By Nick Manteris · 0 Comments · Leave a Comment
Baguette Cafe is a small cafe, tucked away in a corner of the business park on Sunset between Buffalo and Durango. It’s just north of 215 and accessible from either Sunset or the feeder — and we never would have discovered it without the new sign that can be seen from the freeway. (Before they added that sign, I’m sure it was a difficult place to find.) It’s one of those little sandwich and coffee shops frequently found either inside an office building or right around the corner from one. In my experience, these establishments are designed to cater to the business lunch crowd and they usually offer convenience at the expense of (good coffee and) quality. Thankfully, the Baguette Cafe does not fit this particular stereotype.
As far as food goes, we ordered a small assortment of items to try out the place for the first time : a Chicken Chipotle Panini, a Chocolate Chip and Coconut Muffin, a Pear Tart, some Flan and a Cappuccino. First of all, even though the Cappuccino was a little on the milky side – more latte than cappuccino – it was considerably better than average and easily one of the best I’ve had in Las Vegas. The flavors were well-balanced and the coffee did not exhibit any of the bitter qualities that I’ve come to expect from the usual places that serve illy Coffee.
The Chicken Chipotle Panini was one of the special offerings that was not on the regular menu and it looked rather simple – just chicken, cheese, bacon, chipotle peppers and sauce. Flavor-wise, however, there was a lot going on and it had a nice amount of spiciness with a heat that lingered for a while after every bite. This is a really tasty sandwich that I would have no problems eating on a regular basis.
For the breakfast and dessert items I will start with the Flan. It was exactly like every other flan that I’ve ever had: average. But... I have never had any that I thought was particularly good or, for that matter, particularly bad. Perhaps my flan receptors are just not as finely tuned as the people that really enjoy this dessert. Since the owners are French, it would have been a nice treat if, instead of flan, they offered a proper French crème caramel, which is a very similar dessert, but usually has more of the crème brûlée notes of toasted marshmallow.
The Chocolate Chip and Coconut Muffin was not sweet enough to be classified as a dessert, but it was sweeter than a regular muffin and was good enough to eat without requiring butter. I told my friends that it tasted like a plain muffin and a coconut macaroon slept together and had a child... and then, for some reason, that child had chocolate chips thrown at it. Aside from the obvious personification, that description is actually quite apt. I should also point out that by “plain” I mean a lack of accoutrement not a lack of flavor.
The proprietor, Olivier, recommended the Pear Tart when we asked about the pastry items and he mentioned that they bake everything fresh daily — every morning. I had no trouble believing him; the tart was very tasty. The glaze on top contained the majority of the sweetness and the crust was crispy and buttery and very much like shortbread or a butter cookie on the outside edge. The pears and the custard-like filling underneath were noticeably less sweet, but the flavors all work together to create a more complex and enjoyable dessert. I’m glad it was recommended because "pear tart" would have been further down on my go-to list and I might not have chosen it otherwise.
Baguette Cafe was a welcome surprise and it’s sure to become a regular spot for me. The food is better than anyone has the right to expect and it might be the best coffee in town. (I say “might” because there are a few places I haven’t yet visited.) I should also mention that Olivier is the friendliest, most welcoming business owner that I’ve ever encountered in Las Vegas. He greets you with an enthusiasm normally reserved for a freshly-started business, even though Baguette Cafe has been open for more than a year. He really cares about what he is doing and it’s apparent in the food that he sells, in the way he treats his customers, and even in the way he talks about the food. I could almost recommend the place based on his attitude alone – if the food were merely average – but, luckily, I don’t have to: Baguette Cafe has great food and coffee and they deserve all the new customers that will hopefully wander in because of the new sign.
Reviewed Friday, November 12, 2010