newport Beach.
Originally set to open before city-wide coronavirus lockdown, S.O.L. delayed its debut until now. “Being a space that has never been seen nor launched in LA, we firmly believed that the chef-driven program deserved to be experienced firsthand,” says Smillie. “It’s not the ideal way to launch, but we’re thrilled to host spatially distanced guests in-house and on our patio.”
S.O.L. is open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is adhering to re-opening guidelines, which means operating at 60 percent capacity, keeping tables six feet apart, providing tabletop hand sanitizer, and requiring face coverings for both staff and diners. For those needing to get in and out quickly, there is a dedicated takeout window and grab-and-go food and drinks.
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