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On the Menu: Ooh la la! A taste of France in Pacific Beach at The French Gourmet

Roasted lamb at The French Gourmet.
(Courtesy of The French Gourmet)

Treat mom to a special brunch buffet on May 8

Still deciding where to treat mom on Mother’s Day or another special person — or yourself — any other day of the year?

Well, if a trip to France is not possible at the moment, how about enjoying a culinary flavor of it via The French Gourmet in Pacific Beach?

The charming PB bistro, bakery and wine boutique under one roof offers French delights with a fresh, casual California twist, and fine, imported wines to please the palates of the most discriminating oenophiles (wine connoisseurs).

The French Gourmet in Pacific Beach.
(Courtesy of The French Gourmet)

It was founded by Michel Malécot, a native of Normandy, France, who wears many hats as the chef, owner, founder and president of The French Gourmet on the rim of La Jolla and Pacific Beach.

Malécot, who was raised on sprawling bucolic pastures, naturally evolved into a farm-to-table trailblazer through the tutelage of his older brother, a chef who inspired him to create dishes using ingredients harvested from their farm and garden.

Want to visit?

The French Gourmet

Address: 960 Turquoise St., Pacific Beach

Phone: 858-488-1725

Website: thefrenchgourmet.com

Restaurant hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Bakery hours: Open daily — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

Good to know: There are Happy Hour specials on select appetizers and drinks from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays

At 16, Malécot launched his gustatory journey in his homeland when he enrolled in Saint-Amand-Montrond Culinary School, then navigated through the shoals of fine dining throughout Europe, on the high seas aboard the cruise ship Le Mermoz, then trickled across the Atlantic to the United States.

Here he eventually landed at 960 Turquoise St. with a pit stop on Pearl Street, where he first established The French Gourmet over four decades ago with a brick-and-mortar bakery plus a catering arm.

Upon approaching, heavenly aromas drifting onto the quaint, dog-friendly patio bedecked with Dijon-striped awnings and canvas teal umbrellas pull you inside to the eye-popping bakery case filled with rows of home-baked goodies. Those with a sweet tooth can indulge in everything from cheese Danishes, twice-baked almond croissants, apple turnovers and éclairs to crème brulees, seasonal tarts, a colorful array of macarons and a list of custom-made cakes longer than the Loire River. Let’s start with Napoleon or maybe Black Forest, Pralinsko, raspberry bagatelle, tiramisu, chocolate mousse or carrot.

The French Gourmet will offer a wide variety of desserts as part of its special brunch buffet on Mother's Day.
(Courtesy of The French Gourmet)

Now strolling into the dining area, one feels like an American in Paris; the amber stuccoed walls dressed with murals of the lush northern French countryside, the tables draped in checkered damask and the room bathed in soft, dim lighting amidst elegant yet casual furnishings.

While most of Malécot’s regular customers are loyal locals and La Jollans, the bistro attracts diners from up and down the county and beyond. Some of the most popular dishes include oven-baked French onion soup, heirloom roasted beet salad, escargot in an herb garlic butter sauce, steamed black mussels, Dijon-crusted rack of lamb, roasted duck with raspberry and currant sauce, and braised beef cheeks.

Early risers and brunch lovers can choose brioche French toast, eggs Benedict, classic quiches, Parisian mac and cheese, grass-fed burgers and Parmesan truffle fries.

Ahh, and for the piece de resistance —the Mother’s Day brunch buffet on Sunday, May 8 is serving bottomless mimosas to accompany delights from the sea like poached salmon, mussels ravigote and octopus arrabiata caponata. There will also be a carving station offering leg of lamb and filet mignon. Of course there will also be assorted fruits, pastries and a dessert station with a chocolate fondue.

A grass-fed burger with Parmesan truffle fries at The French Gourmet.
(Courtesy of The French Gourmet)

Malécot, a gustatory purist, said he insists on baking every item from scratch, and using local, seasonal, sustainable, grass-fed, GMO-free and organic ingredients whenever possible. This reflects his business ethos of “taking great pride and enjoyment in serving the community with the best products we can create.”

Malécot also embraces an attitude of gratitude, always counting his blessings for his loyal customers, employees, suppliers and especially the assistance he received from the government throughout the period of COVID restrictions.

“I’ve been in business for 43 years, but during the pandemic I had to take on a new challenge and adapt our business model to survive,” Malécot said. “Now I’m having so much fun seeing all these avenues working so smoothly.”

The multi-tasking chef not only created an online store selling popular items like birthday and special occasion cakes, but also reinvented and expanded his business with a new line of chilled, prepared entrees and assorted holiday dishes for individual and family meals.

Murals add to the ambiance at The French Gourmet.
(Courtesy of The French Gourmet)

It’s no wonder this talented and dedicated French gourmet has received the Chevalier du Merite Agricole (National French Award for Distinguished Services as a Professional Chef), and the prestigious “Gold Key Award for Food and Beverage Person of the Year.”

But there’s more. The French Gourmet has also been voted “Best Casual French Restaurant and Caterer” by readers of The San Diego Union-Tribune year after year, and received “San Diego’s Finest Service Award” by the San Diego Tourism Authority, among others.

Recipe from The French Gourmet

Salmon Dijonnaise at The French Gourmet.
(Courtesy of The French Gourmet)

Salmon Dijonnaise

Ingredients:

4 portions of salmon fillet - 5 to 6 oz. each

For marinade:

4 oz. of olive or avocado oil-based mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp. of grain Dijon mustard

1 tsp. of chopped fresh tarragon

White pepper, to taste

Instructions:

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

• In a small mixing bowl, combine the marinade ingredients.

• Coat the salmon with half of the marinade mixture.

• On a parchment-lined cookie sheet place fillets belly side up, and spread the remaining marinade on each fillet.

• Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, checking after 10 minutes so you don’t overcook.

Courtesy of Chef Michel Malécot


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