Poppy + Rose warms your soul

Last Sunday I enjoyed a comforting Southern style brunch at Poppy + Rose in DTLA’s Flower District. My friend Lawrence raved about this restaurant months ago, when she excitedly told me that the owners Chef Michael and Kwini Reed are going to co-host Masters of Taste at the Rose Bowl Stadium on April 2. Another friend raved about the Benedicts and mimosas at Poppy + Rose. Chef Michael grew up in Oxnard and trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. He cooked at The Modern, an acclaimed restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan while still at culinary school.

When he came back to Southern California, he worked at David Myer’s Michelin-star rated Sona, as well Xiomara per a recommendation from Chef Nancy Silverton. He met Kwini while they both worked at The Standard Hollywood and The Standard Downtown. They married and later created a high-end catering company, ‘Root of All Food’ specializing in high-end boutique catering and opened Poppy + Rose, and Poppy + Seed in Anaheim’s Packing District.

The atmosphere is cheery with tables for two next to the window adorned with the Poppy + Rose logo and a rooster. In the center are two long communal wooden tables under the eye-catching corrugated metal ceiling adding ambiance to the room.

The friendly staff prepare hot coffee drinks, lemonade with fresh fruit and other beverages. Even though Chef Michael and Kwini weren’t in on the Sunday we dined, their staff did a great job preparing menu items and delivering them quickly to guests.

I ordered a crab and avocado Benedict served on a house made buttermilk biscuits. Cut in half, both slices were topped with smashed avocado and succulent white crab meat. Two perfectly poached eggs were placed on top of the crab, before a pour of bright yellow hollandaise sauce and sprinkling of chopped chives. What makes this Benedict better than most is the flaky warm biscuit instead of the traditional English muffin. It was served with mixed greens dressed in a pleasing light vinaigrette. Other Benedicts on the menu include fried chicken Benedict; avocado with egg; bacon Benedict and one with salmon and tomato.

My husband ordered the Caesar salad with tender buttermilk-brined fried chicken thigh meat wrapped in a four tortilla. The handheld sandwich was served with a chunky potato salad that had a nice crunch from chopped onions and celery.

Guests nearby were enjoying buttermilk brined fried chicken with waffles and biscuits with a generous pour of gravy. The gravy is enhanced with pork sausage or mushrooms. It can be ordered with two sunny side up eggs and a side green salad.

Creative dishes include the Kitchen Sink bowl topped with a sunny side up egg on jasmine and basmati brown rice, quinoa, chopped sweet potato, kale, green onion, herbs, pickled carrots bacon and barebecued pulled pork. A healthier bowl is the Brassica salad filled with kale, Brussels sprouts, radicchio, bright red pomegranate seeds, fennel, citrus, sliced radish, almonds and a citrus vinaigrette. They also offer a grilled vegetable sandwich on ciabatta bread.

Heartier sandwiches include the smoked New York strip steak sandwich sliced with melted Swiss cheese, red onions, arugula and horseradish aioli that is served on rustic white bread.

Throughout our brunch the restaurant continued to fill tables with locals who live in downtown Los Angeles, along with those who drove further like me, to enjoy fluffy buttermilk pancakes with bacon and eggs, or avocado and crab Benedict. Many were clinking glasses filled with sparkling mimosas saying cheers to a wonderful meal.

Since Poppy + Rose is open until 3 p.m., The Reed’s other restaurant, Poppy + Seed is open for dinner in Anaheim. It’s just five minutes from Disneyland in the Anaheim Packing District.

Starting on Feb. 10 through Feb. 16, Poppy + Rose is debuting new themed beverages and cocktails for guests to enjoy during brunch Valentine’s week. The Poppy Bomb is a play on a French 75. The Rosa Fresa is a refreshing and creamy strawberry and citrus drink made with rum and a chocolate rim. There is also a Pink Rose Latte that can be served hot or iced. It’s made with espresso, milk, rose and vanilla syrup.

Poppy + Rose offers a $5 parking validation with a minimum $15 purchase. Street parking is free every Sunday.

Meet Chef Michael and Kwini Reed at Masters of Taste for its sixth annual food and beverage festival on April 2 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Tickets are available at MastersofTasteLA.com. $$ 765 Wall St., (213)995-7799.

This review was featured in the Beverly Press in February 2023.

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