Saint Germain

Pardon our French, but we enjoyed the croque monsieur and salade niçoise at this Parisian-esque cafe in Madison Valley.

Pretending to be in Paris on your lunch hour will make going back to work that much harder. But, at Madison Park's new Saint Germain Bistro & Wine Bar the pleasure is worth the pain. This jaunty blue-and-whie space serves up sandwiches (including tartines, the open-faced variety), salads, and soup for lunch and has a slightly more extensive dinner menu. It doesn't take reservations, and the space is petit, so have a back-up plan if you go. We chose a corner table for lunch, and settled into a blue banquette across from a black-and-white photo of a Boulevard Saint Germain sign. (The famous street boasts some of the most talked-about cafes in Paris.) We had to try the croque monsieur ($6.50), a classic sandwich made with ham and Gruyère cheese. This one was definitely up to snuff tastewise, though it should have been cut in half and it leaked a little fluid at times. The zesty salade Nicoise ($9) came with a deck-of-cards sized hunk of seared tuna, skinny green beans, olives, tomato hunks, and slightly bitter lavender vinaigrette. For dessert, go for the chocolate mousse cake ($6) and an espresso drink. The tri-color, circular cake is soft, cool, and creamy, just right for soothing jangled nerves. Be sure to sip that latte slowly—the office can wait. MOLLY LORI 2811A E. Madison St., 206-323-9800, www.saintgermainseattle.com. MADISON PARK

 
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