Life in SOMA rocks -- until the munchies come along and an existential crisis ensues. Leave the Sartre at home, but bring the French influence to L'acajou. This hip-but-cozy bakery/café is our go-to Gaul for breakfast; where else do home-baked chocolate-orange croissants ($2.50) or cinnamon morning buns ($2.75) live in these parts? Breakfast lovers can make it jour pour nuit with a fluffy quiche du jour ($18.00, six hefty slices). But breakfast isn't our favorite reason to go.
The brainchild of St. Louis-born, CCA-trained Matthew Roder, L'Acajou is a Mediterranean marvel of sorts. Lamb's the thing here: there's no pomposity in "The Famous Pulled Moroccan Lamb Sandwich" ($10). Piled onto his own Swiss-Italian sandwich rolls, Matthew's braised lamb shoulder is kissed with a spicy cabbage slaw and touch of harissa for a French/Arab amalgam worth crossing Market for. No go with meat? The L'Acajou vegan salad ($9) marries an arugula and Spanish based with roasted portabella, artichoke, cashew, and seasonal fruit with a fresh lemon-olive oil dressing.
Cookie monsters, rejoice: not only are the salted dark chocolate cookies among the city's best, but the walk-in special of ten (nice-sized) cookies for ten bucks is some kind of deal. So is the happy hour special from 4-6 p.m.: show me another place to get a Stella or Mendocino brew for two bucks and I'll eat my hat -- or better yet, one of Matthew's Southern spicy pork sandwiches ($9), whose roasted sirloin and pasilla marinade. SOMA may not look like the south of France, but l'Acajou sure enough tastes like it.