Not your run-of-the-mill sandwich shop, Baguettes comes with built-in credentials. It’s the latest venture by Bret and Debbie Bohlmann, owners of Boulevard Bistro, Elk Grove’s best-known—and some might argue only—fine-dining establishment.
Head Chef Bret calls Baguettes a natural extension of the California-style experimentation with fresh, local ingredients he and his wife undertook to rave reviews at Boulevard. Long-term plans include a catering service, outdoor seating and full breakfast and lunch menus. But for now, the deli focuses on serving rustic, gourmet sandwiches in an ambience that can only be described as Ikea chic.
I stopped by Friday afternoon for a lunch date with my college-aged son. Tucked away in the Old Elk Grove Shopping Center on Elk Grove Florin Road, Baguettes welcomes visitors with cheery red-painted trim, floor to ceiling glass windows and planters of red blooms.
We walked in and immediately helped ourselves to the tasty almond horn dessert samples that were made by Rhodora of Signature Desserts by Rhodora. Both businesses share the kitchen space and they seem to complement each other. As we enjoyed our samples, we were greeted by Chef Bret, an Elk Grove native, who told us the special of the day. My son ordered the roasted turkey and I ordered the vegetarian sandwich, which we topped off with a couple of Tazo peach drinks.
The sandwiches arrived in less than five minutes, and my crusty baguette was generously stuffed with roasted bell peppers, tomato, pesto, thinly sliced provolone, and arugula. The wonderful chili pepper vinaigrette set off the flavors of the fresh veggies. My son’s sliced sourdough panino with roasted turkey, brie, pesto, arugula and walnut dressing also impressed. The pesto and brie, despite their richness, didn’t overpower the other ingredients.
A side salad of asparagus, tomato and red onions was topped with large homemade croutons—a healthy alternative to chips. Baguettes offers one seasonal side and soup every day. The still-evolving menu the week we went also included cream of asparagus soup and focaccia, ciabatta and brioche bread options. (Sandwiches can also be ordered as large salads, for the carb-avoiders among us.) Pork rillettes—a dish similar to pate prepared with herbs and marinated in duck fat for several days—were set to debut the following week.
The deli’s wonderful natural light makes the petite space seem larger than it is. When all is said and done, Baguettes will seat approximately 14 customers at tables and a countertop reminiscent of wooden chopping blocks. Tin planters full of herbs perched on each table provide the perfect amount of color. The use of black plastic plates and utensil packets unfortunately down-played the meal; a simple white ceramic plate and stainless utensils would have been more in keeping with the restaurant’s crisp casualness.
When the deli is running at full speed, Chef Natalie from Boulevard Bistro will transition to Baguettes, bringing along her baking expertise. It will be exciting to see how this deli evolves over time. Already, the creative combinations of flavors, simple décor and friendly vibe give Baguettes that café charm that is so refreshing to see here in Elk Grove.
9380 Elk Grove-Florin Road
Open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.