Having made several trips to the South of France on business trips in the past, I developed a passion for the cuisine and culture. Sure, the fine dining was amazing, but it was the simple pleasures found in the bakeries and cafes that I still crave on a regular basis. With the addition of the French Corner Parisian Bakery & Café in Leucadia, I am a very happy plate licker these days.
The French Corner is owned by Alexandra Palombi-Long who is originally from Paris, France. It’s always a good thing when the owner grew up surrounded by the cuisine she is preparing. You may have seen Alexandra at the Leucadia Farmers Market over the past year awaiting her new Coast Highway location to be ready for her new venture. As with many French people, food was everything growing for Alexandra growing up and she remembers being active in the kitchen with her mom at a very early age and claims her mom’s passion for cooking as an early influence. One of her early restaurant memories in Paris was eating at the famous l'Entrecote which is known for serving just steak frites and a modest selection of desserts. That’s it, steak and French fries with a simple sauce. Love it.
Alexandra starting working in restaurants early on during her summer breaks from school. She started at 16 and when she was 20 and moved to New York and worked in many different types of restaurants including French, Italian along with some catering. Paris and New York are two great places to cut your culinary chops so when Alexandra and her husband decided to open their own place; they had plenty of experience to fall back on. She made the move to California 3 years ago and settled in Encinitas for all of the same reasons that most of us end up here. When the time came to open their own restaurant, they were looking for a small place on 101 and found a nice little corner spot in the heart of Leucadia. To Alexandra, making food is an art when you combine that with passion and great ingredients, something exceptional will result. Based on what I’ve sampled, I’d say she is staying true to that philosophy.
Most everything at the French Corner is made in house except for the bread that they source from a reputable French baker. I can attest to the quality of the bread, it’s very good. Speaking of the bread, my favorites at French Corner are the baguette sandwich and baguette breakfast sandwich. Going back to my time in France, I was amazed at how something so simple tasted so good. The jambon-fromage is my go-to and I will admit I will be adding this to my weekly lunch schedule. By the way, that fancy sounding name translates literally into ham and cheese on a French baguette. Gruyere cheese, butter, and the optional cornichon pickle and that’s it. Of course the quality of the baguette plays a huge part in this simple sandwich, and the French Corner has that covered as I mentioned. This sandwich is so simple, yet with the right ingredients, is an elegant alternative to the overthought sandwiches that are common amongst restaurants looking for a differentiator.
Of course it’s not all about the baguettes. French Corner offers quiche, frittata, spinach soufflés, omelets, crepes, and other seasonal savory specials. I’m really hoping Alexandra adds a cassoulet during the colder months.
Besides the savory offerings, there is a really nice selection of pastries including chocolate soufflés
cannelés, mini financiers, myrtilles & amandes, mini Au citron, mini Carrot cakes, orange glazed Madeleine’s, bostock and almond brioche bread. Any of that with a nice cup of coffee sounds delightful to me.
The French Corner is located right across the street from the charming Leucadia Post Office and the parking lot that now houses a gym and the hipster haven Seaweed & Gravel so there is plenty of fun people watching to be done. It’s a small space with a few tables and a bench out front, but there are plenty of places in the neighborhood to sit or even better fill your picnic basket and head to the beach for lunch or a sunset. It’s great to have this charming establishment in the ever growing mix of Leucadia dining options. French Corner is located at 1200 North Coast Hwy.101 Encinitas or www.frenchcorner101.com