#159: La Bou Bakery & Cafe

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.

#136: Boudin SF

Today I went to Boudin SF, located in the Fountains.  This is one of numerous bakery/cafes spread throughout California and originating from the famous Boudin Bakery in San Francisco.  I’ve never eaten here or at the San Fransisco one despite having walked/driven past them both many times.  In fact, I wasn’t even really sure what they offered besides clam chowder and bread.  After a short search through the Fountains I found Boudin towards the back, across from Zocalo and Dave & Busters.

I headed in at around 4:45PM.  At first it didn’t seem like they had more than a couple customers, but once moved in a little further I could see about a dozen or so people siting in booths, which had been blocked by a display of bread.  I was surprised to see that they bake their own bread in-store.  The bakery is on display through windows in the entryway.  I figured they would have had daily deliveries from the mothership in San Francisco.  The wall behind the register is a nice display of some awesome looking fresh bread.

I waved the guy behind me forward as I was still looking over the menu.  He bought a loaf of Ciabatta to go.  The menu consists mainly of soups, salads and sandwiches.  They also have baguette burgers and grilled cheeses.  I knew I had to try the clam chowder bread bowl.  I also wanted to try a salad with it.  Under soups on the menu it says you can add a side Caesar or side spring salad for $2.49.  The soup itself is $6.49.  Above this I saw a soup & salad combo for $8.79 where you get to choose from all of their salads.  I felt like I was probably missing something here and asked the cashier why, for 19 cents less, you get a better selection.  She didn’t really have a reason, only confirmed that yes, that was correct and it’s really the better deal.  So I went ahead with the combo and chose the Goat Cheese & Apple salad (mixed greens, sliced Granny Smith apples, Laura Chenel goat cheese, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, white balsamic and citrus vinaigrette).  For beverages they have Coke products (with, interestingly, Dr Pepper rather than the expected Mr. Pibb) as well as various bottled juices and also a small selection of beer.

I paid and was handed a number on a coaster-like disc.  After filling up at the fountains I headed back to the front of the cafe where there are 4 tall tables by the window.  They have a good sized patio to the side of the building and a smaller one around the corner in the front.  My little coaster-number went into a stand in the table and within just a few minutes an employee was headed my way with a plate of food.  After setting it down at my table he asked if there was anything else he could get for me, and then was off to the kitchen again when I said I was all set.

On the crowded little plate was my bread bowl, a bit smaller than I was expecting, and a nice looking salad with lots of bright white goat cheese.  Additionally there was a little pad of butter, I assumed for use on the “lid” of the bread bowl.  The chowder was quite hot so I focused first on the salad.  I don’t know why I this didn’t cross my mind when I decided on this salad but I’m not crazy about apples in many things.  I like them just fine on their own, but to me they really seem out of place in just about everything but pie.  That said, I didn’t mind them here.  I do admit, however, that I ate all of them first so that I could enjoy the salad without them, haha.  It was really tasty.  The white balsamic and citrus vinaigrette was quite mild and enjoyable, not at all overly citrus-y, which I am leery about when I see “citrus” in any description.  All the greens were fresh and the toasted almonds tasted great.  The almonds were a nice contrast in texture to the super smooth and creamy goat cheese.  This cheese was very rich and I was careful to not get a huge gob of it with a small bite.  It seemed to be just slightly above room temperature and right on the edge of melting into a goo right there on my plate.  I thought that the cranberries, of which there were quite a lot, made the whole thing just a touch sweeter than necessary, but overall I thought this was a pretty good salad.

The clam chowder I was less enthusiastic about.  I think this is mostly due to it’s consistency, but a little based on the overall flavor.  Potatoes in it were the largest chunks by far.  They weren’t huge but they were much bigger than anything else.  The clams were very small, almost unnoticeable until I looked for them specifically.  I said in my Claim Jumper post that I’m a huge fan of their clam chowder bread bowl.  Compared to that one, Boudin’s just seemed kind of thin to me and had that ocean-y sent to it.  Claim Jumper’s is super creamy.  Boudin does have a big advantage though in their sourdough bowl.  It’s streets ahead of Claim Jumper’s that, in hindsight, is decent at best.  It seems noticeably fresher and more flavorful.  I enjoyed eating the lid after I had finished everything else.

Both of the employees I interacted with were very friendly, the service was fast and the restaurant, while already looking immaculate, was being constantly cleaned by one or two people the entire time I was there.  While this certainly wasn’t a home run, I saw a lot of potential.  I’d actually really like to come back and try a grilled cheese, sandwich or burger on their awesome sourdough.  I’ll update this post if/when I do that.

Website: http://www.boudinbakery.com/Boudin_SF

#82: Cafe Elletti

Last Monday I had a rare opportunity to be back in Roseville pretty early due to having a Dr. appointment after work.  I took advantage of it by crossing off the list a little cafe which has pretty limited hours.  Cafe Elletti is a tiny little joint in an office building near the corner of Douglas and Eureka.  I only found it because I was doing generic “food” searches on Google maps.  Unless you worked in the building you’d probably never know it was there.

I headed in at about 3PM.  From the front doors of the main building it’s straight down the center hallway and the last door on the right.  Inside there is a tall counter loaded with chips, bagels, teas and other things.  I could barely see the woman that greeted me.  Over to the left by the register I had a clearer view of the menu on the wall and told her I would need a minute to decide what I was getting.  She resumed tidying up as they got ready to close for the day (Mon-Thurs 7:30-3:30, Fri 7:30-2:30).  They have a larger selection of sandwiches than I would have expected for a little place like this (see the menu here).  I decided on the Turkey, Cranberry & Cream Cheese sandwich (on sourdough walnut wheat bread).  I had a choice of chips or cole slaw.  I went with the cole slaw to continue to explore my taste for it.

There are about a half a dozen small tables in Cafe Elletti as well as some outdoor seating (which looked like it may have been closed or under construction, there was caution tape visible right outside the door).  I was the only one there and took a seat near an inside window.  Each table has a box of kleenex and decorated salt & pepper shakers.  I realized I forgot to get a beverage but didn’t feel like doing another transaction.  They have fountain sodas and a cooler with a standard array of bottled options.  There was also a freezer to the right of this that had a sign reading something like “Ice Cream Inside”.

Probably no more than five minutes after ordering I had my sandwich delivered.  The first thing I noticed was how oddly colored the bread was.  It almost had a blue or purple tinge to it.  I think it even threw off the white balance on my camera.  There was nothing wrong with it though and it tasted fine.  That’s just the way it looks, I guess.  The sandwich was extremely simple, the only ingredient I could tell that was in addition to turkey, cranberry & cream cheese was lettuce.  If there was mayo or some other condiment I didn’t notice it.  Overall it was decent.  The turkey was moist and there was plenty of cream cheese and cranberry sauce.  If it had mayo, it could have used some more.  The bread was good but was a little on the dry side, which might be normal for that kind.  Looking back at the menu it seems that this sandwich should have also come with tomatoes, onions and pickles, I’m not sure why it didn’t have them.  Tomatoes and onions would have been a nice addition.  The cole slaw was good, if small, and I’m glad I’m expanding my horizons in that direction.

I think there are probably better sandwich choices on the menu, and of course they also have breakfast options at well that I didn’t try.  I wasn’t too impressed by this sandwich Cafe Elletti, but that said I would  gladly welcome such an eatery in my own workplace.  To have such close and quick access to lots of breakfast, lunch and snack options would be really nice, even if it’s not mind blowing.  I hope the workers of 2240 Douglas appreciate the convenience they have right there 😉

Scanned Menu: Click Here