Léa Parisian Sandwiches was inspired by simple peasant foods the owners, Nicolas and Colleen Caulliez, enjoyed in France. They wanted to bring the artisan breads and pastries of Paris to Chicago. They make traditional French baguette bread and pastries, without preservatives, in-house daily. They now have 2 locations and you can find their full menu on <Leafrenchcafe.com>. We went to the location near the Chicago Cultural Center and it was on a corner. Windows line two sides of the place. When you walk in a wall of rolling pins greets you and below are several computers where you can place you order and pay your tab. An abbreviated menu is overhead. They call your name out when yours is ready. A number of small tables are along the windows and a bench lines the other wall. The tile floor is the main decoration. To use the bathroom you need to get a key from the counter people. I give 2 thumbs up to this place.
Le Parisien Baguette sandwich is on a housemade demi baguette, cut in half and comes with a bag of chips. The Parisien contains lightly smoked Beelers ham, Swiss cheese and local salted butter. The excellent bread was perfect for this classic sandwich. The ingredients were just right – not too much or too little. I’ve had stronger hams, but these ingredients were well balanced and who really cared when the bread is so good. The sandwich came with a bag of crisp, thick chips and they were fine.
Their housemade pastries are whatever is in the counter. We chose 2, an almond croissant and a shortbread caramel bar. Both were good but the almond croissant really stood out. It was cut in half and the almond flavoring was spread inside. This gave it flavor throughout instead of just in the middle. The buttery croissant dough was fantastic too. The shortbread bar had a good buttery shortbread base and nice caramel with chocolate and nuts but it just didn’t sing like the almond croissant.