Have you ever had an omelet so fluffy it feels weightless? Or one so moist and rich in the middle you’d swear it’s filled with molten cheese even though you ordered it plain?
The omelet I had at Délice Breton in San Juan Capistrano was like this and more. It bore no resemblance to any omelet I’ve ever had. In fact, referring to it as an omelet seems as inadequate as calling Notre Dame a church. If there’s a better name, it would be “souffle omelet” or “puff omelet.”
Délice Breton charges $10 for the basic model with no fillings. And you definitely want to eat it this way, at least for the first time, and maybe every time after that. Fillings are unbecoming and almost unnecessary. In Brittany, where this omelet is popular, it’s not abnormal to have it for lunch or dinner, next to a salad.
In fact, this omelet is one of the main attractions of Mont Saint-Michel, an island in Northwestern France that is otherwise known for its gravity-defying monastery. A woman named Anne “Annette” Boutiaut Poulard lived there in the late 1800s and invented the dish. Its success begat the restaurant and hotel called La Mère Poulard, which has been serving the specialty for the past 130 years.
Every French person of note from Monet to Coco Chanel to French Presidents Georges Pompidou, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac ate these omelets. Paul Bocuse once declared, “Mère Poulard is France,” and it’s all because of how Poulard managed to transform the humble egg into something that exists in the ethereal plane.
It’s rumored the secret is the length of time the eggs are whipped in a copper bowl before they’re cooked over an open fire with lots of butter. How long are they whipped? According to David Lebovitz, who timed it while he surreptitiously watched one of the chefs there make it: five minutes. It takes that long to create the millions of microbubbles that leaven the final product like, well, a souffle.
When I encountered the cloudlike structure of the omelet at Délice Breton, I realized the same amount of effort was taken. I also noticed that unlike an all-yellow Parisian omelet, it possessed a browned outer crust. The reason? It’s not flipped until just before it goes on the plate. Also, it’s huge—a girthy crescent that could double as a travel pillow. And I can’t overstate how fluffy it was. As I cut in, the fork passed through it as though it were shampoo foam. It was not just light and airy, but also creamy, especially in the middle, where it takes on the texture of cheese fondue.
Not surprisingly, the people behind this new bistro—which is wedged among a bunch of health-care offices in the middle of nowhere—came from the same region as the omelets they cook. And because they’re from there, Charlotte Le Villain, her nephew Jean-Michel Ochsenbein and Master Crepe Maker Audrey Marquier are meticulous in re-creating the food as though they never left.
The galettes are excellent, an edible lace doily that tastes of the buckwheat from which they’re made. The best way to have one is to have it cocoon a vegan Breton sausage with stinky, stretchy cheese and onion confit. Eating it will give the impression that it’s the analog to a New York hot dog, even if the sausage is made from Beyond Meat.
If it’s cheese you want, there’s a quiche packed with Swiss, Shropshire Blue, Tomme de Savoie and Mimolette. And since the quiche is nearly all fromage and very little egg, it’s super-dense and super-rich. Eat a slice for breakfast, and you’ll need nothing else the rest of the day.
For dessert, Marquier makes what’s possibly the best crepes in the county. Never have I had one that was more delicate yet also wonderfully eggy and buttery. And in her banana-and-chocolate version, she shows how an OG master does it. Instead of just slicing the banana, Marquier mashes it into a paste that’s spread underneath the crepe so that every bite has equal portions of pancake, fruit and chocolate sauce.
I do have to warn you: Once you’ve had this crepe, you’ll never again settle for lesser ones with lazily cut bananas and carelessly slathered Nutella. Unfortunately, it will also be the same for any omelets you have after you’ve had the ones here—unless, that is, you’re planning a trip to Mont Saint-Michel.
Délice Breton, 31451 Rancho Viejo Rd., Ste. 103, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 503-1577; www.delicebreton.com. Open Tues.-Sat., 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Dishes, $6-$14. No alcohol.
Before becoming an award-winning restaurant critic for OC Weekly in 2007, Edwin Goei went by the alias “elmomonster” on his blog Monster Munching, in which he once wrote a whole review in haiku.