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La Madeleine serves indulgent, flavorful French fare

The South of France has arrived in Uptown Albuquerque in the form of La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe, a small national chain of quaint eateries built on Parisian flavors.

La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe serves homemade soups, and French breakfast is available all day. (Jason K. Watkins/For The Journal)

Only a couple of months old, the restaurant has already hit its stride in Albuquerque, with great service and quality. Now’s the time to sample its fare for yourself.

Start your meal by ordering off the menu at the counter: Homemade soups include baked potato and French onion, but their signature tomato basil is the way to go. (So popular, in fact, you can buy a jar to take home.)

A cup of the tomato basil costs $4.50, but the creamy, rich soup is worth the price. Ripened tomatoes are puréed and cooked slowly with fresh basil and lots of cream. It’s an all-but-perfect recipe.

La Madeleine serves French breakfast all day, so you can order a custom omelet day or night. My guest (my mother) created her own ($8.39) with bacon, diced red peppers, onions and Swiss. The omelet was great, she said, even though they forgot the bacon.

Breakfast, and nearly every other dish, comes with a fresh-baked croissant that is alone worth the trip: fresh, buttery, flaky and full of guilty flavor.

She also ordered the quiche Lorraine ($6.29), made fresh daily. It serves one as a meal or two as an appetizer, and it doesn’t disappoint: some quiche is frozen, but this one is as fresh as it gets. It’s also amazing and filling.

For an entree, I tried the chicken cordon bleu pasta ($11.29), also served with a fresh croissant. It was delicious but not too rich or heavy, with bits of red bell pepper and peas in a fantastic Gruyere cheese sauce. Chunks of chicken breast are marinated in balsamic vinegar, sautéed and piled on top of al dente bow tie pasta.

Another charming find at La Madeleine is the restaurant’s self-serve bread bar with tiny cups of homemade strawberry jam and raspberry preserves. In fact, every part of Madeleine is charming, including the fresh-faced staff. Our service was friendly and attentive, and our meal was ready promptly and without compromise.

La Madeleine is a kid-friendly place, too, with children’s menu items like macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s also near Target, so parking is ample.

The star of the meal, though, came directly out of the well-stocked pastry case that greets you when you walk in. Dozens of varieties of delicate French pastries, fruit tarts, mini-muffins and chocolate cakes are at your fingertips; especially tasty are the namesake lemon Madeleine cookies and the miniature fresh-fruit tarts, each only a couple of bucks a piece. (Fresh bread is also available to take home.)

You won’t find burgers and fries on the menu at this rustic and charming little French bistro, but you will find plenty of flavors to choose from, all delicious.

Any appetite can be satisfied quickly for less than $15, which makes it a decent lunch-hour spot, but La Madeleine is best-suited for indulgent brunches and cold-weather comfort food.

Bon appétit!

3 stars


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