It was a warm, sunny Sunday morning. As I walked, I enjoyed the artist’s goods that were set up along the way. A chanteuse sang Feuilles d’automne while people nearby enjoyed baguettes, espresso, wine and Pain Perdu. As I entered Moulin Bistro, the aroma of fresh-baked French pȃtisseries hit me, while in the display case at the front, paté de truffles and French cheeses tempted me before I even looked at a menu. Memories of a similar morning in Paris came to me, when I strolled down Rue Montmartre on a similar day. Today, however, I wasn’t in Paris, but strolling along instead on the sidewalk at the Moulin Bistro in Newport Beach. With the art show and live music, it was easy to picture oneself in the City of Lights, enjoying a typical Parisian morning.
Today, Friday September 25, Moulin Bistro celebrates its 1-year anniversary. Proprietor Laurent Vrignaud set out to re-create the bistro that he enjoyed so much in his native France and he has succeeded completely. All the signs and artwork on the walls were brought back from numerous trips to France and the French baking ovens were brought back from France also. To step inside Moulin Bistro is to take a trip to France, not just because of the food but because of the atmosphere also.
On Sunday, I dined with two jolies femmes at Moulin Bistro. After champagne and mimosas, we ordered the Plat du Jour, or Special of the Day; Pain Perdu (French Toast); a Croque Monsieur and a Croque Madame (grilled ham and cheese in two different styles). The ordering is fast-casual simple, just order from the menu at the counter and the food will be delivered to your table. While we were waiting, a small tray with some delicious goat cheese and sliced baguette was brought for us to snack on. Shortly thereafter, our plates were brought to the table.
The Croque Monsieur and the Croque Madame were both made with a house-made ham. The primary difference in these sandwiches is that the Croque Madame is topped with a sunnyside-up egg. The gruyère cheese had a delicious, slightly nutty flavor and was melted perfectly. The Pain Perdu was made from delicious slices of bread and dipped in an egg batter that infused the bread with sweetness, flavor and a perfect moistness. In true French fashion, no syrup is served, but instead a delightful orange butter can be spread on the warm French toast. Fresh fruit topped the bread and added some nice texture to the dish.
The Plat du Jour was a hearty platter of food. Sunday’s Daily Special included bacon, scrambled eggs, an Eggs Bénédicte and two hearty sausages along with a cup of fresh fruit. The Eggs Bénédicte was wonderful, topped with a perfectly poached egg and some excellent hollandaise sauce. The Eggs Bénédicte can be ordered either plain, traditional (with ham) or with salmon. Also of note on the platter were the sausages, two large ones in different styles. One was made with spices suggestive of a standard breakfast sausage, while the other was more of a mild bratwurst style. Both were equally delicious.
Shortly thereafter, a nice double-shot espresso was brought to the table. In the coffee, like most items, Laurent tries to source locally and in this case he has a local roasting company roast the beans for him. It was excellent espresso, brought to the table the true European way, with a small spoon topped with a sugar cube and a square of excellent chocolate. Accompanying the espresso were some fresh fig tarts and a chocolate éclair. Made by the in-house bakery and overseen by a French baker, the pȃtisseries were an excellent way to end the meal.
As I listened to the crowd talking, I heard plenty of French being spoken. Looking around inside, it is easy to see that Moulin Bistro is not only popular, but authentic too. As I walked out, past the chanteuse and her accordionist serenading the diners with La Vie en Rose, I was amazed that the feeling I’d had was not touristy, but more that I had just been transported to Paris for a relaxing, local’s morning on the Place du Moulin.
1000 Bristol Street North
Newport Beach, CA 92660