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Moulin Bistro

October 15, 2015

One Saturday evening, seemingly out of the blue, my husband tells me that he wants to find a place to have brunch the next morning.  While my husband adores breakfast food, we don’t often go out for brunch because we tend to be lazy on the weekends and just can’t get ourselves up for brunch.  But, he got it into his head that he wanted to have brunch, so we started searching for brunch places located somewhere within decent driving distance of us.  After throwing out a few ideas and then subsequently rejecting them, my husband finally located a place that had opened up within the past year that he found extremely interesting.  He asked me to read through the restaurant’s website on his phone to see what my opinion of the place would be.  The restaurant was actually a French bistro, which sounded like a really cool idea.  Considering we had a trip to Paris coming up in a couple of months, I thought a French bistro would be a great experience to prepare us for our vacation.


Moulin Bistro is the brainchild of a native Parisian who moved to California in the 1980s but has missed his hometown ever since.  In 2014, the owner opened up Moulin Bistro as an homage to the Montmartre district of Paris where he was born and raised where the cafe and bistro scene is a staple.  Moulin Bistro recreates the sights, sounds, and smells of authentic Parisian cafes and serves of fresh-artisan baked breads, classic French dishes and specialities.  With an on sight boulangerie and patisserie, everything you could find at a cafe in Paris you can find at Moulin Bistro.  Even the majority of employees at the bistro itself are mainly French.  It’s like stepping out of Orange County, and into your favorite French cafe.


When you step into the bistro, you notice right away that it’s divided into a couple of different sections.  The section near the front entrance to the bistro is the cafe.  Here, you find display cases filled with the daily food specials made fresh daily in store.


The cafe serves up pre-made sandwiches made with classic French ingredients such as ham and cheese or duck pate.  You can also find veggie sandwiches or chicken pesto, to name a few.  The sandwiches are all served up on French baguettes baked in house.  You can get the sandwiches to go for a meal later or have them plate it up so you can eat at the bistro.  There’s also a section of warm dishes, especially side dishes that compliment the cafe’s speciality dish: rotisserie chicken.  You’ve got mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables and other dishes.  There were also cold salads such as beet salad, cucumber salad and even Greek salad.


You can’t have a French bistro without a display of cheeses.  Various different types of cheeses imported from France complimented a nearby display cases full of cold cuts and smoked meats.  You could make your own cheese and charcuterie plate.


The next section of the store was the patisserie with a long display case filled with all sorts of delicious looking homemade French pastries.  Eclairs of various flavors, fresh fruit tarts and pies.  Everything looked so glorious and wonderful I was tempted to skip brunch all together and just have a plate full of pastries.  That could be breakfast, right?  How can you resist the delectable tiramisu cup and fresh apple tart?


The patisserie was also where you could pick up items baked at the boulangerie to take home.  Now this could have been breakfast.  Croissants, chocolate croissants, cheese Danishes, mini pastries, palmieres, and fresh baked breads.  You know we couldn’t go home with at least some goodies from the boulangerie.  I ended up taking home a palmiere to enjoy at home, which was fantastic.  Sticky and fresh and just that hint of cinnamon goodness.  Also, my husband had to take home a fresh-baked French baguette.  It was fantastic and delicious.


Next to the patisserie was a small store that sold all sorts of French sweets and jams and cooking spices and all sorts of other French knickknacks.  There were also some cookbooks and other kitschy items.


If you came to the bistro to enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner, then all you need to do is step up to the counter, right next to the coffee bar, and place your food order.  Your coffee and other drink orders are made for you right away, and your food order is taken.  You’re then given a number which you take to a table and you wait for your food to be delivered.  The bistro has both indoor and outdoor seating.


Moulin Bistro’s outdoor seating is a cute little patio built right outside the front door of the store.  On a nice weekend morning in Orange County, sitting outdoors on the patio is a great way to enjoy a Sunday morning.  Outdoor seating centered around a small fountain and small tables set up under umbrellas create an inviting space to enjoy the morning.


For our brunch, my husband couldn’t resist ordering a glass of the fresh-queezed orange juice.  There’s just something about fresh-squeezed orange juice that you can taste.  Without any of the added sugar or other flavorings, the taste of fresh-squeezed is just so pure and real.  Not always sweet and sometimes quite tangy, but unique and delicious.  We’re at a French cafe, I have to order coffee.  Actually, make that a latte.  Served with some sugar cubes rather than sugar packets.  Ahh, that rich hit of coffee in the morning.  Perfect.


Each breakfast order came with a side of bread and butter.  But, we’re at a French bistro, so it’s not just any old bread served at the table.  It’s a baguette.  Served with butter and a couple of jars of French jam.  My husband isn’t generally a fan of jams and jellies, but he couldn’t resist just giving the jam a little try.  When in France…. well, when at a French bistro, you gotta try what they serve you.


For my breakfast, I ordered what I normally would have expected my husband to order, les eggs Benedicte with ham.  Or, in plain English, that’s eggs Benedict.  Served with a light, and delicious side salad dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, the eggs Benedict were phenomenal.  The English muffin was toasty and crunchy.  The ham was terrific with great flavor and lots of it piled on top of the English muffin.  The eggs were perfectly poached and terrifically runny once you cut into them.  This is exactly how poached eggs should be.  And I loved the Hollandaise sauce.  I’m always a little weary of Hollandaise sauce because you never know how its going to be.  I’m not a great lover of Hollandaise sauce, and I especially don’t love it when the sauce is thick and they pile it on all over whatever it’s being served over.  However, here at Moulin, they do it just the way I like it.  The Hollandaise sauce is thin and liquidy more than thick and clumpy.  The sauce itself tasted terrific and just slightly tangy, which gave it great flavor to offset the salty flavor of the ham.  To me, this is how Hollandaise sauce should be made.  This was probably the best eggs Benedict I’ve ever had with the combination of the great Hollandaise sauce as well as the beautifully poached egg.


My husband, who is the ultimate lover of eggs Benedict, found something else on the brunch menu that piqued his interest more than eggs Benedict.  It has to do with cheese, that’s the one thing in this world my husband can never say no to.  Le Croque Madame was my husband’s brunch selection.  Essentially, a croque madame is Moulin’s version of a croque monsieur but with an egg on top.  So what is a croque monsieur?  It’s the French version of a ham and cheese sandwich.  A croque monsieur is 2 pieces of bread with ham and Emmanthal cheese sandwiched in the middle.  Béchamel sauce is poured over the top and then the sandwich is grilled.  With the croque madame, an egg is put on top of the sandwich.  This is definitely a fork and knife kind of sandwich, and my husband loved it.  The sandwich was rich, and delicious.  The Emmanthal cheese adds a nutty flavor, the ham adds saltiness, and the béchamel sauce adds rich creaminess.  Everything is tied together with the luscious egg and the runny yolk that runs through the sandwich when you cut through the egg.  My husband was a huge fan of this sandwich, it’s like a regular ham and cheese taken 10 levels higher.  Exactly what my husband was looking for, and way better than he expected it to be.  Definitely a brunch success.

After stopping at the patisserie on our way out of Moulin Bistro to pickup a strawberry tart, palmiere and baguette, we were set.  Months later, we’re still talking about how terrific our experience at Moulin Bistro was.  We will be back for sure because there’s not another place we’ve been to in Southern California that has the authentic feel that Moulin Bistro gave us.  The food was terrific, the experience was phenomenal.  It was like stepping over the threshold and right into a Parisian cafe.  A very cool experience that we need to experience over and over again.

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