Any American-style neighborhood bakery that?s been open for nearly half a century is likely to have a signature treat, and at French?s Pastry Bakery, it?s the wagon wheel. The oversize danish is layered with a standard smear of cream cheese, then sweetened with a combination of fresh fruit, such as apricot or cinnamon apple. Other breakfast items include coffeecakes and muffins in flavors such as cranberry orange or honey bran. Of course, like the best dentist offices, there are desserts as well. Customers can take home whole pies or custom cakes made with real whipped cream or buttercream. Fresh banana filling tucks into chocolate cake, and ganache icing tops a cake layered with raspberry Bavarian cream. The Costa Mesa location bakes fresh bread on-location and uses it to serve up a variety of sandwiches. Each location has their own staff of bakers, so all items are baked fresh on-site.
The chefs at Queen's Bakery make all their dishes from scratch; they eschew preservatives, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavors in favor of ingredients such as pure cane sugar and wheat grown no more than 100 feet from a coronation crown. They bake their breads and sweets daily and brew a house tea blend each day. The staffers complement this brew with 16 other socially responsible teas—blacks, greens, herbals, and oolongs—harvested from Third World tea estates that provide housing and education for employees and their families.
At lunch, servers bring out European-inspired paninis and cold sandwiches with ingredients such as oven-roasted beef, blue cheese, and artichokes. They accompany many of these with housemade sauces such as shallot yogurt and lime-cilantro vinaigrette. For sweet conclusions, bakers sculpt treats such as cake pops, éclairs, and tiramisu, as well as colorful macarons. Many of these they decorate themselves, though patrons are welcome to bedeck desserts with their favorite colors or Al Pacino mugs during cupcake-, cake-, and cookie-decorating parties.
An open-flame hearth is at the heart of Cosi's kitchen space, giving sandwiches and pizzas their toasty crunch. But there's a lot more to the menu than what happens under the flame. The T.B.M. sandwich piles tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella inside warm flatbread and the tandoori chicken sandwich brightens up grilled chicken breast with red peppers. Even the salads make for hearty lunches; the cobb mixes greens with grilled chicken breast, bacon, and gorgonzola in a sherry-shallot vinaigrette. The crown of any meal here is undoubtedly the s'mores, which you get to roast over a tabletop fire pit before dragging your sleeping bag into the kitchen for a night's rest.