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Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar

Aug 31, 2014

IMG_3860They had a theme and a full menu before they had a name, explains Honey & Lavender Espresso Bar co-owner Melanie Porter.

When she was a teenager and worked at a small, family-owned café outside of Napa, a seed was sown. A seed that germinated over the years as she worked as an auditor for Fox Studios and traveled the world, including France where she “loved the balance of lavender and coffee.” Germinated as she met Charlie Porter. Discussions began, research was started. Melanie focused on local vendors and noticed an abundance of honey producers. She found lavender honey. The picture became clearer.

Nicole’s Market and Café in South Pasadena was a huge inspiration, Melanie tells us. She was amazed when she visited and found edible lavender, as well as so many other unusual, hard-to-find items, and the setting was welcoming and casual. When considering their own eatery, Melanie wanted something small, quaint, classy yet casual, community-oriented, and focusing on families.

And this is where Lavender and Honey’s toasts come in…

 

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The afternoon of our visit, we observed a mom with a baby strapped to her chest and with a toddler sitting alongside her, all sharing a toast with peanut butter and slices of banana. At the next table, a young teenager was devouring the Nutella and banana toast. After only being open for two months, Lavender and Honey has been included on the list of top 5 “toast” eateries in the county. Melanie was surprised to read that the other toasts on the list cost up to $9. By contrast, H & L’s toasts are quite affordable at $3 a piece. And though the toasts aren’t large, three bucks feels like throw-away money, and we could imagine ordering two or three (to tide us over until dinner).

 

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We chose the L & H toast (pictured above). Biting on a walnut chunk in the toast, the nutty flavor mixes well with the sweet and thick honey drizzle and the tangy creaminess of goat cheese. A sprinkling of fresh lavender, though flowery (be forewarned), melds wonderfully with the various flavors. We eyed a woman indulging in the Pasadena toast with mashed avocado, salt and pepper, and red jalapeno pepper. She judged it delicious and said the red pepper added just the right pop without being overwhelmingly spicy. The Classic toast is artisan bread with sweet butter and the week’s featured jam, which this day was chipotle strawberry.

We also ordered a sandwich, the Italiano with 5 different meats—salami, ham, mortadella, proscuitto, and capicola. The flavors, distinct but complimentary, are the sandwich’s greatest strength. Nothing was wrong with the fresh ciabatta and accompanying lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickle and pepperoncini, but we could’ve used a splash of red wine vinegar, maybe a dotting of mustard, and definitely some fresh black pepper. But don’t misunderstand, the sandwich was devoured tout de suite.

 

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Other sandwiches include The Parisian, a classic with ham and swiss, The Caprese, Sriracha Roast Beef (Nate’s favorite), and a design your own option for $8. We thank Stephanie and Nate who were friendly, patient, and informative as we kept asking, “What’s the…?” as we perused the chalkboard menu (supposedly a printed copy with descriptions is in the works).

The kids’ bar has milk and cookies, nutella banana toast, toast with seasonal jam, and mini Italiano and Parisian sandwiches. Baked goods (including gluten-free choices) are thanks to Poppy Cake Baking Company, Berolina Bakery, and Rising Hearts, though not a lot were left to display by the time we arrived mid-afternoon.

A hot chocolate bar will be welcome this winter with about a dozen different varieties including peanut butter, campfire, cupcake, tuxedo, and white coconut. On the cold side, L & H offers French lavender lemonade.

Coffee looms large, of course, and patrons may get drip, pour over, French press, cafe au lait, and cold brew, beside all the variously flavored options. Though intrigued, we couldn’t convince ourselves to stray into the sweetened drink arena, so we ordered our standard, an iced latte. Made with Klatch coffee, it was spot on, distinctly rich and creamy—and made us tremendously happy on a day where right outside, one little push through the glass door, we were wilting under temperatures in the mid-90s.

 

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For purchase are honey, olive oil, mustard, and jams from M. Greenwood: spicy orange, salted bourbon, fig, and summer berry. Sweet Lady Cook with flavors like lavender strawberry and stawberry chipotle are small batch preserves from Santa Barbara. And, large bags of Klatch coffee.

 

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We thank Melanie who was friendly, easy-going, and willing to have an impromptu chat about Honey and Lavender, the area’s new “boutique coffee bar and deli.” And we look forward to returning for the French lavender breve—espresso and lavender topped with steamed half-and-half. Just the thought of this combo is enough to make us lightheaded.

Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar, 1383 Washington Blvd., just east of Hill Ave., Pasadena 91104. Tel.: 626.529.5571. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. LavenderandHoneyEspresso. See more pictures and find daily specials on L & H’s Facebook page.

Free parking (a plus!).

 

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“This may be our favorite piece of fan mail yet!” says Melanie, holding 4-year-old Avery Yee’s drawing of Melanie with her rainbow coffee mug and a rainbow cupcake…

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1 Response for “Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar”

  1. Elissa says:

    Love the coffee, food and neighborhood atmosphere. What we have needed for along time.

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