In case you did not get the song association, it’s a play on Do you know the way to San Jose, the song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick. Ben Folds does a killer live version of it also. Anyway, I can’t seem to drive by St. Tropez without that song popping in my head with St. Tropez taking the place of San Jose. Now that we have that out of the way…if you are a fan of simple French bakery and bistro classics, you really should find your way to St. Tropez.
My obsession with simple French baguette sandwiches, quiche and the like started when I worked for a French software company based in Montpellier in the South of France. I made every excuse I could to travel there in the interest of “immersing myself in the company culture”. After the first trip I was hooked on the food, and the beaches of course. My first experience with a simple baguette with thin sliced ham or jambon de Paris as they call it, gruyere cheese, sliced cornichons and butter, was life changing. Yes, it was a simple sandwich, and maybe it had something to do with being in France, but it was also a result of the fresh, quality ingredients coming together in way that I’d not experienced to that point. Since then, I’ve made it a point to find a restaurant wherever I’ve lived that has been able to come close to providing that experience. St. Tropez in Encinitas is that local spot, and as an added bonus, they offer many other French classics, a pastry counter that is off the charts, and a location that is conducive to a French style leisurely meal.
So let’s start with the breakfast. I am a huge fan of crepes and quiche, and St. Tropez does them both very nicely. They offer a spinach crepe filled with fresh spinach in a light cream sauce topped with melted Swiss cheese, and a chicken and mushroom crepe with sautéed chicken in a mushroom wine sauce and topped with Swiss cheese for $8.75. The freshly baked quiche comes with a choice of homemade spinach, ham & cheese, veggie or goat cheese with herbs and sun dried tomatoes for $8.25. They offer a few different sides including a fruit cup that I get to give me a healthy piece of mind. By the way, the plural of quiche is quiche, not quiches. I heard that on A Way with Words, the popular NPR show. I see it used incorrectly all the time so I thought I would just throw that out there. Their quiche is very solid but has some strong local completion these days, especially at Darshan in Encinitas. But that’s another column in itself. They have a line of signature omelets that besides the classics offer some nice French twists including goat cheese and fresh herbs, spinach cream, and a vegetarian ratatouille and Swiss. All the omelets are under $10 and come with a choice of sautéed potatoes, fruit salad and choice of wheat or regular baguette.
Breakfast specialties include a Croque Monsieur, a grilled ham & cheese sandwich topped with a light cream sauce. The name is based on the verb croquer “to crunch” and the word monsieur “mister”. Translated, it’s a crunchy mister. The Croque Madame is the same thing with an egg on top, and the egg represents an old fashioned woman’s hat, hence the Madame. $8.25 for the Monsieur and $8.75 for the Madame. A breakfast sandwich on a fresh croissant, eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine, sweet crepes with Nutalla, bananas, and fruit and an Acai are also available. Is there a breakfast menu in Encinitas without an Acai bowl these days? It’s like the short ribs of breakfast, it’s everywhere.
Lunch at St. Tropez is my favorite. Besides the ham and cheese they have a great chicken curry croissant, and a Pan bagnat that has yellow fin tuna mixed with mayonnaise, celery, onion and topped with lettuce, tomato, boiled egg, olives, pickles & homemade dressing. All the sandwiches are under $9.
There is a full dinner menu with several classics including the classic Boeuf Bourguignon, a beef stew in red wine, carrots, celery, mushrooms, spices and served over linguine for $13.95 The Coq Au Vin is a delight also with chicken breast and leg sautéed in red wine, carrots, celery, onions and bacon. It’s served with rosemary roasted potatoes and veggies for $11.95.
I’d highly suggest finding your way to St. Tropez. Hours and location at www.sttropezbistro.com