5090 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95819. (916) 739-1348

Some restaurants seem to struggle with an identity crisis and in my opinion Les Baux is one of them. Is it a bakery? A coffee shop? A French-style bistro? I don't know and I don't think they really do either. Tucked away on a corner of a shopping strip near Trader Joe's in East Sac, it's easy to overlook it if you don't know it's there. The interior is quite cute- lots of natural wood, simple modern lines, large windows and loads of sunlight. There's even a lovely, small, sunny patio area outside for dining. My only suggestion? Spread the tables out a bit. They're so scrunched together that it makes it difficult for people to get to their table or make their way to the restroom. For patrons with a disability, the narrow maze of chairs would be a nightmare.

The first time I went was for brunch. Les Baux is owned by the owners of La Bou and when you walk in you're greeted by a glass case for breads and pastries. I was there early on a Sunday and there were only a smattering of breads, scones and cookies out. How odd. My friend and I decided to dine inside and were told to seat ourselves. The menu's pretty short but it has some nice variety and you can order breakfast or lunch items. I opted for the "3-day" french toast and my friend got a cup of the croissant pudding and a side of Applewood-smoked bacon. Her bacon looked great- thick slabs, cooked nice and crispy and she said the pudding was delicious. My french toast was quite good- nice, big slices of light bread and lots of fresh fruit, served with a side of maple syrup. What annoyed me though was the coffee situation- Les Baux doesn't give you refills. That's fine if you're running a coffee shop but if you're running a restaurant, refills should be free or at least cheap. My coffee was brought to me when we placed our order but by the time our food came, the coffee left in my mug was pretty cold...a warm up would have been nice. I kept waiting for our waitress to come back by but she never did until it was time to bring the check. My friend was the one who clued me in that the place doesn't refresh your coffee. What a crock! How am I supposed to get my morning caffeine hit? Their reasoning it turns out is that each cup is hand brewed...big whoop! I had some and though it may have been freshly made it tasted just mediocre. (Les Baux's coffee reminded me of Starbuck's coffee- slightly bitter...which I'm not a huge fan of. If you want excellent hand brewed coffee, try Broadacre or Temple. They know how to do drip coffee right.) Anyhow, if that's the coffee quality they're going to serve then they really should just ditch the individual coffeemaking process and just make a pot. And yes, I really think for customers who are dining in-house, coffee refills should be gratis. Oh and just a heads up to their staff, if you bring someone coffee and cream...give them a spoon, a stick or something to stir it with! (Reference Waiting Tables 101.)

My second visit there was to meet up with a friend for lunch. She was already there when I arrived so we sat indoors. Right off the bat, I noticed that the dining room was riddled with a ton of flies. Big black flies zooming around the customers and flitting around the food- it was extremely off putting. I ended up having to swat them away from our table throughout most of the meal. For lunch, my friend and I decided to share the calamari. For our entrees, she went with the moules frites (mussels and fries) and I went with the lunch special of duck confit salad. The grilled calamari wasn't bad, it was served with a garlic-infused olive oil, kaffir lime zest and capers. Although I could see a couple of garlic cloves thrown in the mix, I couldn't detect any garlic taste in the actual appetizer. It pretty much just tasted like baby squid pieces a top of a pool of olive oil. Eh. My major gripe I had with the dish though was that half the dish was shrimp. Nowhere on the menu did it mention shrimp being in this dish. Felt like a bit of bait and switch....

My duck confit salad was much better. It was well cooked and flavorful. The salad greens that accompanied it were fresh and crisp and I enjoyed the little green beans and large crunchy croutons that were interspersed throughout. My only complaint was that the dish was a bit dry; however, a little drizzle of vinaigrette on the salad would have rectified that. I'm not sure if the dish wasn't supposed to have a dressing or if they just forgot to put some on. My guess is the latter. For dessert, I thought for sure they'd blow us away in this category (after all, Les Baux is a bakery first and foremost) but the small apple pastry they brought out was quite unremarkable. Also, the service we received was spotty. Our waitress this time was friendly but seemed quite inexperienced and wasn't knowledgeable about the restaurant's menu or the lunch specials.

Overall, I wasn't wowed by Les Baux. I do love the space but both the food and service were unimpressive and the lack of coffee refills is a bit annoying. There's a multitude of better bistros and cafes in the Midtown/East Sac neighborhood and I just don't see myself frequenting this one.
5 Responses
  1. Unknown Says:

    Thank you. Les Beaux is so confused by whether they want to be a coffee shop or a restaurant. If you just wan a pastry and coffee, but want to sit down it seems to cause a big mix-up for the staff. I had this happen on more than two occasions so I'm supposing it wasn't a fluke. On the other hand, their bread is great and the restaurant menu (? cafe menu?) prices are reasonable. I'm sad to hear about the flies. That's gross.

  2. Ally Says:

    I agree the prices are terrific (I think my French toast, which was delicious, was like $8). If they're going for a café atmosphere with Sunday brunch though they have to do something about the coffee situation. At $3.50 a cup, no one's going to buy a 2nd cup. And the staff really needs some training. Our waitress didn't know the difference between a mussel and an oyster. o_O

    I really like to support local eateries (especially ones that serve brunch and have patios) but I think I'll pass on going back to this one. Such a bummer.

  3. Unknown Says:

    I have been there many times. Mostly with Mom. We have always loved it. It has changed though, & not really for the better. I keep thinking it's because they are still growing.

  4. CAMichelle Says:

    I've been burned by their coffee policy. They aren't a take-out place like Peet's or Starbucks, I think it is ridiculous to charge $3.50 for a cup and then pay another $3.50 for a second. I'll go over to Bacon & Butter where the coffee refills are free and the breakfast food just as interesting.

  5. grace Says:

    that coffee situation would irk me too, but i'll be darned if that french toast doesn't look fantastic.

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