Here’s how it works at this immensely popular boulangerie: Walk in the door and when you’re greeted in French ‘fess up that you don’t parlez. They’ll thank you for it. Switching easily into English, the greeter will show you to a tiny table and point you to the back of the room where you (quickly) peruse the enormous chalkboard menu of sandwiches and panini mostly priced at $10 or less. Tell the folks behind the cheese, salad and meats counter what you’re having. Every item is numbered so you can just ask for, say, a two and a six. The menu is in French, so brush up a bit on your food vocab ahead of time, or just choose something that sounds good. Give them your table number, and go back to have a seat and a short wait. They move fast here: They have to keep up with the lunch rush.
I chose the Nouveau Chevre panino, pictured, with goat cheese and caramelized onions on perfect bread and served with housemade ketchup. Would I have ever considered profaning chevre with ketchup? Uh, no. But I trusted they wouldn’t offer it that way if it weren’t good--and was happy to discover that was a good choice. Who would have thought? My husband loved the Truite fumée sandwich--smoked trout with capers, tomatoes, cream cheese and spinach--as much as I dug mine.
I’d have liked to linger, as the warm, snug room was a reprieve from the cold outdoors, and the smell of freshly baked bread and brewing coffee makes me happy, but people at the door were eying our tiny table with hunger. We gave up our seat and joined the throng around the cash register. To avoid the fumbling confusion I experienced, handle the transaction like this: Tell them what table you sat at, not what number sandwiches you ordered.
Olive et Gourmando is open Tuesday-Saturday, only for lunch and they don’t take plastic.
[Photo: Dana McMahan]