French method key to Downtown Bistro
Sunday, 04 May 2008
By Natasha Gomez
Butter can perform miracles. If you don’t believe me, I invite you to La Quiche Parisienne Bistro to see for yourself. This little French café is a chapel to butter’s splendors.
Entering the bistro from the 4th Street Mall in Downtown ABQ, a cataract of sunlight follows diners inside through the street-side windows, where they immediately encounter La Quiche’s most precious effects: pastries, croissants, meringues and cakes. Beneath the displaycase glass, raspberry, blueberry and lemon tarts gleam like jewels, forcing diners to pause for a second to relish the anticipation before surrendering to these ambrosial delights — the savory offerings here are as appealing as they are sweet.
“Everything is made from scratch,” states Sabine Pasco, co-proprietor and pastry chef. “From the croissants to the bread to the pastry, we make it all ourselves.”
Not only is everything at La Quiche homemade, but all is crafted according to traditional French methods. Take the signature quiches, for example. Bruno Barachin, co-proprietor and master baker, explains in a charming Parisian accent how the quiche flavors are not the product of the chef’s whim, but are classical French preparations. “We do not just throw tomatoes in something because we feel like it,” he says. “The quiche blue cheese and walnuts ($8.99) has just that and nothing else. This is how it is made in Paris.”
The selection of sandwiches is also distinctly French. Unlike American-style sandwiches, where filling is the prize and the bread a mere pedestal, the French-style sandwiches revere bread above all. Fillings are elegant adornments. Such is the case with the Bayonne sandwich ($8.99). It’s composed of a fragrant, crusty baguette and delicate slices of imported prosciutto, lettuce, tomato and cornichons; ubiquitous butter replaces the usual mayo. There is a long list of other sandwich options, with cracked pepper turkey, hot roast beef and chicken, among others.
La Quiche also houses a lovely bakery, where breakfast is as simple as a cup of their excellent coffee ($1) and a pan au chocolate ($2.05). Barachin bakes half-baguettes into the shape of a sprig of wheat or other variously odd forms such as crocodiles, turtles, horses and octopi. Other items offered from the bakery includes challah ($4.25), muesli bread ($5.25), pumpernickel ($4.25) and ciabatta ($4.25).
While the Bistro’s bread and quiche may sustain one’s soul, the true glory of this little café is in the celestial pastries. The lemon tart ($3.25) is about the size of the palm of your hand and might be the very definition of perfection; candied lemon and a fresh strawberry rest on a godly-rich firmament of lemon and cream. Other possibilities include the cream praline Paris Brest ($3.50), French style almond macarons ($8.99 for a box of 8), éclairs ($3.25) and almond walnut chocolate tarts ($3.50). Do not worry about choosing one over another, as anything in the pastry category is guaranteed to be a revelation.
Food is served promptly, making La Quiche Parisienne Bistro an ideal quick stop for breakfast or lunch in the Downtown area. But the intimate café setting, cheerful view of the 4th Street Mall and the divine quality of the food invite you to sit, relax and thank heaven that such a place exists here in Albuquerque.
La Quiche Parisienne Bistro
401-A Copper NW, 242.2808
HOURS: 7a-3p, Mon.-Fri., 9a-2p, Sat.*
*Location and hours have changed