Scout is a tiny gem situated among giants.
Nestled between its adjoining sisters, the airy, seafood-focused Sawyer and elegant, Italian Kettle Black, this miniature coffee shop has been open just over a year, but thoughtful drinks and a small but mighty food menu have already made it a force to be reckoned with in the neighborhood. While there are plenty of great sit-down brunch spots and restaurants in the area, there wasn’t something that functions like a grab-and-go counter counter until Scout.
The counter concept is a bit less popular in general in Los Angeles, unless it’s a big corporate chain, so having that option is nice considering this part of Silverlake is such a walkable neighborhood. For instance, it’s one of the few places that offers a bagel and lox takeaway in the morning — a staple for transplant New Yorkers and local aficionados alike.
An everything bagel toasted with herbed cream cheese, lox, sprouts, cucumbers, pickled onions and capers is $12, a fair enough price point when you count the lox. And while I would never betray the memory of my old corner shop in Downtown Brooklyn — long live Pio Bagel — Beau Laughlin is three out of three for this restaurant enclave on the corner of Sunset and Edgecliffe.
Replacing a Clover juice bar that operated ensuite with Sawyer, I initially fell in love with the Scout space because of its minimalist, sunny decor. It takes a proper colorist to pull off the light mint green that dominates the upper realm of the bright space, and between that, the floral wallpaper, crisp white tile, and various succulents, the southern California charm is complete. The aforementioned mint green color accent is a framework of metal shelving that turns the small corner shop into a formidable store, too, by using every bit of space.
Designed and decorated by Carlos Anthony Lopez, who also designed Sawyer and Kettle Black, Echo Park favorite Ostrich Farm and its newer counterpart Bar Calo, the light-hearted, sweet feeling of being in the space feeds your senses just as much as the food and drink does. Lopez’s nickname, The Project Assassin, typifies his playful but precise work ethic, and when you step into any space he’s designed, his presence is a clear force, from the wallpaper and color choices, all the way down to the most exquisite details, like lettering on the menus.
Packed with decadent wines, high-end snacks, gorgeous art by local artisans, and takeout from both Sawyer and Kettle Black, Scout epitomizes the affluent corner store aesthetic. Taking a cue from the nearby Broome Street General Store, another east side coffee shop that incorporates hand-selected, carefully-curated wares into its layout, a patron could theoretically grab a bottle of wine, some fresh pasta for dinner, a coffee and a smoothie or sandwich all in one trip. This makes their tagline “bits. bites. booze” make more sense, as they don’t sell alcohol here for ready consumption, but carry an excellent selection of wine by the bottle.
For coffee, Scout serves Heart roasters for both their espresso and drip, a coffee roastery in Portland, Oregon favored by plenty of other shops on the east side, and they get their pastries from Friends & Family — just like Dinosaur Coffee, another Cinnamon favorite. They use house made almond milk (intermittently) and house made vanilla syrup to give brewed additions an extra flair.
And the coffee is good, but what is more singular are their smoothies, which are below $10 without any add-ons (though can get pricey if you add them: $6 CBD oil $6, $2 vegan protein, $2 organic maca and $2 local bee pollen). The Scout is hands down the best drinkable thing on the menu, a golden, surprisingly luscious mix of bananas, dates, bee pollen, local honey, cayenne pepper, cacao, cinnamon, vanilla, almond butter, and almond milk. It’s a rich blend of surprising flavors, and genuinely filling, for a cool $9.
I haven’t tried their Breakfast Burrito ($8) because Taco’s Delta is across the street, or The Fried Chicken Sandwich ($13) because Sawyer’s is right next door, but their other breakfast sandwich, The Lay Up ($8), is another huge hit: soft scrambled eggs, ham, cheddar, aioli, and arugula all on an English Muffin. I’m not sure the process they use for making their delicious, near-perfect eggs, but that scramble elevates what could be a run-of-the-mill item into something that feels extremely decadent.
Scout works best if you either order a breakfast sandwich and smoothie to be delivered to your hangover lair — takeout orders via delivery services are clearly a huge part of the shop’s business — or treat yourself to a quick walk to take food back home, or to a park, and enjoy being outside instead of in your car. Though LA driving culture isn’t something I dislike, little reminders of a New York lifestyle still function as mementos of a past life, even if they come wrapped in Southern California decor.