4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Madeleine Cafe & Bakery: the French Starbucks

Everything from France

Croque Madame: most popular item
Croque Madame: most popular item

First order of the day: Do. Not. Look. In. The. Mirror.

Bit too much celebrating lately. So, second order of the day: belly up for a cup of real French coffee at Madeleine’s. Because, well, bit too much celebrating lately. And Madeleine’s is French. Real French, run by an actual Frenchman who swears he imports everything from France, from coffee to butter to wine to cheese, so you know it all don’t just taste French, it is French. Translation? Strong coffee.

Place

Madeleine Cafe & Bakery

240 South Cedros Avenue, San Diego

So here I am, outside this patio near one of the great sculptures of Cedros, a joyous girl running with a large bottle of champagne. She’s how I know I’ve arrived. She, and the black-and-orange plaque: “Madeleine, French Cafe & Bakery,” surrounded by bright orange chairs. And ooh. Three-legged tables. So they never wobble. No more jiggled coffee spilling on your legs. I swear. Every restaurateur should have these.

Lacy

Inside, the food menu’s on the wall. I mean, yes, could just go for a croissant. They make them here. Cost $4.50, even with almonds and chocolate. Or fougasse olive bread (think: focaccia). Costs $6. Or hey, actual madeleines, $2.50 each. Menu’s divided into breakfast, eggs, crepes, salads, tartines, small plates, and main plates. And the prices, guess you have to say, are not bad for being in the “Design District.” Eggs “your way” on toast costs $8. French toast with berries is $10. “Parisienne omelette,” with French cooked ham and gruyere cheese, $11, or you can have it as a crepe, same price. The Salade Niçoise, with egg and tuna, is $13. And just to remind us this is a French joint, the first “small plate” is escargots ($12), and there’s a duck foie gras terrine made right here in-house. It is $14, but a pâté plate goes for only $8. Salmon and capers is $14, the raw (let’s not forget) filet mignon beef tartare is $15, and the most expensive item on the menu is a mixed platter of cheese and charcuterie for $28. Guess you could share this and be paying $14 each.

D’aagh: in the end, the pâté wins out. Hey, $8. It comes as two triangles of liver pate, plus seven cuts of baguette, four gherkins, and a splot of mustard.

Mystery maiden - Madeleine? - runs towards Design District

And out there in that sunlight, it hits the spot with the coffee I get ($3). Next time, I’m gonna try the duck terrine, though. Terrine’s usually made of bigger chunks of meat. In this case, duck breast.

Next time comes a few days later.

Same guy’s at the counter. Emmanuel. Frenchman, from Paris. Got a buddy, Steve, helping him out. Also French. And wow. Turns out Steve’s a European soccer star from one of the world’s top pro clubs, Paris St. Germain. “I was signing autographs after a game,” he says. “Manu [Emmanuel] was in a loge. I signed a photo for him. He said if ever I was in California to look him up.”

Pate, good-tasting and not bad value at $8. Made in-house

And then, they’re chattering away. Dang. You forget what a cool language French is. Then Steve’s handing a salad to this lady, Lacy. And with its sparkling strawberries sliced on top and slices of avo, it looks too délicieux for words.

“‘La Veggie,’” Lacy says. “I always have it.” It’s mainly spinach, arugula, goat cheese, cranberries, strawberries and walnuts. Costs $12, plus $2 for the avo.

By now, Lacy’s on a stool at the narrow wall-counter. “We Americans are so afraid of fat and flavor. The French have all the naughty stuff, but the good stuff too, and as part of a much more varied diet. You don’t see fat French kids. I’ve just ordered chicken goujon for mine.” She’s talking about chicken tenders. They come with French fries ($6).

“That should be Belgian fries,” says Lacy. “That’s who invented them, not the French.”

Steve, Emmanuel

Emmanuel comes around with a bottle of rose wine and refills her glass. “Thank you, Manu,” she says. “He gives a very generous pour here, and only French wines. Good. But everything here’s French, right?”

“Everything,” Emmanuel says, “including ingredients. Flour, butter, cheeses. The jambon comes straight from Paris. That’s why things are a little more expensive.”

Wow. “So what’s most popular?” I ask. Emmanuel doesn’t hesitate. “Croque Monsieur,” he says. Good enough for me. I think about the salads, the snails, the duck foie gras, but a croque with all that cheese and ham? Can’t go wrong. But I go with the Croque Madame, which has an egg on top.

I go outside, sit down near a giant ancient Confucius statue, dead serious. The complete opposite of my prancing girl.

My croque comes with a vinaigrette salad, and gruyere cheese licking out from the thick breads and spilling over the ham splayed on top. The bread is lightly toasted but still very soft. Makes it an easy chew, and dang. If I wasn’t working, a glass of wine would just perfect the whole experience. Sigh. But Emmanuel’s coffee is a good second best.

Talking of which, have to say the very best croque I’ve ever had is still the one at Clayton’s Bistro in Coronado. Maybe because they marinate theirs overnight before baking. But this one gives it a run for its money.

It turns out Emmanuel owned three French restaurants in Hong Kong. Lived there for years. He thought about doing the same when he got here. “But you utter the words, ‘French restaurant,’ and what do people think? Heavy linens, expensive food. They usually don’t succeed here. So, suddenly I had this idea: ‘I’m going to create the French Starbucks! But best coffee, and everything real French.’”

Gotta go. The dancing girl looks like she’s saying, “You’ve got work to do!” Confucius is nodding.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Covid's game of chicken in classical music

San Diego Symphony still on for January 28 and 29
Next Article

Sapience, Augustana

Events January 23-January 26, 2022
Croque Madame: most popular item
Croque Madame: most popular item

First order of the day: Do. Not. Look. In. The. Mirror.

Bit too much celebrating lately. So, second order of the day: belly up for a cup of real French coffee at Madeleine’s. Because, well, bit too much celebrating lately. And Madeleine’s is French. Real French, run by an actual Frenchman who swears he imports everything from France, from coffee to butter to wine to cheese, so you know it all don’t just taste French, it is French. Translation? Strong coffee.

Place

Madeleine Cafe & Bakery

240 South Cedros Avenue, San Diego

So here I am, outside this patio near one of the great sculptures of Cedros, a joyous girl running with a large bottle of champagne. She’s how I know I’ve arrived. She, and the black-and-orange plaque: “Madeleine, French Cafe & Bakery,” surrounded by bright orange chairs. And ooh. Three-legged tables. So they never wobble. No more jiggled coffee spilling on your legs. I swear. Every restaurateur should have these.

Lacy

Inside, the food menu’s on the wall. I mean, yes, could just go for a croissant. They make them here. Cost $4.50, even with almonds and chocolate. Or fougasse olive bread (think: focaccia). Costs $6. Or hey, actual madeleines, $2.50 each. Menu’s divided into breakfast, eggs, crepes, salads, tartines, small plates, and main plates. And the prices, guess you have to say, are not bad for being in the “Design District.” Eggs “your way” on toast costs $8. French toast with berries is $10. “Parisienne omelette,” with French cooked ham and gruyere cheese, $11, or you can have it as a crepe, same price. The Salade Niçoise, with egg and tuna, is $13. And just to remind us this is a French joint, the first “small plate” is escargots ($12), and there’s a duck foie gras terrine made right here in-house. It is $14, but a pâté plate goes for only $8. Salmon and capers is $14, the raw (let’s not forget) filet mignon beef tartare is $15, and the most expensive item on the menu is a mixed platter of cheese and charcuterie for $28. Guess you could share this and be paying $14 each.

D’aagh: in the end, the pâté wins out. Hey, $8. It comes as two triangles of liver pate, plus seven cuts of baguette, four gherkins, and a splot of mustard.

Mystery maiden - Madeleine? - runs towards Design District

And out there in that sunlight, it hits the spot with the coffee I get ($3). Next time, I’m gonna try the duck terrine, though. Terrine’s usually made of bigger chunks of meat. In this case, duck breast.

Next time comes a few days later.

Same guy’s at the counter. Emmanuel. Frenchman, from Paris. Got a buddy, Steve, helping him out. Also French. And wow. Turns out Steve’s a European soccer star from one of the world’s top pro clubs, Paris St. Germain. “I was signing autographs after a game,” he says. “Manu [Emmanuel] was in a loge. I signed a photo for him. He said if ever I was in California to look him up.”

Pate, good-tasting and not bad value at $8. Made in-house

And then, they’re chattering away. Dang. You forget what a cool language French is. Then Steve’s handing a salad to this lady, Lacy. And with its sparkling strawberries sliced on top and slices of avo, it looks too délicieux for words.

“‘La Veggie,’” Lacy says. “I always have it.” It’s mainly spinach, arugula, goat cheese, cranberries, strawberries and walnuts. Costs $12, plus $2 for the avo.

By now, Lacy’s on a stool at the narrow wall-counter. “We Americans are so afraid of fat and flavor. The French have all the naughty stuff, but the good stuff too, and as part of a much more varied diet. You don’t see fat French kids. I’ve just ordered chicken goujon for mine.” She’s talking about chicken tenders. They come with French fries ($6).

“That should be Belgian fries,” says Lacy. “That’s who invented them, not the French.”

Steve, Emmanuel

Emmanuel comes around with a bottle of rose wine and refills her glass. “Thank you, Manu,” she says. “He gives a very generous pour here, and only French wines. Good. But everything here’s French, right?”

“Everything,” Emmanuel says, “including ingredients. Flour, butter, cheeses. The jambon comes straight from Paris. That’s why things are a little more expensive.”

Wow. “So what’s most popular?” I ask. Emmanuel doesn’t hesitate. “Croque Monsieur,” he says. Good enough for me. I think about the salads, the snails, the duck foie gras, but a croque with all that cheese and ham? Can’t go wrong. But I go with the Croque Madame, which has an egg on top.

I go outside, sit down near a giant ancient Confucius statue, dead serious. The complete opposite of my prancing girl.

My croque comes with a vinaigrette salad, and gruyere cheese licking out from the thick breads and spilling over the ham splayed on top. The bread is lightly toasted but still very soft. Makes it an easy chew, and dang. If I wasn’t working, a glass of wine would just perfect the whole experience. Sigh. But Emmanuel’s coffee is a good second best.

Talking of which, have to say the very best croque I’ve ever had is still the one at Clayton’s Bistro in Coronado. Maybe because they marinate theirs overnight before baking. But this one gives it a run for its money.

It turns out Emmanuel owned three French restaurants in Hong Kong. Lived there for years. He thought about doing the same when he got here. “But you utter the words, ‘French restaurant,’ and what do people think? Heavy linens, expensive food. They usually don’t succeed here. So, suddenly I had this idea: ‘I’m going to create the French Starbucks! But best coffee, and everything real French.’”

Gotta go. The dancing girl looks like she’s saying, “You’ve got work to do!” Confucius is nodding.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Find a group of friends that you can suck with.

I have surfed Lake Michigan
Next Article

What do you get when you cross Stones, Roses, and Guns?

“Anything that’s funny, we put it in there”
Comments
1

Ed, they published the wrong restaurant and address. It should be:

Madeleine Cafe & Bakery 240 S Cedros Ave Solana Beach, CA 92075

b/t Lomas Santa Fe Dr & Rosa St 858-299-4788

https://www.madeleinecafebakeries.com/

Dec. 29, 2019

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close