One evening last week, for no particular rhyme or reason, I decided to forgo my regular highway route and meandered through the city on my way home. As West Gray diverged in two I took the road less traveled (for me, at least) and as I veered left, I passed a sign for Café Poêtes. Instantly, I began craving brie and butter and baguettes and all the things the keto gods frown upon.
I took note, then later returned to Café Poêtes, arguably the cutest bakery-cum-tea parlor in Houston. Immediately I was greeted by a kind server sporting a French accent that might have been fake but I didn’t much care, so charmed was I by the pink floral accents, display of gilded teapots for sale, and bookshelves stocked with volumes of poetry that stretched to the ceiling.
My growling stomach eventually arrested this period of adoration and as per my wont I ordered way too much food. As if things couldn’t get more adorable, I saw the placard to mark my order read “Edith Piaf” (all, it turns out, are named for famous French figures).
Flanking the main dining area was a space obviously designed for younger patrons, with miniature seats and a table set low to the ground. Because I am sometimes mistaken for a small child and the café was nearly empty, I had no compunction trying out one of the shrunken armchairs. It was just right!
My repast arrived tout de suite. First, a tartine stacked with buttery, fluffy scrambled eggs dressed with lollipop-red jalapeño jam atop a bed of toast. Avocados be damned, I’ll take my toast with oeufs any day of the week. This and other breakfast specials (served until 3 p.m.) come with your choice of fruit, pommes dauphines (potato puffs), or gougeres (French for “delicious flaky cheese puffs”). Obviously, I suggest the latter.
Although I my game plan was to sample one of the cafe’s savory eclairs, I found the description of the seasonal harvest quiche sufficiently alluring that I double-downed and requested a slice. Wedge, however, is a better descriptor for the generous portion of warm pastry pie thick with chunks of butternut squash, sautéed kale, and tangy gorgonzola, and dotted with toasted pumpkin seeds. Its subtle autumnal spices and headier vegetable and dairy notes were as warm and comforting as a freshly lit fire on a crisp January evening.
Next time I dine at Café Poêtes, I’m bringing at least three friends so I can sample much more of the menu, including the salmon and artichoke eclairs, chocolate croissants, and a whole pot of the “coconut frenzy” tea.
So, non, je ne regrette rien after my experience at Café Poêtes. Except maybe not ordering more food.