offerings at the historic Grand Central Market are definitely more interesting than ever. G&B Coffee has a stand right at the Hill Street entrance. A new barbecue joint, Horse Thief, just opened on the patio looking toward Angel's Flight. Bulgrarini Gelato now has a cart in one corner. And Valerie Confections opened a counter several weeks ago. We took a look around yesterday, hitting Valerie for lunch, a fantastic Cobb salad - one that mimics the original Brown Derby version pretty closely - which meant we had to get dessert, a crunch cake to be exact.
Valerie is not only known for toffee and chocolates, but also lovely little fruit pies, cookies, jams, preserves and pastries. Valerie Gordon and Stan Weightman Jr. sell at the Hollywood and Santa Monica Farmer's Markets. But her cakes? Amazing.
When the two opened their first commercial kitchen near Silver Lake in 2004, they sold the sweets, but also whole cakes, many updated versions of classics like Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake and Chasen's Banana Shortcake. It all sort of started with the Blum's Crunch Cake when the LA Times asked Gordon to make it, a favorite from San Francisco's famed Blum's Bakery, for a feature. It was such a hit, the cake made the regular roster, but you could only order and pick it up whole at the shop. But at the new Valerie at the Market stall, you can get it by the slice. And so we did. And it is glorious. Two layers of sponge cake layered with a coffee whipped cream frosting and covered in Gordon's delicious, crunchy honeycomb. Goodness, is it gooooood.
Valerie has been open for lunch, but debuts Saturday brunch with breakfast sandwiches, silver dollar pancakes, toast with preserves and more this weekend. Look for the new brunch menu from 9 AM-3 PM.