920 8th St, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 492-9506
(May 2011- CLOSED. Same name but new ownership)
There's an old song called, "I love Paris," written by Cole Porter and most notably sung by Old Blue Eyes himself- Sinatra. The chorus of the song is a bit sing-songy and goes something like this, "I love Paris in the spring time. I love Paris in the fall. I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles. I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles." Well, after visiting La Bonne today, I can see why one would adore the Frenchies.
Waking up to a dreary, wet Sacramento morning the last thing I wanted to do leave the confines of my nice warm Midtown apartment to navigate the rain-slicked streets to downtown. However, once I scored a prime parking spot I got into the swing of things. Armed with an umbrella and heels, I felt a bit Parisian as I ducked under the awning and stepped inside the bistro. After all the hype, I was a bit surprised- there was no line! In fact I was the only patron in the establishment. Immediately, I was greeted with a friendly "Hello, Mademoiselle," by Chef Daniel Pont. Since I was waiting for my two lunch companions to arrive, I plunked myself down at the nearest table and enagaged in a conversation with the charming Mr. Pont. We politely chatted about the weather, discussed the crazy drivers that were out and about and then focused on the food. When I asked for his recommendation, Mr. Pont didn't leap into an one man presentation about the various dishes; instead he told me to whittle my choices to two that I liked and he'd be happy to discuss them further in detail. After perusing the menu for a bit, I settled on the smoked duck with homemade herbed mayonnaise and the baked salmon with a sorrel (?) sauce. Mr. Pont diplomatically advised that when a customer has gotten it down to two choices he usually advises them which item would be healthier. I went with the baked salmon and was pleased with my choice. The salmon perfectly cooked and moist was accompanied by fresh asparagus and nestled comfortably in a lettuce bed within the crispy baguette. I also opted to try the much acclaimed French onion soup, which lived up to all of its Yelp raves. Slivered onions, a soaked baguette and a dollop of delectable cheese intermingled together in this savory potage. I seriously could eat this saporous concoction everyday! To top off the triad of gluttony, I purchased a "French" brownie to go. Having indulged in the treat a few minutes ago I have to say, "That's one damn good brownie!" It was dense, not overly sweet and seemed to impart a slight liqueur aftertaste.
Don't go to La Bonne expecting a snobby French eatery or speedy-service, Pont's place is simple, small and somewhat slow. Each sandwich is individually (and carefully) put together by him. He acts simultaneously as the cook, the front line and the cashier. As he works, he chats with the customers about the various selections (today there was a broccoflower soup that he explained was a nutritious hybrid), daily goings-ons and I even caught a few exchanges between him and a few customers in his native French. Also, get there early as there is limited seating (BTW- this is not a good place to go to with a big group) and the lunch selections do run out. Sandwiches run about $6-7 and soups about $5.
I most definitely will be back to sample some of his other sublime offerings. If I play my karma cards right, I'm hoping I'll luck out and drop in on a day that he has his infamous creme brulee. As it stood, I had to control myself from grabbing the courteous Frenchman in an embrace of gratitude and cooing, "Merci, mon petit chou!" upon my departure. Instead I smiled, nodded a thank you and rubbed my content belly as I headed back out into the rain.
(*mon petit chou = a French term of endearment meaning my "little cabbage or brussel sprout")