Loic Restaurant and Patisserie

>> Saturday, May 14, 2011

Date of Dining: 4/24/2011 
Price: ~ $15 per person for breakfast

Location: 18021 Calle Ambiente, San Diego, CA 92067

The Quick Bit:
+ Run by an award-winning pastry chef
+ Wide selection of French Pastries
Δ Prices could be more reasonable
Δ Experience could be more "magical"
Δ Location could be more convenient

I headed to Loic Restaurant and Patisserie on Easter Sunday with high hopes. Based on what some people had said and the accolades received by Chef Loic Laffargue, I was hoping to have an awesome French restaurant experience that would take me back to my time in Paris.

Loic Laffargue has been training as a baker since the age of 14 and was recognized by the American Culinary Federation's Western Pastry Chef of the year in 2008. Prior to opening his own restaurant Chef Laffargue was the Executive Pastry Chef at Barona Resort and Casino.

While the restaurant is located in the middle of nowhere, I enjoyed a pleasant Sunday morning drive through Rancho Santa Fe that actually relaxed me and increased my anticipation of what I hoped would be a great meal.

When we arrived at the restaurant, I was slightly put off by the fact that I had to enter the Patisserie to order and then sit in the restaurant to dine. This seemed awfully casual for a restaurant that charges the prices that were being asked for breakfast. I was also slightly confused at their breakfast menu as everything was called a "frittata" which completely confused my expectation of what food I would be getting. After ordering, we moved to the dining room to wait for the food to arrive.

Note: I didn't actually eat all the food, but I was able to take photos of the different orders.

Croissant Frittata:
Croissant Frittata - spinach, tomatoes, scrambled eggs inside a crossant
Pesto Frittata:
Pesto Frittata - Tomatoes, Onions, Mushrooms, Pesto sauce with scrambed eggs
My order was the Continental Breakfast (at least I think that's what they called it) which also came with orange juice and coffee. I understand that most restaurants sell you pre-brewed coffee and packaged orange juice, but when I ordered these at the Patisserie, I was actually shown that the coffee was pre-brewed and the orange juice came out of a gallon jug. Since I was going to leave to sit in the restaurant, please pretend that you're serving something of higher caliber at the exorbitant prices instead of just casually illustrating the 300% markup on the glass of orange juice in front of my eyes.

Continental Breakfast:
Continental Breakfast - Scrambled Eggs with black forest ham
So obviously, none of these orders actually were frittatas (or at least fit my definition of a frittata); I would have classified these as more of a "scramble." I'm guessing the use of frittata was to address the fact that the eggs were slightly overcooked. However, they were not so overcooked that I didn't enjoy them. The eggs were also well-seasoned and not overly salty for having the extra salt component of the black forest ham.

As to the croissant that came with my eggs, I was sorely disappointed. I was transported somewhere, but it wasn't back to that cafe in Paris on the Champs Elysees. Instead I was transported to the garbage compactor aboard the Death Star screaming for C3PO to save me.

If you've ever purchased freshly baked croissants, you know that the first day you have them, they should have the nice flaky crunch when you bite into it and the inside should have the rich luxurious layered butter flavor. Furthermore, you know that when you leave those croissants overnight and eat them the next day, the flaky crust has turned soft and the layers of bread inside no longer have same the well-defined buttery flavor.

Cross Section of croissant
The croissant I was served had all the characteristics of a day old croissant. The bread inside didn't have any rich buttery flavor and tasted slightly stale. The only part of the croissant that had any sort of crunch was the middle portion, which was burnt.

If there was any explanation to why this happened, I imagine it would because Loic was not present at the restaurant. Since Loic visits farmer's markets to sell his pastry, my guess is that he took a lot of the freshly baked pastry with him and the rest was eaten by the early Easter crowd prior to when I arrived.

Figuring this was the reason I received poor pastry, I decided to purchase some additional items from the Patisserie to go. Without going into too many details, these items failed to impress me any more than the croissant (although they were certainly fresh).

While I'm willing to write off my experience as bad timing (and Loic's absence), I don't think that the food served at Loic is anywhere near the caliber of Cavaillon. As for returning, I don't think I will return until Loic has been given ample time to work out the kinks. Perhaps he was too distracted by the new dinner menu to put enough concentration on the pastry items in which he built his reputation. If you go to Loic, I think there's definitely a good possibility you will get better pastry than I did, but be prepared to pay a lot for the privilege.


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
None of the reviews are meant to dissuade you from trying anything by yourself, but simply to provide information for you to make a more informed choice.
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