A Break from the Usual Food and Coffee Grind: LAMILL, Silver Lake

by Jessica on February 23, 2011

Kid Hit Menu Items:
It’s hard to go wrong with the LAMILL power combo of house-made golden potato chips with a cappuccino. But fret not — there is some modification involved. While the former item attracts tiny hands within a nanosecond of hitting the table, the latter can be adapted (steamed milk in a capp cup) so kids feel like they’re getting the full LAMILL experience. Fiscalini cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect specimens of what soul-satisfying, quality comfort food. Be warned: fresh pastries often run out fast, especially during weekends.

Adult Perks: LAMILL’s menu, which was developed by Providence’s Michael Cimarusti, shifted the café paradigm. Some doubters thought the food aspirations added to the preciousness of the place, along with its multi-page coffee & tea menu and radical laboratory brewing preparations (Chemex, Eva Solo, siphon, etc.), but the food remains solidly grounded. We’re always down for a bowl of perfectly soft scrambled eggs with lardons and wild mushrooms ($10), or with Dungeness crab ($14) and other fillings, also available in cocottes. And the “coffee and jelly donut” ($5) with donut-infused milk simultaneously hits the coffee and dessert spot. LAMILL has its wine and beer license and does some interesting spiked beverages, too. At dinnertime, eel, Jidori chicken, and arctic char are not items you’d expect to see at your average neighborhood coffee joint. But then again, LAMILL isn’t typical in just about every respect — neither for this neighborhood in particular, nor for café culture overall.

The lovely Hollywood Regency interior by Rubbish (LAMILL’s neighbor across the street) with its big brass chandeliers, faux animal skins surface treatments, and gray-toned French neoclassical-inspired murals, was very of-the-moment when LAMILL opened in 2008. But the space’s two rooms seem to have softened over time, along with some neighbor’s resistance to such a chichi, relatively “Westside” style operation coming into Silver Lake. This location on Silver Lake Boulevard continues to evolve into one of the city’s most interesting retail strips and an epicenter of terrific design, especially now that OK and Lake moved down the street. And I always pop into Yolk next door for kid gifting needs. Oh yeah, and the SL park is nearby!

Cons: The stone-topped tables have quite sharp corners, and the rooms are generally full and crowded. The banquettes along the walls are much too low for the table heights, a complaint I hear often from friends.

Changing Station: No

High Chairs: Yes

Parking and Access: Parking lot directly behind, or metered street parking.

Other Tidbits: LAMILL might brand itself as a coffee and tea “boutique,” but don’t let that intimidate you. As the designed-to-the-umpteenth-degree space has gotten worn in over the years, the vibe is more relaxed and welcoming to families. Not like I ever felt discouraged from bringing kids here in the first place, since it suits writers tapping away or staring out the window, ladies who love their high tea, dudes who are really into the coffee gear, and children demanding their grilled cheese, milk and cookies. (And no, I don’t think the coffee/tea bifurcation falls that cleanly along gender lines.)

The most ambiguous remaining part of the restaurant/café and boutique is still the name; so we’ve settled on the fact that it’s not “El-Lay Mill” and instead “lahh mill,” but is it all one word? And spelled in all caps or are some lowercase letters kosher when referring to LAMILL in writing? I’ll go with what the website shows, even if some national press has done otherwise.


1636 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake
(323) 663-4441
Cuisine: Café/Eclectic
Price: $$
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.

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