Outside of France, preparing French cuisine can be tricky. All those sauces, all that time.
Making it look easy when it’s really not was Julia Child’s still-viable “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” which rocked the meat-and-potatoes world of American housewives when it appeared in 1961.
We’ll guarantee you won’t find a copy of that treasure anywhere near Cafe Plan B’s kitchen, where a recent lunch reminded us of how good French-accented food can be.
The cafe is the casual cousin of the more formal Plan B in Arden Town Center, and offers an interesting concept.
“We believe it’s time for a French (version of) Olive Garden or Cafe Bernardo, but more of a French cafe,” said co-owner Lionel Lucas, who prefers to be called simply “Lucas.” He’s in business with his wife, Irina, and Franck Soler, who has worked in the restaurant industry in New York City and San Francisco.
“People can hang out here with their laptops,” Lucas said. “They can spend $10 and be happy or spend $300 and be happy.”
“Plan C” could be to open more cafes (“The next would be in Davis or Vacaville”), predicated on how this one performs. “This is a town where you build a business slowly,” Lucas said.
Our tartlette with reblochon cheese, wild mushrooms, bacon and crème fraîche was delicate and creamy (“Fabulous!” said the lunch pal), flawed only by the tough, brittle edges of the baked pastry dough.
A generous heap of plump mussels were succulent in a sauce of celery, pancetta, thyme and cream, topped with curls of sautéed shallots. We mopped up the sauce with crisp crostini. Thin, crisp french fries dashed with a confetti of herbes de Provence were the ideal pairing.
A hot dog for $10? Yeah, but not just any old wiener. This is a tasty lamb merguez wrapped in Swiss emmental cheese on a chewy baguette, with spicy Dijon mustard and a salad on the side. FYI, a merguez is a spicy sausage with roots in North Africa, and very popular in France.
“I’m an iced tea snob, and I can tell you this is fresh-brewed,” said the lunch pal. She was right.
of California and French reds and whites. Beers
come from France, Belgium and Germany, a nice change from long, confusing lists
of local craft beers the average diner has never heard of.