A Baker's Brunch

Eating bread and eggs at a pizza bar

Bread and eggs are the elemental foundations of many breakfast dishes.

So it's no wonder that Stella Barra chef Jeff Mahin, best known for the long-risen pizza dough he makes with flour milled from a secret supply of California wheat, would turn to bready basics with his new brunch menu.

Frying and baking eggs is quick kitchen work, but for a dedicated baker like Mahin, the proof of a successful breakfast is in the hours spent making fresh bread for the restaurant. In advance of the first brunch service, last Saturday, Mahin was shoving rounds and pans of dough into the oven at 4 a.m., baking the rough-hewn loaves and delicate, buttery brioche his menu is based around.

There's a thick slab of chewy crusted toast blanketed in slices of country ham, mustard, Mornay sauce and bacon aioli; the heavily sauced rendition of a croque-madame ($13) is finished with its requisite crown, a sunny-side-up egg. More in the pizza realm is the toad-in-the-hole ($12), which is topped with a coarse tomato jam that's a touch sweet–a flavor balanced by the bitter salad accompaniment.

An orange-caramel bread pudding takes Mahin's bread-and-eggs approach to an appropriately sweet finish. 

Stella Barra, 2000 Main St., Santa Monica; 310-396-9250 or stellabarra.com