Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Church Key: Fun Brunch Spot on Sunset

Sundays.  For some, it's the 'day after', when you pull on your darkest pair of sunglasses to cover up the bloodshot eyes from the so-good-you-almost-can't-remember-a-thing night before, and drag yourself to the nearest feeding station for sustenance.  For us, Sunday IS our Fun day - brunch being a meal to look forward to, our last bit(e) of carefree indulgence - in the culinary sense - before we gear up for another hectic work week.

So my brunching BFF, Curses, and I were excited to get an invite to check out The Church Key, on a sunny afternoon, in a fun WeHo space overlooking Sunset Blvd.  With all the buzz around the dim sum inspired cart service at dinnertime, and creative offerings like Pig's Ear Cheetos - we couldn't wait to see what they would bring to the table for brunch.

As soon as we sat down, we were greeted by the cocktail cart, complete with vintage-inspired PanAm wrap and 'stewardess'. 

The cart was loaded with what looked like hotel shampoo bottles, but were actually single serve drink mixes - to be combined with sparkling wine to create your brunch cocktail of choice.

Just like dim sum carts do, there is a log sheet, which each cart's server marks with their own unique stamp, to track your orders.

Unlike the throwaway tear sheets at dim sum houses, The Church Key prints theirs on card stock with their logo - and you can keep the final sheet as a souvenir if you want. 

And yes, that means there are more brunch carts to come - they roam around the restaurant and you can flag them down if you see something that catches your fancy - more on that later!
We enjoyed our St Germain elderflower sparkling wine cocktails.
Food at brunch is not limited to what's served on the roaming carts - there is a full made to order menu as well, of entree sized offerings.  Our first was the Grilled Asparagus with Sunny Side Up Egg, Smoked Tomato Hollandaise and Crispy Shallots ($15) because Curses loves veggies and I love eggs benedict, so this was our way of meeting in the middle.  Loved the crunchy crispy creamy textures here, punctuated by the smokiness and slight heat of the hollandaise sauce.
Next up was Jeffrey's Biscuits and Gravy ($18) with housemade chicken sausage, sunny side up eggs, and American cheese.  This was tasty, and the portion size was very generous - but was a bit too heavy for us and wasn't a standout in terms of flavor - it wasn't one that we left raving about.

Then came the showstopping Toad in the Hole "Croque Madame" ($18) - with Gruyere fondue and smoked bacon. Every element of this - from the bread sliced to perfect thickness, perfectly buttered and toasted to a golden brown, to the cheese sauce at just the right consistency - light enough not to overwhelm, substantial enough to mark its presence, sprinkled with finely chopped chives for visual and texture contrast - to the strips of bacon skillfully cooked to be crispy yet still juicy, tensile yet not overly chewy...
...all yielding to the beautiful egg cooked right into the center of the toast, with its gorgeous, sunny, runny yolk.

This one made me want to lock down our next brunch excursion to The Church Key before we had even finished eating.
Throughout our meal, the carts kept roaming around (all carrying off menu items for that fun element of surprise!), and we had spied lovely pastries that we definitely needed to try.

I love cart service in that you get to 'browse before you buy' and you feel like you get to choose 'the best one' of whatever it is that your heart desires. It's also a great conversation piece, especially helpful if you're eating with people you don't know very well - note to self for the next Meet Up.

After our savories, we were finally ready, and flagged down a friendly server to guide us through the offerings.

There were pain au chocolate, cinnamon buns, all fresh out of the oven.  But I'm a sucker for Monkey Bread, which you don't see all that often on LA menus.

This version is nothing short of fantastic.  It's served hot, pillowy, and despite the delicious all over glaze of caramel and cinnamon, the different sections pull apart very easily.  So incredibly delicious, and another item that I would say is a 'must get' at The Church Key.
Aside from the food and service, we loved the ambience as well.  The design aesthetic kind of reminded us of Hamptons meets Restoration Hardware.  It's airy, bright and cheery in the front dining room...

...with a lovely communal table for those in a big group, or just feeling social.  Definitely some great people / car watching as well over the Sunset Strip.
In the back area, the refined whimsy is more pronounced, with leather couches where you would normally expect chairs, and a random vintage telephone booth in the very back.

Mismatched dishware add pops of color to the design scheme to keep things from appearing too serious.

Sometimes, when a place is known for introducing a relatively new way of doing things (western food served up in carts), people worry that the food becomes secondary to the 'marketing hook'.  I would say that The Church Key strikes a balance here: fun dining experience, paired with some really good food!

All in all, a great new brunch spot that we hope to visit again very soon!

*Disclaimer:  This meal was hosted.


The Church Key
8730 W Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069
Ph: 424.249.3700
OpenTable: Look for reservations (and points!) here


Church Key on Urbanspoon


  1. I’ve been curious about this place - I miss Dim Sum carts!

  2. I can't believe I haven't been there yet. Looks really fun.



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