[wJuly 26th, 2006] Just blocks beyond the construction hell of Northeast Sandy Boulevard, Fleur de Lis straddles the line between unremarkable neighborhood bakery and destination-worthy lunch spot, producing some gustatory goodness in the Hollywood District, a 'hood that, quite frankly, can really use it. If I lived in the neighborhood, I would walk to Fleur de Lis several times a week. But is it worth a bike ride across town? Perhaps not yet.
Local lunchtime popularity is guaranteed by excellent bread (particularly the pain levain), addictive sandwiches (try the moist, melty house-roasted pork loin or a fabulous chicken salad packed with crunchy celery, $6.75 whole) and delicate soups (a piquant carrot-ginger, say, or the Friday clam chowder, $5.50 a bowl). This is not your average deli on the corner. On the other hand, the pastries are sufficiently inconsistent to cause concern. Slightly burnt cookies and dull, tough pain au chocolat sit neatly alongside crusty, tangy rhubarb mazurkas, flaky almond rings and buttery scones ($1.25-$4). Afternoon selections are limited.
Set amid the bright windows of the former Hollywood library, the cafe anoints its sparse, large space with the occasional cringey-country touch (dodgy tablecloths, a lonely vase). It's an awkward attempt, an indication that the space hasn't yet shed a hurried, institutional feel, but it's offset by a shaded patio and loads of room for the customers' plentiful children and babies to play in. Service is sometimes so warm and personal that I expect Ned Flanders to pop out from behind the loaves with an "Okely-dokely, neighbor!" However, that same service tends to be confused and forgetful as well.his may stem less from server error than from an apparent lack of decision about how to present Fleur de Lis. Should a customer feel like he or she is stepping into a bakery, a coffeehouse or a restaurant? How could the queueing and ordering experience best be organized? Why are the menus and the DIY coffee area stuffed behind that lunchtime rush line? How can I get some water? These questions shouldn't be on a customer's mind when she's waiting for a Black Forest ham sandwich. Co-owner and master-baker Greg Mistell was a founder of Pearl Bakery, which is known for amazing pastries; it usually handles crowds and atmosphere very nicely with hardly any room at all. Additional attention to space management, consistency and quality control could improve Mistell's newest project, Fleur de Lis, without sacrificing its neighborhood feel. For now, it's well worth a visit�if you're nearby.