Toast Woodland Hills

Lodge Bread Debuts at the Valley Country Mart in Woodland Hills

Alex Phaneuf and Or Amsalam, chef-partners in Culver City’s lauded Lodge Bread Co., recently expanded their vision to Valley Country Mart in Woodland Hills.

Culver City’s lauded Lodge Bread Co. has expanded to the new Valley Country Mart in Woodland Hills. The bakery-café, whose chef/owners (Alex Phaneuf and Or Amsalam) have received two nods as a James Beard Award Outstanding Baker semifinalist, is one of the first major tenants to open at the sprawling U-shaped plaza—and it’s already proving to be a big draw. (Blue Bottle and Valerie Confections also have plans to open.) I visited on opening morning, and there was already good crowd. I anticipate the plant-lined patio will be a hotspot—even in winter.

Lodge’s baking program revolves around whole-grain, house-milled, beautifully fermented loaves like seeded country, ancient grain and sprouted rye. They also rotate “super special” loaves that might culminate with Friday challah. The bakery also works wonders with sliced bread and baked goods.

For in-house or takeout dining, creamy local avocado stars on beautiful, thick-cut seeded country bread that’s also dressed with crunchy shaved radishes, olive oil and cracked black pepper. People with sweeter palates will appreciate their toast slathered with almond butter and drizzled with local honey. They also pile fluffy Bellwether Farms ricotta with seasonal jam … blueberry during my visit.

The albacore tuna sandwich is another marvel, featuring two slabs of country loaf containing lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, funky house-fermented sauerkraut and sliced Fontina.

The menu is fairly similar to the original Culver City café. Whole wood-fired pizzas are noticeably absent, but customers can take solace in pan pizza squares and flat pie slices. They’ve also added a new vegan Caesar salad, arugula salad with date dressing, a BLT with thick Nueske bacon and a roast beef sandwich with Cheddar.

The pastry-lined counter beckons from the moment you step inside. I was taken with their nutty buckwheat almond cake with peaches and raspberries embedded in the lid. The signature sourdough cinnamon roll slathered with frosting is also present, along with plenty of tempting cookies. Grab a cup of drip coffee or an expresso, and you’ll be in heaven.

20929 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills