Home of the Fragile, Creamy and Delectable Egg Salad Sandwich - Euro Pane Bakery [Review] w/ Pics!
(Formatted with All Pictures here:
Unexpected surprises probably put as big a smile on my face as enjoying great dinners from places I frequent. Over the past few years, I usually pay a visit to my Pasadena Hounds once every few months, but normally for lunch or dinner. Then, on a fateful day late last year, we somehow ended up meeting earlier than usual (brunch time). Leaving it in the hands of my Pasadena Hounds, one of them casually blurted out, "Let's go to Euro Pane." I remembered reading about Euro Pane Bakery a few times on Chowhound, but never had the inclination to go. However, being ever curious, I said, "Sure, why not?" And ever since that first visit, I've found been more than happy to return for one glorious dish: The Egg Salad Sandwich. :)
From the outside, Euro Pane Bakery looks like any other nondescript business along the multiple strip malls on Colorado Boulevard (except for the abundance of potted plants dotting the storefront). Opened 16 years ago by Baker-Owner Sumi Chang (who studied under Nancy Silverton at La Brea Bakery), Euro Pane has built up a loyal following, with regulars stopping in and greeting the servers (and vice versa) on a first name basis.
Once inside, you're greeted with a single display case filled with whatever fresh baked pastries and sweets are available for that day, as well as a simple menu of their Sandwich selections. (Note: Euro Pane thankfully does not use Partially-Hydrogenated Oils for their pastries; only Butter.)
On my first visit to this bakery, I have to try their Plain Croissant. :)
It's fresh, doughy with a light chew and not too heavy. But it lacks that wonderful crispy, flaky exterior found in many of the best Croissants around town. If you consider this in comparison to all Croissants offered in So Cal, it's not bad, but if you compare this to places like Anisette, Amandine, etc., it's going to fall short.
Their Almond Bearclaw is up next.
Unfortunately, it's less moist than their Croissant, with a semi-dried out block of Almond Paste in the center.
At this point, I'm a little worried, but one of my Hounds reassures me the best is yet to come. We then try their Macadamia Nut Tart.
The first bite yields a lightly sweet, crunchy, fresh burst of Macadamia Nuts and a beautiful crust that's just the right amount of buttery without being overwhelming. Excellent! :)
Our first Sandwich arrives at this point: Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Sandwich (on Multigrain Bread).
Euro Pane bakes all their Bread in-house, and offers a choice of 7 types of Bread for their Sandwiches: Ciabatta, Multigrain, Sourdough, Rosemary Currant, Cranberry Walnut, Olive, and Brioche. I'm not the biggest Sandwich fan in the world (I usually don't order them), but this Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Sandwich is simply wonderful: It starts with the Multigrain Bread which is *so* soft, moist, infused with a pleasing "fields of grain" aroma, which then gives way to silky, luscious Roasted Red Peppers, a tease from the Basil Pesto, and then the Chevrine Natural Goat Cheese, which is creamy and delightful. (^_^) An excellent Sandwich.
But then I look up and notice a mischievous grin from one of my Pasadena Hounds, as our server puts down the Egg Salad Sandwich (on Olive Bread).
It's served open-face, and it is visually stunning! I hadn't even tasted it yet, and I knew this was something special. I gently lift up a piece of the Egg Salad Sandwich and take a bite:
It's unlike any Egg Salad Sandwich I've had before; it's lush, silky, delicate, with accents of Chives and Black Pepper with their Homemade Mayonnaise. This is a celebration of wonderfully cooked, soft, succulent Eggs with a kiss of citrus from the Lemon and the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto. It's a true paradigm shift on what a great Egg Salad Sandwich could be. I'm simply stunned into simple happiness as I munch on the rest of my half of the Sandwich, regretting that I didn't have a full order to myself. (^_~)
Making sure this wasn't a fluke, over the past 4 visits, it's still been as consistently silky and delicious as before. I can see why Jonathan Gold added this to his 99 Bites article. It's my favorite item at Euro Pane, easily. :)
On another visit, my guest wants to try their Rosemary Currant Roll.
It turns out to be a little bit of salty, a bit of sweet (from the Currants), with a fragrant Rosemary tinge, but at the end of the day, it still tastes like a familiar, thick-skinned, chewy Dinner Roll.
We continue with their Raspberry Vanilla Tart.
It's piquant, with a neutral Custard. The crust is flaky and excellent like in their Macadamia Nut Tart. We all agree that it's well-balanced, but ultimately I'd rather have their Macadamia Nut Tart. :)
Things bounce back nicely with their Almond Brioche.
The Brioche itself is relatively light - not as weightless and airy as some versions locally - but the generous layering of fresh Toasted Almonds, Mascarpone and moist Almond Paste really elevates this pastry and redeems Euro Pane from their failed Almond Bearclaw.
Their Chicken Salad Sandwich (on Rosemary Currant Bread) arrives soon after.
I'm hoping for a repeat of the success of their Egg Salad Sandwich, but this one doesn't quite get there. The Rosemary Currant Bread is very good: Unlike the Rosemary Currant Roll we just had, their Rosemary Currant Bread is soft, fresh and really serves to highlight the piny Rosemary and lightly sweet Currant flavors. The Chicken, lightly touched by Dill and Yogurt on a bed of Mixed Greens, is a great idea and executed very well, except that the Chicken itself tastes old (like it's been sitting in the fridge 1+ days). :( It's not inedible by any means, but that really bright, clean taste of fresh-made Chicken Salad is nowhere to be found.
Their Tomato and Feta Sandwich (on Olive Bread) is also disappointing.
I enjoy a good Feta Cheese as much as the next person, but the Feta used at Euro Pane is intensely salty. One hopes that the Fresh Tomato, Mixed Greens and Basil Pesto might help to balance out the Feta, but in reality it doesn't; the Feta is *that* salty. It probably didn't help that we ordered it with Olive Bread (which was excellent again). Next time, I'll try it with a sweeter selection, like their Cranberry Walnut or Rosemary Currant.
Finally, we try their Salmon Sandwich (on Ciabatta Bread).
First off, the Ciabatta Bread is pretty impressive: Euro Pane's version has an alluring, satisfying crunch, which gives way to a soft, tongue-pleasing under layer. It's probably the most memorable Ciabatta I've had in the past year. It definitely saved the rest of the Sandwich: The Smoked Salmon is fine, a thick, tender cut of fish, but it lacks the delicate, nuanced facets of an outstanding Smoked Salmon. It's also a bit too salty for my tastes, and the Dill Creme, Mixed Baby Greens and Red Onions aren't enough to even out the sodium.
On another visit, a Blueberry Tart finds its way to our table to start things off.
Their Tarts are definitely some of the better items on the menu, and the Blueberry Tart continues this trend: The Blueberries taste fresh and not too sweet; the Tart crust is crumbly with a slight crunch and quite tasty.
Probably the one major disappointment I've run into at Euro Pane is their Zucchini Focaccia.
Unlike their other breads and pastries, the Zucchini Focaccia is super dry and musty. The Asiago Cheese and many Zucchini strands are burnt, which hurt the overall flavor as well. In addition, none of us picked up on any real Zucchini flavor; it was mainly burnt, dry, musty Bread.
Next to arrive is their Turkey Sandwich (on Cranberry Walnut Bread).
I usually don't expect much with Turkey Sandwiches (they usually turn out rather dry and very lean), and sadly, Euro Pane's version is no different. The Turkey itself tastes about ~1 - 2 days old, with a bit of the refrigerator funk, but it's not as dry as many Turkey Sandwiches I've had over the years. But it's the Cranberry Walnut Bread that's the real winner here: There are nice little bursts of sweet from the Cranberries, along with some little chunks of Walnut here and there. The Bread itself is as soft and gentle and mouth-pleasing as the other types I've tried here.
They make a respectable Tuna Sandwich (on Multigrain Bread).
It starts with a clean-tasting Tuna, not too much Mayonnaise, and nicely balanced with just the right amount of Capers and Sweet Pickles, with some Tomatoes and Mixed Greens. And once again, the fresh-baked Multigrain Bread is a standout.
Having recently tried some Macarons at Patisserie Chantilly, I was curious how Sumi Chang's version would turn out, so we order a Pistachio Macaron.
Euro Pane's version has a very light outer shell that crumbles easily, giving way to a delicious Cream filling. It's a touch too sweet, but it's lighter and more delicate than Patisserie Chantilly's version.
On my most recent visit, I suddenly remembered the cute article on Monkey Bread from Tasting Table LA, so I quickly order one. :)
The Monkey Bread is indeed crumbly, airy and fresh-baked. It's a touch dry in some spots, but only a little. Otherwise, it's spot-on delicious, lightly sweet and pillowy. :)
As my guests and I are ordering, we notice a huge pan of Ricotta Mushroom Frittata arriving fresh from the kitchen. How could we resist? :)
Their Frittata incorporates Mushrooms, Bell Peppers, Spinach, Mixed Field Greens and hearty chunks of Ricotta Cheese along with the Egg. It's still hot from the oven (which is a plus), and the vegetables are fine, but the Frittata is touch more dense than I'd like. Overall, it's good, but nothing outstanding.
Service at Euro Pane Bakery is pretty straightforward: Select what you want from the display case and place any other Sandwich or Drink orders at the counter. You take a number and seat yourself and the food is brought out to you. The utensils and napkins, etc. are all self-serve, along with free Filtered Water. Prices range from $2.25 - $5.50 for Pastries, and $7.50 - $8.75 for Sandwiches. We averaged about ~$15 per person (including tax and tip).
Euro Pane Bakery is rather interesting in that their baked goods range from mediocre (Zucchini Focaccia, Almond Bearclaw) to simply excellent (all of their fresh Breads (for their Sandwiches), Macadamia Nut Tart). One might argue that if they can't make an outstanding, basic Croissant, then how good can anything else be? But that's exactly where Euro Pane shines the most, with the surprising Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Sandwich, but an even more stunning Egg Salad Sandwich that features the best Egg Salad I've had anywhere around town. I'll be glad to return just for those two Sandwiches and maybe a Macadamia Nut Tart. :)
*** Rating: 7.0 (out of 10.0) ***
*** (Rating for Egg Salad Sandwich Only: 8.9 (out of 10.0)) ***
Euro Pane Bakery
950 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91106
Tel: (626) 577-1828
Hours: Mon - Sat, 7:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Sun, 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Euro Pane Bakery
950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106
Excellent report as always, exilekiss. That open-face egg salad sandwich looks like an egg lover's dream. Fellow Chowhound liu posted today about Euro Pane's excellent lemon bar in response to a post I made about Bite's (newish place in Santa Monica) memorable version. Don't know if you're partial to these but if you are, maybe give it a try and let us know - for the sake of research of course. :) Again, great read.
I am a lemon bar FIEND and can vouch for the Lemon Bar in Europane. It's has the perfect balance of custard and Lemon flavor without being overly eggy (Which I find even the Huckleberry one to be) . The ONLY lemon bar I like better is the lemon bar from Tartine in SF. My favorite lemon bar on the planet...
Hey D! and P too, my fave lemon bar is also Tartine Bakery (along with a lot of other spectacular baked goods!) but my fave version in S. Cal. is Cafe Zinc in Laguna Beach, more custardy than any that I've had anywhere along with a strong lemon flavor and good bottom crust. My beloved EuroPane makes the second best in our region, it is excellent (along with a lot of other spectacular baked goods!). The recurring theme reminds me that great bakeries are not 'one-trick ponies'!
I'm going to get slautered by my trainer this week but I must add the Lemon Bar offered at Bite Bar & Bakery which was both visually stunning (winner in the most beautiful lemon bar category) and generally excellent quality as in it tasted so good!
Bite Bar & Bakery
3221 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405
I actually did a Lemon bar taste test Europane vs Lovebirds (across the street from Europane) and determined that Lovebird's is much better. I currently have a lemon bar from Coffee Bean that my friend picked up for me this morning sitting here waiting for my verdict.
Altho the eggsalad, tuna, baguette, canales, croissants, tarts, macarons and everything else at Europane is excellent (as most of us have already known for years).
I drove by Lovebirds on the way to Euro Pane. I was wondering about them as I noticed they're a cafe AND bakery. So their lemon bar is pretty darned good... I see you've assessed your overall comparative judgement between the two places, but curiosity made me pull over and consider going into Lovebirds. How does my favorite Scandinavian Hound rate Lovebirds on its own?
Thanks. :) I normally don't even have brunch with my Pasadena Hounds, but because of that one visit last year, I've been going back just to try the rest of the menu at Euro Pane. :) I can't believe I missed their Lemon Bars. Thanks for the rec, and one more reason to go back when I visit my friends in the area again. :)
I just tried Euro Pane's Lemon Bar. I have to say that it is an excellent version. The shortbread crust is sturdy, tasty and melds nicely with the lemon portion on the palate. The lemon portion IS very eggy - I actually could taste the yolk. It IS very lemony - really bright lemon flavor - like a Lemon Head candy drop. But I think it's too lemony for me. This apparent wallflower of a lemon bar screams the taste of lemon in my mouth! And that's fine. It's a well-executed pastry. I think it all comes down to personal preference. And personally, I prefer Bite's lemon bar for now. I can be a wishy-washy bastard, though, so who knows - maybe I'll change sides on a whim! :)
Too lemony? How is that possible? It's a lemon bar!!!!
It is what I like best about it...but in all fairness, I haven't tried the one at Bite yet.
My only reservation with the lemon bar at Euro Pane is the crust. It is a little too heavy for my taste. I would be so happy with just a bowl of their lemon curd without the pastry and a cup of tea.
Okay, it is a lemon bar - I grant you that. But what makes a lemon bar enjoyable to me is how the egg yolks, lemon zest and sugar let the lemon juice still sing, but not scream. Elvis sang, James Brown screamed. Both were amazing, both gyrated, I preferred Elvis. Elvis was known for catching panties, I don't think James Brown was - -Elvis wins. :)
I can see where you stand on the crusts. Euro Pane's is very solid - slightly doughy in fact. That's okay - I think it's deliberate in order to hold up to someone biting into the bar without it collapsing in their lap. It tastes good as well, but maybe the lusciousness of the mouth gliding through the lemon filling shouldn't be so abruptly interrupted by that sturdy crust, right? I think the play that Bite offers is that their crust is more fragile and buttery, and the curd is soft and while you can't taste the butter in it, it plays the lemon juice even more, so now it not only doesn't scream nor gyrate, it's Bobby Darin-cool. It just feels right in the mouth as well as the taste buds for me.
As for a bowl of wonderful lemon curd and a cup of tea? How about a couple of shortbreads or a really nice cream scone with that? :)
You are so entertaining, bula-!
How do you quiet that Elvis/James Brown/Bobby Darin gyrating mind of yours?
With all that musical "noise" going on in your brain, how are you even able to taste those lemon bars?
I am going to put blinders on (so that I'm not tempted to order a brownie or one of their chocolate croissants) and try Bite's lemon bar.
By the way, this weekend I tried one of the Trader Joe's lemon bars (frozen...thaw for 40 minutes...12 tiny pieces in a pack) and they were quite fine.
Goodness, what a review. And you describe the Egg Salad Sandwich so perfectly. I am an egg fanatic in general, love and eat them every day in any which way, and I have never had a dish where the eggs are so lovingly cooked and, as you so beautifully said, so lusciously soft. I like a lot of their other dishes but it is Egg Salad Sand all the way. Thanks for the beautiful write up.
Nice. :) What's your favorite Bread to order with their Egg Salad Sandwich? I'm still trying out all the different possible combinations, but I've enjoyed it with their Multigrain and Olive Bread so far. I wonder if the crunchy, fresh Ciabatta might bring the Egg Salad to a whole new level, or if it would distract too much - the major crunch of their Ciabatta with the succulent, lushness of their Egg Salad?