A Warm Hug

Cozy Up to New Dinner Service at Café Poêtes

The Fourth Ward French eatery is eager to show off.

By Timothy Malcolm November 5, 2019

Duck confit cocotte at Cafe Poetes.

Karine Favre-Massartic says she wanted Café Poêtes to evolve in phases ... but very slowly.

The first phase was pastry shop and cafe, and since opening in early 2018, the Fourth Ward eatery has proven a valued little spot for coffee and French delights like croissants, quiche, and eclairs. The second phase came a few months later in the form of afternoon teas, a way to branch the menu out, taking inspiration from other European nations. 

What's the third phase? Full lunch and dinner service, which began in October and happily tweaks classic French flourishes. 

Take for example the cocotte, a shareable casserole dish (think Dutch oven). Four are on offer on the new Café Poêtes menu, including duck confit in a kobucha and creamy sweet potato puree, along with au jus, and the best of what I sampled, coquillettes au jambon, with shiitake mushrooms adding depth to a dish with pasta, ham, gruyere, and a host of fresh herbs. It's topped with a perfect egg, whose yolk brings just the right amount of richness. Favre-Massartic looks at these two cocottes as two sides of French life: the duck confit a warm, nostalgic countryside hug, and the ham-and-pasta a classic Parisian spin. Both are worth the chillier days ahead.

A favorite cocotte: ham and pasta, plus herbs, a perfect egg, and other goodies.

The dinner menu also includes la planche, a board of treats from gravlax to prosciutto, along with a jalapeño jam and assorted cheese, pickles, fruit, and bread. But the stars of this item are the miniature chicken eclairs that offer a glimpse into the afternoon tea service. Also look for fries, curry-fried brie, and escargots. For dessert, I suggest the profiteroles.

Café Poêtes makes a cute little lunch spot, and with colder weather coming, sharing a cocotte and some wine sounds like a nice, cozy dinner. But lest you think Café Poêtes is only a cold-weather spot: the fourth phase for Favre-Massartic's restaurant? A rooftop, but that's still down the line.

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