Hidden in the outskirts of Little Saigon, Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie has become a favorite amongst Orange County food bloggers for its sublime cakes and pastries. While its reputation as one of the best bakeries in Orange County is well-deserved, it also offers another hard-to-find treat that is frequently overlooked by its visitors. Boulangerie Pierre is one of the few places in Southern California where you can get authentic French bistro fare.
As I've written about in the past, bistro cuisine represents the heart and soul of French food. Unlike haute cuisine restaurants, which are luxurious and hideously expensive experiences savored by few, bistros, cafes, and bakeries provide rustic and delicious meals to French diners from all walks of life.
The model is simple. Offer a few different types of coffee, sandwiches, some soup, and one or two daily specials made with easily obtained ingredients and served at affordable prices. Instead of tiny, carefully crafted towers of culinary art that harkens back the excesses of the aristocracy, bistro fare is hearty country cooking served in heaping portions. It's the kind of food that will keep a man going through a hard day's work.
However, just because it's meant to be enjoyed by the average Joe doesn't mean bistro fare is unsophisticated. This is still French cuisine, after all. Much like Chinese cuisine, the art lies in taking ordinary ingredients and turning them into something remarkable.
Take Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie's Boeuf au Vin, a bold preparation of beef stewed in a flavorful wine sauce. The long cooking time takes what was undoubtedly a tough cut of meat and transforms each piece into a mouth-meltingly tender morsel. The unctuous braising liquid, thickened by gelatin rendered from dissolved connective tissues, coats your lips and tongue in the way only a very good stew can.
Their Poulet Aux Champignons is a lighter preparation of chicken simmered with mushrooms and tomatoes. White wine and fresh herbs perfume the tangy broth. The flaky meat literally falls off of the bones, which also fail to hold together since all of the chicken's cartilage has been rendered out through slow cooking.
Each dish is served with a whole baguette that is torn into smaller pieces and used to sop up every drop of delicious sauce. The portions are substantial. Just one order is easily enough to feed two or three people. Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie also offers pre-sealed takeout containers of their stews, packed fresh daily, so that customers can take them home as an affordable meal for their families.
Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie - Delectable cakes, lush pastries, and the best bistro fare I've found in Southern California.
Boeuf au Vin - 8.00
Poulet Aux Champignons - 8.00
Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie
14352 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843