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A touch of Paris: This NE Heights bistro is the ideal spot for an extended lunch

La Quiche Parisienne Bistro offers pastries, croissants, chocolatime, raisin and cinnamon rolls. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

La Quiche Parisienne Bistro offers pastries, croissants, chocolatime, raisin and cinnamon rolls. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — If you ask most people about their favorite meal of the day, their answer might depend on factors such as their schedule or their family or their recent experience with a great lunch spot or a new crock pot recipe.

However, ask a Parisian, and my guess is going to be late breakfast – and extended lunch. Those relaxed hours when a person can sip a coffee, nibble on pastries, and have a light entree with a glass of wine. Those are the meals you can enjoy without going to Europe when you visit La Quiche Parisienne.

Enjoy the airy space (formerly a national baked ham chain) dotted with tables and hugged by pastry cases displaying anything from croissants ($2.50) to loaves of brioche ($5.75) to dainty madeleines ($5.50 per half dozen) to seasonal specialties like late January’s king cakes ready for Mardi Gras.

Make your selections early before your appetite is blunted and the favorites are gone – croissants have a short retail life at this palace of butter and flour – then peruse the elegant menu for anything that sounds delicious. Forget the clock – have an omelette at 2 p.m. or a salad at 9 a.m. or whatever your heart desires. My favorite omelette is Provençal ($10.50), a delicate raft of eggs folded over ham, bacon, tomato and fresh herbs.

Standard lunch items include sandwiches made with in-house breads, whether croissants or slices.

The Croissant au Jambon ($9.50) is a delicious warm mess of ham, cream and swiss cheese.

Of course, you can have a Croque Madame ($10) with chewy white bread, cheese, ham and a saucy egg over easy on top. Now, let’s get fancier for a moment. Housemade pâté is a hook for my taste buds. Owners Bruno Barachin and Sabine Pasco make a lovely, rich version as part of their French Country Pâté sandwich ($13) served with mustard, cornichons and, of course, a miniature baguette. Enjoy the pâté as part of a larger spread with the L’Assiette Parisienne ($16) which adds salami, prosciutto and Brie to the mix.

Beyond sandwiches you can opt for heftier entrees perfect to keep one warm during winter days.

I love the Steak Frites ($16) – grilled steak and French fries, a classic and simple bistro dish if there ever was one. Here, the steak is seasoned perfectly and the fries are thin and fresh – it’s a wonderful dish. There are even more items to explore for future visits – mussels, ratatouille, classic French onion soup.

For now, however, I’m sated, content to take leisurely bites from a chocolate croissant or plunge a fork into a perfect omelette, steaming café au lait at my side.

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