First Look: Sqirl's New Spacious Room and Menu

By Lesley Balla  |  August 21, 2013
Credit: Lesley Balla

It was only last October that master preserver and all-around jam goddess Jessica Koslow turned her tiny Sqirl production kitchen into a small cafe. Even without real seating - tables on the patio were boxes - Sqirl was a hit from day one. There was fabulous toast topped with greens, eggs and jalapeno hot sauce. There was G&B espresso and cold brew. There were pastries and rice bowls. But like a slow-moving tumbleweed, the concept, the offerings and the place grew.

After closing for a few weeks to renovate and make way for Lou Amdur's new wine store and marketplace next door, Koslow unveiled Sqirl 2.0 this week, and it is more charming than ever. The room was expanded for a new marble counter and communal table, and outside there are bright orange cafe tables - yes, real tables! - that perfectly contrast the royal blue building. Along one side of the room, the kitchen is still open where you can watch the team - Koslow herself, chefs Ria Wilson (Canele) and Matt Wilson (Son of a Gun), and pastry chef Meadow Ramsey (Campanile) - do their thing, like hand-make pastas or glaze the most amazing fig upside-down cake we've ever seen, and there's a small counter for ordering.

Along the other side, the chalkboard menu spans an entire wall scrawled with signature menu items like the brioche toasts with jam and cheese, plus specials that change daily. G&B is no longer there, but an Intelligentsia alum, Colleen King, selects new coffees to be served on a rotating basis. The Sqirl team is making and bottling their own cold-brew coffee and teas, plus other refreshers like Gravestein apple juice, rhubarb lemonade and tumeric tonic.

The cafe is open 6:30 AM-4 PM, Monday-Friday, and starting at 8 AM on the weekends. Lou's Wine and Provisions, which was supposed to open when Sqirl did, is still a few days away, but could open as early as next week. Take a look around below, including some of the delicious new dishes you might find this week (720 N. Virgil Ave.; 213-394-6526).

  • New marble counters along one side of the room means you can finally sit and nosh. 

  • The room is more open with a communal table in the center. Order at the counter and they'll find you.

  • We love watching the chefs work, not to mention the pink Kitchen-Aid.

  • Check out the board for daily specials and the regular menu.

  • The carrot socca pancake with cumin-scented yogurt was utterly delicious. 

  • A chilled mussel salad with shelling beans and cherry tomatoes. 

  • This sandwich is fantastic. House-made ricotta with romesco and greens, and we opted to have prosciutto added. It's on pressed Bread Lounge baguette, the preferred bread for all of the sandwiches, and it made it crispy, like cracker bread. Really wonderful combo.

  • Never forget your sweet, jammy roots, Sqirl.

  • The sidewalk sign says it all. Well, almost.

  • Koslow said the patio, too, will get an upgrade, but it's already a step up from the bench with box tables she had when Sqirl first opened to the public.