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La Baguette — bringing French technique to the local scene

By Dave Cathey Modified: July 12, 2010 at 2:55 pm •  Published: March 25, 2010

As the sulphur clears from the Oklahoma air and tidings of independence continue to run through our veins, let us look forth to the next major remembrance of historic national revolt: Bastille Day.

While a treatise about cake might be more clever, I'm instead going to take this opportunity to examine the croque monsieur, our Sandwich of the Month.

When it comes to food, you don't argue with the French. Right or wrong, they are to food what the U.S. is to basketball.

Croque monsieur is a standard bistro item throughout France. To find this prototypical fast-food item in Oklahoma, I asked around. Chef Kurt Fleischfresser responded without hesitation.

"You have to go to La Baguette. They make a better croque monsieur than they do in France," he said.

Chef Alain Buthion and his brother, Michel, have been among Oklahoma's chief liaisons to French cuisine for more than a decade. With La Baguette Bistro, 7408 N May, and now La Baguette Restaurant, NW 6 and Dewey, the Buthions have brought all elements of French technique to the local restaurant scene.

The brothers originally worked for and eventually partnered with Johnny Jazzar in Norman. Jazzar still owns the two La Baguette locations in Norman, and his industrial bakery supplies restaurants, grocers and delis across the city with dough as well as baked goods.

The Buthions took ownership of the N May location about 10 years ago and recently converted their Soleil Restaurant inside the Colcord Hotel into another La Baguette.

Alain Buthion said the croque dates to the early 20th century when street vendors sought to satisfy the appetite of workers with something simple and affordable. The name means something along the lines of Mister Crunch, absolutely no relation to the Cap'n.

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