Rocq Café in Lake Forest—Casual, Fresh, French… All That, and Macarons, Too

Since I highlighted three O.C. macaron makers in last June’s Orange Coast, the French meringue sandwich cookie quietly went from trend to player in the local pastry panoply. And when Williams-Sonoma searched for a macaron that met its high standards, it turned out to be one from Orange County-based French chef, Eddy Rocq. Recently, Martha Stewart’s website began carrying Rocq’s macarons too, with special attention to his charming, heart-shaped version.

Rocq’s career has seen lots besides macarons, though, from stints at Paris hotels to L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills, personal cheffing for entertainment and political luminaries, and his current busy, high-end catering business. The long list now includes owning his own café with wife, Deborah.

Open just two weeks, Rocq Café in Lake Forest offers a lunch menu of fresh, made-in-house fare that is a decided contrast—in the very best way possible—to neighboring chain restaurants. Friday I had the lunch special, mussels in a white wine reduction sauce with French fries ($14.95)—moules frites is one of my favorite dishes ever, and this was so good, and great-looking, with the surprise of a few edible pansy blossoms strewn over. My son tried the tender tri-tip sandwich, sliced medium-thinly on a substantial roll (Rocq makes all the breads, too), with grilled onions and chipotle mayonnaise ($10.95), which included two sides chosen from an arry of vegetable and grain salads. A corn salad—fresh kernels, cut from the cob—had a zippy vinaigrette dressing, and deep-orange grated carrots had a fantastic hit of garlic.

As might be expected from a macaron master, other pastries in the case tempted, too—I saw a few raspberry tarts, and a lemon meringue with beautifully piped and browned topping was a fresh Franco-fied take on the American classic pie. (Tarts, $3.) Savory pastries include individual quiches, classic Lorraine, or vegetarian leek marmalade ($6.95, including two sides). And of course, there are those macarons: available singly ($1.60 each; $1.70 for heart-shaped) and in boxed selections (two dozen, $38; heart-shaped, $48). Flavors change seasonally; check the Rocq Macarons website. Picking them up at the café means no shipping charge.

Did I mention the macarons are all-natural, and um, the BEST EVER? Of course, everyone’s entitled to his or her favorite macaron. But you can’t really decide before trying Rocq’s.

Store hours are 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; breakfast and Sunday brunch service starts on March 11, 8 a.m

Rocq Café, 22722 Lambert St., Lake Forest, 714-488-6258.

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