I finally had lunch today at Cafe Beaujolais with my friend Bill. (well, it was yesterday because I’m up late, but who’s being technical?). Chef David LaMonica and his fiancee Kristy Bishop bought the Mendocino icon in May 2006, and they have recently started serving lunch again. And while the lunch menu is completely different from the dinner service, it is still the same wonderful experience and food. The service was attentive without being annoying. Here’s what I find telling — both Bill and I drank coffee, and the staff unobtrusively made sure we were refilled as needed. As a diehard coffee fanatic, it’s great to not have to ask for more!
The 2 main sections on the menu were:
Soup, Salads, and More: offering several excellent salads, including an olive oil poached tuna Nicoise salad and the Shang-hi Chicken Salad. You’ll also find Dungeness crab cakes, wasabi-crusted rare ahi, and a cheese plate. The emphasis everywhere is on quality in the ingredients.
Sandwiches & Entrees: an excellent and varied selection includes a Niman Ranch burger and a broiled filet mignon sandwich, Gulf Prawn fettucini, and bouillabaisse. Bill had the Beaujolais Benedict, and he raved about it. It differs from the normal Benedict by using rye toast on the bottom, and using a Cayenne Mornay sauce (excellent!) instead of Hollandaise. I had the Applewood bacon, wild mushroom, and Gruyere quiche — also excellent.
The plates were garnished well (with fresh fruit), and the overall experience was what you would expect from dinner at Beaujolais — just cheaper and brighter. Choices in the soups and salads ranged from $8.50 to $16 (the ahi), and the sandwiches and entrees ranged from $9 to $19 (the filet mignon sandwich).
While you’re there, you can also buy some of the wonderful breads from the Brickery. Breads include several sourdoughs, Red Seal Rye, Austrian Sunflower, bagels, olive fougasse, Beaujolais Spelt, and Francese Con Biga. There are also a couple of specialty breads that are only made on certain days. The Brickery is open 7 days a week, from 11 am to 3 pm.
Margaret Fox, who founded Beaujolais in 1977, has been gone from the restaurant for 7 years, but I have to think that she is pleased at how David and Kristy have poured their energies and talents into this venerable institution.
All in all, a most congenial experience with excellent food and service. I don’t think you can beat it for the classiest lunch on the Coast!