I stopped for lunch today at La Bou. For the longest time I thought La Bou was a massive nation-wide chain. Only when I was removing all the big chains from my list early on into this blog did I discover that it was actually just a Sacramento-area company which reaches up 80 to Auburn and East on 50 to El Dorado Hills at the extreme edges of it’s territory. In Roseville we have just one, located in the Hobby Lobby shopping center on the Santa Clara Drive side. The other one down Douglas is just over the border into Granite Bay, which I remembered just before heading out, and I avoided repeating the mistake I made with The Habit by going to the proper location on Santa Clara.
I arrived at about 11:20. This La Bou has a spot at the end of the building which gives it a big wrap-around area of outside seating. There weren’t many customers there when I showed up, maybe just over a dozen, but being nice out more than half of them were outside. I missed out on a good opportunity to take some photos of the restaurant when it was pretty empty early on because a steady stream of customers flowed in after I had placed my order. I try to avoid taking photos with customers in it whenever I can. I did get a clean shot down the side area which should give you an idea of what it’s like inside, if you’ve never been in a La Bou. This location is a big one. The dining room wraps entirely around the kitchen, with large wings on both sides of the building and lots of open spaces in between.
I took some time looking over the menu. I kind of figured I would get a sandwich and either a salad or a bowl of soup. The salads menu is not detailed at all, only listing the names of salads. Some are self explanatory, but I would have liked to see what was in each anyway. Their online menu is much better. I was pleased to see they had Thai Iced Tea on the drinks menu. I’ve been on a Thai Tea kick recently. They have a good selection of other beverages including lots of hot & cold coffees. Years ago when I opened Round Table in the mornings I would swing through the Granite Bay La Bou drive through and get a White Mocha to kick off the morning.
Just a moment after I started reading the menu, one of the employees turned around, noticed me and greeted me, waiting by the register for me to be ready. Eventually I stepped up and placed my order. I went with the sandwich I pretty much always get here, turkey on a croissant (all sandwiches are served with mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and tomato with choice of bread: croissant, baguette, sourdough or whole wheat)[$6.50]. With that I got a small bowl of Creamy Tomato Bisque [$3.70] and the Thai Iced Tea [$2.95]. I was given my receipt with order number and she said she’d have my tea out on this side of the counter in a moment. In just a few minutes, which I spent meandering around the dining room and deciding where I wanted to sit, my number was called and almost simultaneously at the other end of the counter my tea was ready, being mixed up to it’s uniform orange color by a few twirls of her wrist before setting it down. I grabbed both and headed to a table near one of several doors and windows, grabbing a spoon and napkins from the end of the counter on the way.
The tomato bisque was just a little too hot to eat right away, so I slid that aside to cool off and started with the sandwich. I don’t come to La Bou very often, but when I get this sandwich it’s always very consistent. Even between the different locations I can expect pretty much the same exact quality and proportions. It’s not the big, filling sandwich that you find at Beach Hut or Mr. Pickles, or of the quality that a place like Better Foods Deli serves up, but it’s a very reliable and satisfying one. The lettuce was nice and crisp and the tomatoes ripe and juicy. There was just the right amount of both mayo and mustard (some dijon-type). Enough to taste each in every bite but not overpower the turkey or be squirting out the sides when you take a bite. The turkey was standard, thin-sliced deli turkey, but good nonetheless. The croissant was nice and flaky, and had that nice buttery flavor to it. The creamy tomato bisque had cooled down after I had eaten half of the sandwich. In it were a half dozen croutons which, on top of being soft to start with, had by now soaked up the soup and were mushy little sponges. Served alongside were a couple slices of bread to dip. This tomato bisque was quite good, above average for sure, but it was lacking just slightly on the creaminess and was a touch thinner than I would have liked.
One thing I’ve never figured out about La Bou is if you’re supposed to clear your own table or not. I think the general consensus in this country is if the restaurant has customer garbage cans than you should do it yourself. No La Bou I’ve been to seem to have garbage cans or clearly defined places for trays to go. What they do have is a cart with tubs and a garbage on it, and I’ve always put my stuff there when I was done since I’ve seen others doing the same. This visit included, I’ve never walked out of a La Bou being anything but satisfied. Nothing less, nothing more. The Thai tea was a nice change up that I haven’t had here before.