>> Normandie Country Bakery | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 20 June 2022

Normandie Country Bakery

FRANCE 🇫🇷
Cochran Avenue facade

COVID-19 UPDATE: All of the dining here takes place on an airy covered outdoor patio. Staff are still wearing masks and some tables have plexiglass dividers between them.

You may have driven by Chef Josette's ode to French cooking and baking a hundred times without noticing anything but the High Notes cannabis shop on the corner that grabs the attention. The faded French flag that flies in front of her establishment is just not sharp enough to come into focus while cruising by on Jefferson Blvd. past the gigantic Restaurant Depot.

But this business has been here at the southern edge of West Adams since before people were writing Yelp reviews and George W. Bush and Al Gore were running against each other in 2000. Other restaurants and bakeries have come and gone under her brand, but now the business is concentrated here and in the large kitchen which takes up most of the space, meaning all dining takes place outside.

Outdoor dining on the covered patio

While you sit at a table, it is likely someone will walk in to buy a single baguette to return home with. The only things missing are the Paris street scene, a beret, and maybe a cigarette in their mouth. The coffee is also good but unfortunately is served in a paper to go cup, reminding you even more that you are far from France despite the attempts.

But forget all that and take a look at the pastries before sitting down and imagine what your dessert will look like after a breakfast or lunch on the patio. Chef Josette also vacuum packs many of her favorite dinner items like duck confit and sells them in individual portions to take home and reheat. Sometimes you might find boudin blanc, a white sausage that made with chicken, truffles, eggs, and milk.

Onion soup

A big cup of onion soup ($10.40, above) is a good move, usually made with meat stock but here tasting as if it could cater to vegetarians. The rich, peppery broth is covered by croutons and plenty of melted Swiss that creates unbreakable strings when pulled from the cup. A bread basket will arrive with some sliced sections of the chef's delicious baguette, perfect for dipping into the onion broth.

If you have not indulged in breakfast pastries like the very tasty croissants with or without chocolate inside, there may be more room than just for soup, in which case you should look for the specialties section of the menu and enjoy the unreal French toast or quiche lorraine.

Croque monsieur

The kitchen also puts out a mean croque monsieur ($16.64, above), a sandwich that can definitely not be picked up. Their is ham and Swiss cheese between layers of bread, but what weighs this down and makes it special is the béchamel sauce on top, slightly charred during baking.

The ham inside the croque monsieur and in other items like the crêpes may appear visually like the packaged stuff you can grab from the nearest Food 4 Less, but when you have it in your mouth a full smoky flavor proves it is much more special than that.

La Normande crêpe

In the United States, Bretagne is known for the place that crêpes come from, but nextdoor Normandie eats them just as much and of course there are rivalries. Chef Josette offers a crêpe (or "galette" as the savory versions are known in France) named for both provinces, but since she is from Normandie and that name is on the awning, start with La Normande ($16.64, above).

Galettes use buckwheat flour rather than regular flour which works better for sweet crêpes. The buckwheat combines well with La Normande, made with more of that smoky ham and Swiss cheese, which is hard to get enough of during visits here.

La Normande Crêpe with ham and swiss (interior view)

Mill-feuille with crème brûlée top?

When it is time for pastries, there are plenty of options, both traditional and more modern takes like this mille-feuille that seems to be topped by a crisp baked crème brûlée. You can also take many of the items home if there is no room, like small sleeves of macarons ($6.24, below), which are absolutely unmissable for fans of the dessert.

While not enjoyed during this visit, do not miss the chef's country-style pâté, which she has been making since her days as a teenage in Normandie, long before she ever thought about being in the United States. Her brand has a pâté label that has existed since 1986, but you can also get it in a simple sandwich that includes mustard and cornichons. Pretty much anything you might be craving from the French part of the world is done in some form at this little French oasis in West Adams.

Macarons

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