We are Francophiles, and why not?
The French love food. In fact, they love the entire eating experience. We've nailed the first part but need to work on the second.
We found an opportunity at Mon Ami Café & Bakery. Opened in March, Mon Ami occupies the former Globe Market space on Main Street.
Fresh off our short NFTA Metro Rail ride we entered the bright, beautiful interior playing quiet, calm music. It was a balm to our work-weary souls.
Mon Ami follows the trendy, efficient format of ordering at a counter with food delivered by a server. The menu is a mix of breakfast, brunch and lunch items perfectly pared down so there is no agonizing (well, maybe a little, but only because you’ll want everything).
Greg Grigorian and Armen Pogosyan opened Mon Ami with a food philosophy based around the idea of incorporating French cuisine with an American/Buffalonian style. Hence the Buffalo quiche made with chicken, celery, hot sauce and blue cheese ($8.50).
Breakfast is served all day and includes a nice variety from organic muesli ($6) with dried fruit to a Parisian eggs Benedict ($9.25) that pairs poached eggs, ham and bacon on a croissant with hollandaise. The Americain ($8.50) is the usual two eggs, bacon/sausage with bread or croissant, potatoes or cup of fruit. The Better With Gruyère is the same, with Gruyère cheese and eggs ($8.50). We would order the Salmon Morning, just to see the potato galette with Gruyère, salmon and a fried egg ($11.50).
It wouldn’t be French without omelettes ($9.50) made your way from a list of ingredients. Or crêpes, which you can also make your own way ($8.50). The Crêpe Mon Ami ($6.50) comes with strawberries and vanilla ice cream.
As much as we love breakfast, we went for lunch.
Sandwiches come with chips. Add soup or a side salad for $2.50. Crêpes come with a side salad or cup of soup.
[Related: 5 places to feel French in Buffalo]
A Chicken Parisien (10.50) used thick, perfectly toasted sourdough to enclose juicy balsamic chicken, crisp bacon, cheddar and tomatoes.
The chicken crêpe ($8.50) wrapped a tender crêpe around a succulent chicken and mushroom cream filling. The simple vinaigrette dressed greens were the ideal complement to the rich dish.
My croque madame ($9.75) – a fancy French grilled cheese – was heavenly. Grilled French bread came filled with ham, nutty melted Gruyère, béchamel sauce and Parmesan. Topped with a bright yellow fried egg, it was decadent and delicious. Its counterpart, a croque monsieur leaves off the egg ($9.50).
The tomato-based house lentil soup was savory and flavorful. It defied what can sometimes be a blah soup. The French onion was a revelation. Not the harsh, salty concoctions often served, this soup was sweet from the onions. Delicate tasting, it arrived topped with a lovely baked cap of cheese. Tomato basil is the third house soup. Served with a slice of baguette, any soup would make a nice tidy lunch ($4.50 cup/$6 bowl).
There is much to return for, like a roast beef French dip with ultra creamy garlicky-herby boursin cheese ($9.75) or the Salad Fermiere ($9) with Swiss cheese, apples, raisins, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette (add chicken $2.50). For traditionalists, a simple quiche Lorraine of bacon, onion and cheese ($8); for millennials, a smoked salmon avocado toast ($12.50).
Beverages include fresh-squeezed orange juice and French press coffee for two ($4.50).
Admittedly, I started lunch with a single, darling crème brûlée cream puff ($1.25) from the pastry case. Light and crisp with a crackled brûléed top, the sweet, creamy filled confection was perfection.
What would the French think of this faux pas? I bet they would applaud my decision.
298 Main St., Cathedral Park Side (551-0472; monamibuffalo.com)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Closed Saturday.
Price range: $6 to $12.50.
Wheelchair-accessible: Yes, via the Main Street entrance.
Gluten-free options: Buckwheat gluten-free crêpe and waffle.
Parking: Ramp or limited street. NFTA Metro Rail between Seneca and Church Street stations.
Big star: Servers deliver water without asking.