la dijonaise cafe et boulangerie
8703 washington blvd.
culver city, ca 90232
if it hadn’t been for the few minutes of the parking lot primaries, three of us standing there, trying to decide which restaurant would be our winning candidate for lunch, we would have made the 11:00 am cut-off for le petit dejeuner (breakfast) at la dijonaise. by the skin of our teeth! we missed les omelettes and les ouefs by the skin of our teeth, and had to settle for the lunch menu.
la dijonaise is a cafe et boulangerie in the same helms complex as beacon (which i visited just last week) and the jazz bakery in culver city. like the other establishments in the complex, ceilings are high and the decor is clean and simple. just inside the front door, there is a case of pastries, perfect for dashing in at 8 am and grabbing with a latte to go. it looks like the pastries are also a good lunch option because at 11:30, there's a small line forming at the register. there are plenty of tables, and i notice that they rapidly fill up through the course of our lunch.
If you call it “le cheeseburger,” and it’s served with french fries, then perhaps most everything on la dijonaise's menu is french. i passed on the soupe du jour, a vegetarian white bean, and ordered the soupe a l’oignon instead. a few minutes under the broiler had properly welded shut the chubby little crock pot, leaving behind crisp little bubble-scars all over the swiss cheese seal. i tore through the cheese, to get to the sweet and salty onions, but had to fish out the round of bread thoroughly soaked through with broth. call me a heretic, but the bread in french onion soup is always just too soggy for my taste, and yes, i do know it’s supposed to be like that.
the lobster bisque was a soft, glossy rose color, and i would have given it a taste if weren’t for the fact that i am not particularly fond of lobster. besides, reaching right across the table and dipping my spoon in my boss’s bowl might have been considered over-stepping the boss-underling boundary. that’s why i also didn’t take a bite of his saumon sauce dill, grilled and perched atop a pile of fresh greens, or my other dining companion’s “le garden burger," complete with a side of french fries.
outfitted with thin shavings of parmesan cheese, my caesar salad was ok, but caesar salad is caesar salad. it’s never bad, and very rarely outstanding. together with the soggy bread from the soup, the oddly orange and overly-hard croutons made for a normal piece of bread, so i left them on the plate. next time, i’ll try the salade nicoise, so i can compare against l’hermitage, the other french place just up the street.
The boss picked up the tab this time, but i wouldn't mind going back and paying for a relatively inexpensive lunch. most everything was priced between $5 and $8, with only the bouillabaise as high as $17 (but who eats bouillabaise for lunch anyway?) next time, gotta get there before 11 for the pain perdu!