126 W. Grand Avenue, Escondido
Grand Avenue, downtown Escondido's de facto Main Street, has been (what I consider) blossoming in recent years, with the opening of a good coffee shop (Kettle Coffee & Tea) and a good brewery and taphouse (Plan 9 Ale House). I spent some time at each recently, and when I looked around for something to eat between my coffee and beer(s), discovered the street's had a pretty decent French bakery for years. Funny how I might never have known were it not for my latent interest in Escondido beverages that don't rhyme with 'scone'.
A Delight of France makes a lot of croissants, baguettes and pastries, and they do it well enough that locals like to sing their praises. They also offer a typically French-styled menu, by which I mean American French bistro fare.
For breakfast you might choose among eggs benedict, crepes and brioche French toast. Lunch offers French onion soup, niçoise salad and boeuf bourguignon. Naturally, there's a quiche of the day, and a glass case dares you to not finish your meal with a sweet napoleon, opera, or éclair.
The dining room and patio feel French enough without getting too cutesy about it, and considering the reasonable prices, I'd say they don't need to change a thing. Being a Francophile of the most gluttonous order, I split the so-called French deli plate with a friend, though I insisted on calling the $10.75 dish "charcuterie," with its selection of saucissons, pickled vegetables and cheeses. I also tried a small soup du jour — in this case a potato leek ($3.75) — and made my coup de grace with a pâté sandwich ($9.50).
The tasty little soup benefitted from generous peppering, and the deli plate from some bris, cornichons and olives. Neither were outstanding, make-a-date-to-come-back-here-and-eat-this kind of dishes, but they definitely kept me interested.
Had the bistro still been serving that brioche French toast at this late afternoon hour, I might never have tried the pâté sandwich, and would have missed out on the bakery's specialty: the croissant. I can't sit here and pretend it's the same class of flakey, buttery bread you may pick up at an every other block Parisian boulangerie, but for the sweet little shopping district in the center of Escondido, I'll toss it some praise. The large, slightly crisped-on-the-outside croissant held up quite well as a sandwich base, which it needed to, because the quarter-inch slab of pâté laid through the middle of it was rich, creamy and heavy. Hell, in retrospect that thing might have been closer to 13mm thick (aka, a half inch).
As pâtés go, it's also not one I'm going to shout about from the mountaintops, but you don't see a lot of this in San Diego County, let alone in such a generous portion. Getting a little pasty pork fix inside a flaky, crusty, air-light croissant in North County was — I'll go ahead and say it — an unexpected delight.