These days, small luxuries are what count. A leisurely bath. A note from the library saying that novel you reserved months ago is now yours for three weeks. A gin and tonic sipped in front of the sunset. Or a cup of excellent coffee enjoyed with a buttery morning pastry. I don't have the time to indulge very often, but when I do, it starts the day off on a brilliant note. Here are three of my favorite spots.
Short Cake: The sweet shop adjunct to the late Amy Pressman's burger spot, Short Order, is fast becoming my go-to spot in the original Farmers Market. First of all, sorry Starbucks, they have great single-origin coffee overseen by master barista Nik Krankl. And oh those pastries. The butter croissant is absolute killer; one bite and you've got shards all over your front. I love the muffins made with Strauss yogurt and blueberries too. But the one pastry I crave enough for a detour is the "buttercup," croissant dough formed into a muffin shape and topped with a sprinkling of raw sugar. What a breakfast!
6333 W. 3rd St., Stall No. 316, Los Angeles; (323) 761-7976; http://www.shortcakela.com. Opens at 9 a.m. daily.
In an earlier version of this article, the name Nik Krankl was spelled Nick Krankl —
Clementine: I know I shouldn't reveal this, but after a visit to my dentist in Century City, I like to treat myself to something at Clementine just across the way. The Intelligentsia coffee is good and strong, served in thick-walled ceramic mugs so it stays warm while you read the paper. I love Annie Miller's crumbly apricot-ginger or cranberry semolina scones, but I also have to mention the sunny corn muffins. When in doubt, go for the old-fashioned banana bread — the way my mother used to make it, with walnuts. And on Saturdays, look for the cinnamon rolls — with or without raisins — glazed with a subtle brown butter icing.
1751 Ensley Ave., Los Angeles; (310) 552-1080; http://www.clementineonline.com. Open 7 a.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. Saturdays.
Bouchon Bakery: When Bouchon Bakery first opened in Napa Valley, I happened to be staying at a little bed-and-breakfast next door and quickly developed a habit. Now we've got one in Beverly Hills. And happily, the public parking structure next door offers two hours of free parking and an elevator that arrives right outside Bouchon's doors. All the better to pop in for a buttery croissant (less flaky than Short Cake's) or, my favorite, the flaky pain au raisin. But the real sleeper is kovign amann, a pastry made with croissant dough and glazed with butter and sugar.
235 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 271-9910, Ext. 621; http://www.bouchonbakery.com/beverly-hills. Opens at 7 a.m. daily.