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By Elena Kadvany

Voyageur du Temps, Los Altos' time-traveling cafe

Uploaded: Mar 20, 2014

A time-traveling cafe has opened in Los Altos.

You heard me right. Voyageur du Temps (time traveler in French) recently opened its doors at 288 1st St., serving up house-made bread, French and Japanese pastries, breakfast dishes, salads, sandwiches and specialty coffee and tea.

Owner Rie Rubin, a Portola Valley resident who's originally from Japan, said the cafe takes people back in time ? both culinarily and physically.

"We are trying to bring back the good old method of cooking and baking that actually eliminates a lot of additional ingredients or additives," Rubin explained. "As a result ? our bread is milder and gentler and actually feels good after you eat it. It makes a big difference."

All the baked goods ? breads, baguettes, croissants, tarts and the like ? are made from scratch in house, much of them behind a clear glass window inside the cafe so patrons can see the baking process for themselves.

Physically, Voyageur du Temps is housed in one of Los Altos' early train stations, built on 1st Street in 1913. The long, horizontal craftsman-style building is still reminiscent of a station ? and a meeting place, Rubin said.

Voyageur du Temps at 288 1st St. in Los Altos. Photo by Michelle Le.

"We made sure to keep that historic aesthetic that creates a common space where people can gather and meet their neighbors, get drinks and great food," she said.

The 3,000-square-foot space has indoor and outdoor seating, enough to accommodate more than 100 people.

To run the kitchen, Rubin brought in two chefs from Tokyo, Nobu Hoyo and Hinobu Toyama, both of whom studied in Paris and were taught by French chefs.

They're baking a range of sweet treats ? danishes, fruit tarts, croissants of all kinds, something called a caramel cube, bread pudding, Japanese pastries and more ? as well as savory. And they're taking it seriously. Rubin said the staff spent three months perfecting their croissant recipe, and she actually asked job applicants to bring a baguette and croissant to interviews.

More involved breakfast dishes like French toast, acai bowls, scrambled eggs and toasted baguette are served until about 11 a.m.

Salads and sandwiches are served all day; most hover in the $9 to $11 range.

And what would a cafe be without coffee? Voyageur's comes from Cafee Vita, a Seattle coffee company that sources beans directly from coffee growers in more than 11 countries, according to its website.

"(The coffee) is great by itself, but we are a cafe serving pastries and baked goods so it was very important to find something full body and gentle so it pairs really well," Rubin said.

The cafe also serves tea from Bellocq, a high-end "tea atelier" based in New York (originally from London).

Rubin is a fomer Los Altos resident who left her longtime job at a tech company to raise her children.

"But I always had a desire to open a coffee shop someday," she said.

Voyageur is open Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It's closed Mondays.

Voyageur du Temps
288 1ST St., Los Altos; 650-383-5800