Monday, October 23, 2006

Cafe Blanc

From the outside, it is just another bakery in a strip mall. But from the inside, Costa Mesa's Cafe Blanc is full of treasures. I just heard about Cafe Blanc this weekend, so naturally I had to swing by the cafe "on my way home" today.

When I entered, I was greeted with a friendly wave from the counter woman as well as the chef in the back. Although the inside of the bakery is simply decorated, Cafe Blanc holds your attention with its thoughtful elegance. The bakery is designed so that customers can view preparations through a mirror positioned above the pastry chef's workstation, and customer and chef can also interact through the glass window separating the kitchen and the seating area.

When you order a pastry, you are served at a small table with the typical silverware and napkin ensemble. It's all standard enough, but as you look down at your plate, this visit to the bakery feels like a special occasion. The dish has been lovingly decorated, and a small scoop of complimentary gelato sits alongside your pastry. The attention to detail, the visual experience, and the overall presentation is exquisite, and unlike anything else you can find at a typical bakery in the area.

An after work treat at Cafe Blanc: My heavenly Ojai Mandarin Orange Tart

Yet Cafe Blanc's creations are far more than just eye candy for the pastry enthusiast. When I heard Chef Harase's philosophy was to "serve happiness", I knew his bakery would be something special. As I took my first bite of the Ojai Mandarin Orange tart, it almost brought tears to my eyes. And when the mandarin orange gelato melted in my mouth, my heart melted right along with it. Here in Southern California, it is a rare occasion when I find a baked goods that are reminiscent of my finds in Europe. Harase has truly inspired me! My heart was pumping as I left the bakery, and I started to call (almost) everyone I know, at least the people who share in my bakery addiction. My squeals of delight were left on one voicemail box after another. There were also a few frantic text messages. It's not every day that a hunt turns out this well. Run, don't walk, to Cafe Blanc the next chance you get:

298 E. 17th Street Unit B

Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(949) 631-9999

Cafe Blanc's exterior

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