Les Baux: La Bou's Big Sister


If you’ve ever inhaled one of La Bou’s heavensent croissants, you already know why owner Trong Nguyen is one of Sacramento’s most successful restaurateurs. With the opening of his newest venue, Les Baux Bakery & Cafe, Nguyen is taking things to the next level. Open, airy and full of light, with lovely oak floors and a dazzling pastry case, the elegant East Sac bakery/ bistro could be described as La Bou’s older, more worldly sister. On the menu: the same high-quality breads you’ll find at La Bou, but with the addition of more sophisticated fare. Coffee gets the world-class treatment with a unique cup-at-a-time brewing system. In addition to breakfast and lunch, plans are in place to start including lateafternoon/ evening fare such as oysters, steamed mussels, wine and beer. (It already may be happening by the time you read this.)

“Les Baux is a combination of everything Annie (Ngo, his wife) and I love to do,” says Nguyen. “We love bread, we love coffee, we love oysters, beer and wine, and we love having a fun place for people to come.” Looking as clean and impeccable as the cafe itself in his crisp baby-blue shirt, Nguyen grinned widely as he spoke animatedly about his new venture. Wife Annie sat in for part of the interview.

Nguyen: “I haven’t opened a restaurant in a long time— since Lemon Grass [with then-wife Mai Pham] in 1988. But I thought it was an interesting project because of where it’s situated. It’s an amazing neighborhood, with nice smaller homes and lots of trees. It’s really nice to walk about, and people here are low-key and friendly. It’s a good neighborhood spot—a place for people to come.”

Ngo: “The most popular item, probably, is the Les Baux sandwich. It’s tri-tip, with brie and caramelized onions, on a baguette. The vegetarian sandwich with Gruyère and pear is also popular, and the hot potato leek soup. The croissant pudding, with vanilla beans imported from Uganda, is so good. People love it.”

Nguyen: “It’s a cross between a Melitta and a French press. We’re the only people in the world that have this process. We patented the system. You can design your own cup of coffee—half caffeinated, or half-light and halfdark brew, whatever you want. It’s so fun and so easy, and it’s the besttasting coffee.”

Ngo: “It’s very close to our hearts. I’ve already made so many friends—people I know on a first-name basis. People have been very sweet, bringing in flowers every day. To have a bakery like this is a luxury. Ninety-nine percent of Americans don’t have that privilege.”