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Nov 16, 2008 02:46 PM

Albany - Cafe Saint Honore ... Oo la la ... chien chaud, canneles, and the world's best macaron

This cafe that opened two days ago on the corner of San Pablo and Solano makes me smile for many reasons.

First, you have to like a business that has a spokes cow ..."Louis la Vache"

Second, it makes you feel French ... wanting to dust off those high school French books and parle Francais (I NEED my books)

But mainly the baked goods make my tastebuds smile ... yes they do.

That macaron was a wonder. The bright pink currant was like no other I've had ... crisp, creamy, tangy, sweet and deeply flavored. I've never had a shell on a macaron that had such a delicate crunch to it like that with a light, lovely, melty center. These are tiny, little bigger than a quarter, and only $1 ... but with more merit, personality and heart than more expensive and larger versions.

The cannele ($2) was a thing of beauty. I keep reading about custardy centers and I have never truly experienced it until now.

Very good strong coffee ...French roast I'm guessing. The sign on the pot just said frog fuel ... hey, the owners are French, so they can say anything they want in that regard. I'm not sure the brand, but someone said Holy Cow ... though I couldn't find any reference on the web. A very generous medium was $1.50.

They have a number of espresso drinks ... including Latte Mexique.

There are also drinks called "Vachenccinos"

They open at 6am and close at midnight.

Breakfast is
- 2 poached eggs with buttered baguette $5.75
- Yogurt with jam and croissant $5.25
- 1/2 baguette with butter and jam $3

Lunch includes a number of sandwiches and salads. Most are $5.75 - $6. The most expensive is the Croque Monsier for $7.50 which includes a small salad.

On the back of the menu

"Cafe-Saint-Honore is named after two famous streets in Paris, rue-Saint-Honore and rue-du-Faubourg-Saint-Honore. We want your visit to be like walking into a little corner of France. "Louis la Vache" is the official spokescow for Cafe-Saint-Honore. "Louis" has ancestral roots in Normandie, noted in France for its rich cuisine and fine dairy products."

Louis ... I've been to France. I know France ... and you sir, are better than France. Your little cafe with the bright sunny windows is very comfy. The coffee is better than in France. The baked goods I had this morning stand up to the best of them. The prices are waaaay better than France ... and most places in the East Bay ... and the staff very welcoming ... and everyone speaks English ... French optional.

Louis ... this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship

Cafe Saint Honore
862 San Pablo Aven, Albany

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  1. Here's the lunch menu which includes the chien chaud ... French hot dog

    BTW, the baguettes looked lovely.


    French ham on buttered baguette $5.75
    French salami on buttered baguette $5.75
    Tuna nicoise on baguette $6
    French gruyere and ham $6
    Chicken curry with mango chutney $6
    Turkey and cranberry $5.75
    Chien chaud (French-style hot dog: hot dog on baguette with bechamel sauce and gruyere) $5.75
    Croque Monsier (Grilled ham and gruyere w/bechamel served with small salad) $7.50


    Spring mix salad (small) $3.50 (large) $5.25
    Spinach salad includes sliced egg (small) $3.75 (large) $5.50
    Spring mix with grilled chicken $6.75
    Spring mix with chicken Cordon Bleu $6.75
    Spring mix with nuts and cranberries $6.50
    Spring mix with ham and walnuts $6.75
    Mandarin spinach (spinach, sliced egg, mandarin oranges and toasted slivered almonds) $6.75
    Spinach chicken Caesar $6.75

    There is a grab and go special ... sandwich, salad & drink for $10

    Near the counter there are post cards of the Eiffel Tower that have a coupon on the back for a $1 discount on the purchase of any beverage, sandwich or bag of coffee

    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      What other desserts do they have? Great find, as usual.

      1. re: choctastic

        I believe they also had a tart. There were three glass cake plates on the counter and another plate of Gavottes

        Speaking of the Gavoittes, I think they have a few shelves of French groceries against one wall. They were just getting set up, There was a whole deli case with nothing in it yet.

        IMO, this seems like it will be the best addition to that neighborhood which is getting to be a little corner of the Mediterranean.

    2. Thanks for posting this. I've been watching that corner since I moved to Albany last month. Stopped by on the way home and grabbed a couple of canneles, which were as good (if not better) than you described. They also seem to have 7-8 flavor of Ici ice cream by the scoop. They were extremely nice - I was looking around after buying the canneles, and they offered me some ice water while I looked! The tarte au citron is next on my list to try, and their long hours mean that it will be quite dangerous to resist both ways of my commute.

      Rworange - from someone relatively new to the area, thanks for all of your helpful and thorough posts!

      1 Reply
      1. re: little cook

        All that and ICI too. Yeah, I forgot ice cream was mentioned on the menu. Thanks for finding out the brand. Kind of makes me chuckle ... I'm guessing the French name game gave ICI the edge.

        Welcome to the nabe. Solano Avenue has some nice places. Looking forward to your reports.

      2. Great post as always, RW! Funny, my husband and I were talking about Croque Monsier last night in bed and got ourselves all worked up (food obsessed much?). I think we're going to have to go tonight.

        1. I stopped in there today around 1 p.m. The macarons really are good, although I wish they could be a tiny bit bigger (two bites instead of one). I also got some ice cream: candied Meyer lemon and pumpkin. (Ici digression: I guess I'm too used to sorbets and gelatos, because I really find Ici to be too fatty -- the butterfat really smothers the flavors).

          However, I suggest waiting for a few weeks before you try them at a peak time, because there were significant service problems to be ironed out. They only had one person taking orders (although there were at least three other people working there), making coffee, scooping ice cream, etc., This caused long waits, which were compounded by the fact he didn't seem to know what he was doing and had to ask the older man (owner, I presume) a question (or more) on every order. When it was finally my turn, I ordered macarons (he had to ask what the flavors were) and two scoops of ice cream to go (he had to ask where the to-go cups were), and then he only rang me up for one. I said I'd ordered two. He looked confused. I asked him if he'd given me two (they were packed to go in a container with a lid), and he said yes, so I paid for two scoops. But when I opened the container on the way out the door, my two scoops of ice cream were one small scoop and one partial scoop. Maybe he actually gave me a single serving with two flavors, but since after our discussion at the register I'd paid for a double, I wanted a double. At this point, the very nice older man looked at my container and said "we'll double that" plus he gave me back $2 so I only paid for a single.

          So basically, I'm not slamming them, I'm just saying that although they are trying hard, they don't have things running smoothly yet.

          1. I had a good cup of coffee there on Friday. It's a nice place to sit and talk. A bit pricey, though. 6-something for a quiche that is 4, maybe 5 inches across. The bite I had was fine, but still...