While growing up in Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria, Fred Lami rarely took advantage of the countless bakeries and cafes. It wasn't until he moved to Malibu to attend Pepperdine University in 1975--during the Dark Age of coffee, before there were as many Starbucks as 7-Elevens--that he realized how much he missed the strong espressos and delicious pastries of Europe.
So a few years after graduation, Lami took matters into his own coffee cup by opening Saint Honore, named after the patron saint of pastry bakers, in Malibu. In 1985, he opened a second bakery/cafe of the same name, this one in Palos Verdes Estates.
The new location, complete with outdoor seating at umbrella-topped tables, is in the picturesque community of Lunada Bay, where the waitresses seem to know many of the customers by name. Here Saint Honore has expanded its pastry and coffee menu to include a selection of sandwiches, salads and omelets.
The breakfast menu lists, in addition to a variety of muffins, scones and croissants, seven omelets. They include the Greek ($5.75), with feta, eggplant, black olives and tomatoes; the Italian ($4.85), with prosciutto, mozzarella, green olives and tomatoes; and the Scandinavian ($4.85), with sour cream and lingonberries.
At lunch, the tasty baked chicken breast sandwich comes with roasted red bell peppers, radicchio and mustard on rosemary-and-thyme-topped focaccia ($6.50). The smoked Scottish or Norwegian salmon is served in a baguette with capers, a smear of cream cheese and lemon ($8.50).
Still, the most popular orders are the two reasons Fred Lami opened Saint Honore in the first place: the buttery pastries and strong cappuccinos and espressos that evoke memories of Europe.
Saint Honore is at 2201 Palos Verdes Drive West, Palos Verdes Estates. (310) 544-3100. Open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.