Comeback Café

Patrons are reunited with Délice, and it feels so good

Imagine an old friend had plastic surgery and moved to a new neighborhood. She would still be the same person, but things would be different. Would your friendship survive? That’s the question for fans of Délice European Bakery and Café. The new Délice in Midtown Crossing feels different in this incarnation, but the food has mostly been preserved. I first visited Délice for a Thursday afternoon lunch with my mother. We ordered at the counter from the Savories portion of the menu, which emphasizes comfort food and cream sauces. Most items are displayed, so you can examine your options before ordering. Mom had Turkey & Sweet Potato Pie ($6.95), featuring turkey, onions and sweet potatoes with Monterey Jack cheese in a mixture of cream and eggs. She liked the moist turkey and flaky crust, but was hoping for pureed potatoes instead of the sliced variety offered here. She had a cup of Split Pea Soup (2.95), which contained plentiful potatoes and a full bodied taste. The soup menu offers 23 varieties, with three or four available daily. I ordered the Stuffed Croissant ($6.95). You can get it with mushrooms, spinach and provolone, but I tried the turkey and cheddar cheese version. The turkey was a bit overdone, but a mix of melted cheese and bread is always enjoyable. Other Savories for $6.95 include chicken and rice casserole, macaroni and cheese, and ricotta pie. There are 12 sandwiches, for $3.25 for a half and $6.50 for full size. Two days later, I returned on a Saturday morning with my wife and two sons. This time, we focused on drinks and the pastries that made Délice locally famous. My wife’s Raspberry Cream Cheese Croissant ($2.50) was a flakey and buttery triangle of dough with powdered sugar. It was light, sweet, and tasty. My Pumpkin Scone ($2.50) was more like cake, covered in a powdered sugar glaze frosting. My older son chose a slice of Lemon Poppy Seed Cake ($4.75), with layers of lemon butter cream, lemon curd and frosting. It was way too lemony for me, but he liked it. My younger son ordered an enormous Cinnamon Roll ($4.75). It was gooey and buttery, with lots of frosting, and perfect for a sweets-loving kid. Délice offers one of the deepest bakery menus in town, with over 50 tortes, tarts and cakes. They are $4.75 per slice or $48 for a 9-inch whole. Owner John Tollinger said in a later phone interview that eight of these are available daily; all are available if you order ahead. Many of these desserts are hard to find in our area. If you’ve been seeking Marjolaine (hazelnut meringue, chocolate ganache and hazelnut mousse or Gateau Neige (sponge cake layered with whipped cream and white chocolate), get yourself there right away. Lunch for two was about $27. Our subsequent four-person snack cost about $20. Délice was a longtime favorite on Howard Street in the Old Market until it closed in 2009. Real estate investor John and his wife Karen Tollinger bought it from Pat McDermott and re-opened in Midtown Crossing in September. “My wife had been a nurse, but she dreamed of owning a bakery,” Tollinger says. “We were thrilled at the chance to buy Délice.” This is the Tollingers’ first experience in the restaurant business, but they received coaching from McDermott. They retained 16 former employees, including pastry chef Heidi Schlicht. Délice’s most significant change is the look and atmosphere. The Old Market location felt like a bakery and coffee shop, with a slightly eccentric atmosphere. Délice on Farnam Street seems more like a lunch restaurant, with an autumnal orange-and-brown color scheme and a passing similarity to the “fast casual” eateries that have opened in recent years. However, Tollinger said the menu is “nearly identical” from Délice’s Old Market days, and I found that the taste of things hasn’t much similar. If you liked it before, chances are good that you’ll like it again. Friends change, but their essential nature does not. Delice European Bakery & Café, 3210 Farnam St., is open Mon.-Thurs. 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 7 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sun. 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 505.9500 or visit deliceeuropeanbakery.com

posted at 11:03 am
on Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

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