Exactly one month from today I will step off a plane in Paris, beginning a week of food, wine and more food and wine as part of a tour I'm co-leading with Kevin Fonzo and Art in Voyage - Beyond Travel. I can't wait -- it's been almost five months since my last visit to Paris. Luckily, I'll only have to wait three months after this trip to return.
I sort of like Paris.
One of the great comforts of Paris is waking up and strolling to one of the neighborhood boulangeries for freshly baked croissants, sitting in the flat on the balcony as the sun streams in, sipping coffee and nibbling on the croissant with just a smear of butter or jam.
I don't know why it should be so difficult to find suitable croissants stateside. But I found a pretty good one at Cafe 906 in Baldwin Park. In fact, with the exception of the atmosphere, which is a little too industrial, Cafe 906 is a very nice French cafe.
Besides the croissant, which, like most of the baked goods, was made on premises, I had a Croque Madame, the inside-out ham and cheese sandwich found at most corner bistros. It's a Croque Monsieur -- two slices of bread with thinly sliced ham and gruyere with some creamy béchamel inside and out to richen it up. A fried egg on top makes it a Madame. Make your own snide comments about that.
Cafe 906's was indeed creamy with the slightest hint of salt from the ham. It was served with a salad with vinaigrette on the side.
Croque Monsieur, by the way, translates to mister crunch or, to some, crunch, sir. That may be because some versions of the snack are fried. I prefer they type served here.
As I said, I didn't much care for the sterile interior. If it's a nice day, try to snag one of the outside tables. Much more pleasant.
The name is a curiosity. I usually assume that a restaurant with a number in its name is a reference to the address. There's 310 Park South, for example. Cocina 214 is an exception, the number referencing the area code of Dallas.
Cafe 906 is at 4932 New Broad St. And 906 is not the area code of France. It turns out that before moving to Baldwin Park, the business was located on Fairbanks Avenue, indeed at 906, the current home of Phil Kean Real Estate. (No matter how much you beg, Phil won't bake you a croissant.) The name, I was told, was kept after the move so as not to confuse people. OK.
Whatever. Make me a croissant and sandwich that can make me think of Paris and I don't care what you call the place.
Cafe 906 is open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday. There is no website but you can find the menu on its Facebook page. The phone number is 407-960-5906.