Serving French pastries and coffee, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Maison Richard carries on the legacy of renowned French pastry chef Michel Richard, who moved from his original pastry shop to open Citrus in Los Angeles, followed by Citronelle in Washington, D.C. His pastry shop, then on Robertson Boulevard, passed into the capable creative hands of Richard’s long-time partner and friend, Hugette Coffyn, who relaunched and moved the reborn Maison Richard Restaurant, Café, & French Bakery just off Melrose Avenue in 2010.
The eponymous Michel Richard passed away earlier this year, but Coffyn and restaurant coordinator Thierry Hennequin adhere to his dedication – and deliciousness.
With a menu of mouth-watering pastries, breads, rolls, sandwiches, salads, and main courses, there’s something to appeal to virtually any palette at the bright and airy restaurant/patisserie with its large and lovely open-air patio.
The pastry menu is extensive, ranging from favorites like the Mado, made with hazelnut praline and lush layers of chocolate and vanilla creme, to the sophisticated chocolate mousse cup, topped with rich chocolate shavings. Other popular items from the famous sweet side of the menu include the Strawberry Napoleon puff pastry, a delicate confection created with a soft layer of custard and fresh strawberries; and the petit fours, a revelation where these diminutive pastries are concerned, light and decadent at the same time. Cookies, rolls, croissants, and breads are perfectly turned out, too.
According to Hennequin, “We do everything fresh, baking at 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s three guys working to make the freshest, most authentic pastry. We are the most authentic in Los Angeles,” he attests. “Even in Paris today, you won’t be able to find the quality, organic, non-processed ingredients and these results. It is very hard to get the best results.” He notes that everyone involved in the patisserie and restaurant “understands the philosophy of the place. It goes against the grain of most businesses in the U.S., we make very little profit. We do this because we love it despite the labor costs and the costs of ingredients.”
Regardless of the effort and expense, Maison Richard prides itself on “keeping items accessible and affordable to the general public,” as Hennequin says.
The move from the patisserie’s former location on Robertson and 3rd six years ago brought Coffyn and and Hennequin a whole new clientele. “We were able to have a sense of what Melrose was becoming and we are really happy to have ventured into the neighborhood. We have a very classic place, without being pretentious. It’s very genuine.”
Along with their delightful pastries, Maison Richard serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner. The latter, Hennequin describes as “not a formal dinner,” although the menu belies this with a variety of salads, appetizers, and main courses. Standout salads include the Salade Nicoise made with tuna, potatoes, onions, string beans, tomatoes, olives and anchovies, and the Ceasar Salad crafted with poached egg, bacon and Parmesan cheese. Quiches, pastas, fish, beef, and chicken dishes are also available, with meats and fish dishes accompanied by a diner’s selection of two vegetables and a sauce of their choice. There is a wine, beer, and aperitif list as well.
“We prepare our meals in small quantities to keep everything as fresh as possible. We are creative with our specials, which change every night,” Hennequin relates. A recent special: authentic bouillabaisse, the traditional Provençal fish stew.
“You see this dish in the south of France. You put your soul, your knowledge into creating the dish and you’ll have something very special,” he says.
That statement could describe just about every item on the menu at Maison Richard, where former chef Michel Richard’s story continues to unfold under expert hands.