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Cafe charms and has few flaws

Table service might be better than current service system.

June 03, 2011|By Lisa Dupuy
  • A small fruit Florentine with a cafe mocha. Restaurant review at Leon Cafe & Bakery in Glendale on Thursday, June 2, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
A small fruit Florentine with a cafe mocha. Restaurant…

Charming as a Parisian sidewalk café, Leon Bakery and Café is the newest addition to the Verdugo Woodlands neighborhood. With a vast display case of artistic pastries, a tower of rustic homemade breads and a casual menu of things that go well with coffee, Leon tempts the eye and, for the most part, pleases the palate.

The food at Leon runs the gamut from “wonderful in every way” to “more style than substance.” I went three times just to make sure of my assessment. My favorite meal was breakfast, which happens after 9 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The breakfast croissant ($7.50) is very good. It comes stuffed with scrambled eggs, cheese and a choice of sausage, bacon or ham, the latter of which I highly recommend for its strong, smoky flavor. The eggs Florentine ($10.50) is nicely presented and tasty as well, with poached eggs, spinach and a mild hollandaise sauce.

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The stars at lunch are the paninis and the tartines. My son adored his pastrami panini ($6.50) with its lovely grill marks and flavorful meat. I liked the prosciutto tartine ($9) because I could build each bite as I wished. The large plate holds an open-faced sandwich on thin bread with cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and olives on the side for stacking. I was not as pleased with the soups. They come in absurdly large bowls, which might be fine if they were incredibly scrumptious. The lentil soup was not. But it definitely doesn’t work with the French onion soup ($7.50) because the large size precludes it from being placed under the broiler as befits proper onion soup.

Finally, the five pastries we tried were a bit of a disappointment. While all were aesthetically pleasing and the texture on most was light and crispy, the flavors were barely discernible. For instance, the meringue on the lemon meringue tart ($3.50) is beautifully toasted, but heavy; and the filling does not have nearly enough lemon “zing” to it.

Leon does have a kids’ menu ($2.75 to $4) and, coming this summer, a selection of ice cream sundaes. This might be a nice spot for moms to relax and pretend they’re cosmopolitan travelers again. They have a fine selection of loose-leaf teas and are an official purveyor of Peet’s Coffee.

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