For at least a couple years, Ran Zimon was a mysterious figure in the L.A. food world. People would tell me that he made the best brioche in the city, or that his pastries were incredible, but Zimon didn’t have a bakery at that point. I first met the Israeli native and Arts District denizen in May, 2010, at a preview for what became Daily Dose. He prepared a halvah and chocolate mousse cake and a walnut tart with coffee and chocolate mousse. People were impressed. After that meal, Zimon went back underground, started selling his bread wholesale to people like Craig Thornton, and surfaced with a full-throttle bakery cafe called Bread Lounge that features an industrial design, glass fronted kitchen and comfortable back patio.
Zimon sells loaves of ciabatta, brioche, baguette, sourdough and more. The breads all factor into sandwiches. On my first visit, the offbeat choice was Roasted Veggie ($7.95), which resulted in one of the best vegetarian sandwiches I’ve had in L.A. The vegetables included eggplant, zucchini and portabello mushrooms, and joined mozzarella, pickled onion, and savory Kalamata tapenade on a choice of bread. In my case, that meant chewy ciabatta-like Kalamata olive stick dusted with the savory Middle Eastern spice blend, zaatar.
Plenty of Fish ($10.95) is a Tunisian play on a tuna sandwich, complete with creamy albacore, preserved lemon and dill aioli, punchy north African harissa, sliced tomato and arugula on thin-crusted ciabatta. The sandwich comes with mixed greens and a pickle spear.
Kouign-Amann ($3.50), a Brittany-style pastry that’s proliferating thanks to places like Bouchon Bakery, is named for the Breton words for cake and butter. Zimon folds layers of caramelized sugar into flaky croissant pastry, yielding a result that’s lighter and less buttery than other versions in town. In general, Zimon has a fairly subtle pastry hand.
It’s hard to imagine ordering borek outside of an Armenian bakery, especially since Bread Lounge charges about five times the price, but Zimon’s specimens did look good. He features traditional fillings like eggplant, and Mexican inspired versions like the Pachuca with grilled chicken, black beans, onion, Mozzarella, cilantro, lime, and enchilada sauce.
Bread Lounge also has a panoply of other tempting pastries, including a ricotta cheese Danish with cranberries and Danish chocolate swirl. It’s satisfying to see that Zimon stopped playing hide and seek with his product, and L.A.’s better for it.