October 15, 2010

I'll Have Another - 100 Cups of Coffee continued

This is going to round out my tour of Denton's coffee houses, though I'm sure new ones have sprung up, even as I was making my circuit. If I missed a particular favorite of yours, or you spotted a new one, please let us know. Additionally, I'm happy to report my friend my friend M was available to accompany me on this final tour.
We visited:
Cafe Du Luxe
If you've been reading my tweets, you may have guessed I've recently been diagnosed as gluten intolerant. That's almost as fun as it sounds. On the upside, however, I'm much less tired then I have been; in fact, I feel remarkably better, so I'm inclined to complain much less than I thought I might. On the downside, of course, eating is a bit less casual. In fact, after mentioning that I drink decaf, a friend who knows I have to eat gluten free (GF) told me recently, "You don't eat anything real!" I reminded him that I only eat real food, I just don't eat anything easy. So, I knew going into Cafe du Luxe, I'd have to pass on their sandwiches and pastries (damnit!), but I figured, even though no one had responded to the e-mail I sent a few days previously, that I'd be able to get a salad.
What I didn't expect was that no one at the counter or in the kitchen would know which of their salad dressings was gluten free. I mean, about 1 in 200 (or 1 in 133) people has some sort of gluten sensitivity, and we eat out!

Important lesson there, call ahead.

Anyway, after being pretty casually brushed aside by that day's cook, "We don't make any of our dressings or the black bean soup," I got a cup of decaf and a glass of water; M got a tomato & spinach quiche ("...not crispy, microwaved...") and a caramel, marked vanilla latte (pictured), and we sat down to compare notes. After I whipped out my laptop and started blogging, that same cook came out to tell me that the vinaigrettes and Caesar dressings were gluten free, but the bean soup was not. I hope my laptop didn't have anything to do with his improved customer service, but I wonder. Weirdly enough, a couple days after my visit, someone from the restaurant did answer my original e-mail. The very nice response I got was, in part:
We do not offer a gluten-free bread so we are unable to accommodate you on any of our sandwiches (unless you choose to order the sandwich without bread.) All of our salads can be modified to gluten-free when you request to leave off the croutons and baguette. All of our dressings are gluten-free as well. As for appetizers, our corn tortilla chips contain no gluten so we can offer our guacamole with chips and salsa, hummus with tortilla chips substituted for pita, and our freshly prepared shrimp ceviche. Our black bean soup is gluten-free and as far as our soup of the day any of our cooks would be happy to let you know whether or not it is a gluten-free soup. At this time we do not have any gluten-free desserts, unfortunately.

I am sorry for the limited menu options - the owner and I are working together at this time to expand our menu to accommodate our guests with special needs.

Well this is good news, if too late for my post, and that menu is not as limited as the writer seems to think. I can get by on soup, salad, corn chips and hummus easily. However, it was also a bit confusing, since the cook on duty had told me the soup was NOT GF, and so far, my two requests for clarification have gone unanswered.
So I repeat, call ahead, my GF dears, if you're on your way there.
Have you started thinking, "Enough already! They'll have to pry the pastries and flour tortillas out of my cold, dead hands, how-was-the-coffee"? Well, read on Mcduff.

Where?3101 Unicorn Lake Boulevard
Open 24 hrs?No. Mon - Thurs 5:30a - 10p;
Friday 5:30a - 11p; Sat. 6a - 11p;
Sun. 7a - 9p
What did you drink? What do you think? A small (12 oz.) cup of the decaf
Kinds of cupsMugs for in-house. Paper for to go.
Sugar/honey/raw?Yes/Yes/Yes/Yellow Stuff
Milk/cream/half&half? Yes, and in some really snazzy dispensers
Yeah, yeah, but how does it taste?!Not great. It was weak
What did M get? 12 oz Caramel 'marked' Vanilla latte
Was it good? Good, like dessert, and beautiful.
How much? $2.98
Bring Your Own Cup Discount?"Ahhhh, you'd have to talk to David about that."
Loyalty Card?No
Food or Pastries?Yes
WiFi?Yes - you have to buy something and get a code to use it
Atmosphere?New, mod-ish, generic.
A few upholstered seating areas, bar tables and barstools and small, round cafe tables
Crowd/Scene?Retirees and post-movie theatre crowd. I'll bet they get a ton of 'on the way to work'ers too
Study or Socialize?Socialize
Tea too?Yes. Numi
Sidewalk seating?Yes
Art?Yes. Changes monthly
Live Music?Occasionally
Anything else?Wine! $5 for a glass of the house Concha Y Toro Frontera Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz. Reasonable prices on the featured and specialty wines too

Cafe Du Luxe on Urbanspoon

Art Six
When we walked in and smelled the warm, delicious perfume of their coffee and saw the rich brown walls and stripped floors, I said to M, "I think we've found our spiritual home."
Then I gave her a sip of my decaf Americano, and we knew we'd found our level.

Located in an old house in a residential neighborhood (you know I like that) on Bryan St, Art Six has been serving joe since 2004, and I was so very pleased to see how well they're doing. What else can I say about this place? It was just really comfortable with good coffee; what more do you need? I will mention I loved their bathroom. I know that sounds random, but if you've ever lived in (and redone) an old house, you appreciate other people's work, and seeing groovy old details like you might still have (for instance, a cast iron, in-wall gas heater). See it.

M kept going on about how much she missed this place, and how we should just spend hours here, or re-do our circuit. So, that's another enthusiastic thumbs up.

Where?424 Bryan Street
Open 24 hrs?No. Their posted summer hours were:
M-F 11a -11p;
Sat 11a-12m;
Sun 2p -10p
What did you drink? A small decaf Americano
"It's stronger than the decaf."
Organic?Yes. House coffee and house espresso
Kinds of cupsChina mugs for in. Creepy styrofoam to go
Milk/cream/half&half? Half and Half and that creepy powdered creamer. Come on folks, really?
Price$2.50 for a ‘small’
Yeah, yeah, but how does it taste?!Really good
What M get? The daily staff pick - a vanilla latte frappe!
Was it good? So good I helped her finish it, but I'm a good friend like that
How much? $4.75 for a 20oz.
Bring Your Own Cup Discount?Don't know; don't think so
Loyalty Card?No
Food or Pastries?Bagels, soups, sandwiches, muffins, biscotti, smoothies, milkshakes and both root beer and Dr. Pepper floats
WiFi?Yes - Get the code from the barista
Atmosphere?Converted old house at the corner of Bryan and Scripture, one block from Fry Street.
3 rooms of tables, couches, and barstools.
Hipster Top 20 soundtrack, which, weirdly, cut in and out - like bad radio, and was nowhere near as annoying as it might have been, maybe because of the general awesomeness of the whole place
Crowd/Scene?Oh students all the way
Study or Socialize?I saw lots of both
Tea too?Yes. By the cup, the pot, or iced
Sidewalk seating?Backyard patio, and how nice is that? There's also a small front porch swing
Live Music?No
Anything else?Italian cream sodas and lemonade. You have no reason to go thirsty here

Art Six Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Cups and Crepes
You know I'm a big fan of mixed use and reuse, so there's no way I couldn't stop by Cups and Crepes. Located in a grandish, old pile on Fry St, this interesting venture has been in around since 2007, I believe. And, unlike all the other coffee houses on my tour, they're not concentrating onthe late-night crowd - thery're only open for breakfast and lunch.

So, one warm morning the SO and I ankled over there to get some breakfast and coffee. You know I stick to the plain jane coffee, and so does the SO, but there's a fancy-schmancy, cherry red, coffee machine, front and center when you enter, that looks like Ferrari might have designed it. If I wasn't on a mission, I absolutely would have fallen prey to its charms and ordered whatever it makes, just to see it in action. As it was, I got a cup of decaf, pancakes, bacon, and a scrambled egg. The SO got a cup of regular, scrambled eggs, toast, bacon. (Obviously, this visit was before I had to give up the gluten. And pancakes, ooooh pancakes.)

So let's talk about the coffee, shall we? I briefly tried to think of a synonym for excellent, but gave it up, because excellent perfectly characterizes this coffee. Strong, hot, smooth - even using honey instead of sugar - this was a cup of perfect. I don't know if it's their coffee or their brew method or if we just got lucky, but that's a cup of coffee I still remember. How many cups of Joe do you remember?
The wait for this food was looong. Really long. Grumpy-making long. I have no idea what the hold up was, but the food itself was really good, in that breakfast, comfort-food sort of way. There's no real reason that I can think of for it to have been so good, it wasn't special in any way, but it was good. Really good. I suggest trying it.

I also suggest trying the chocolate banana crepes. Do you know anything about crepes? If you’ve had any previous experience, you know that they can sometimes be... limp and slimy, for want of better descriptors, but these, though incredibly simple, were perfect. Really perfect. And writing about them now, makes me wonder if there's a gluten-free creperie out there anywhere. If you know of one, clue me in, please.

So, this was a kind of mixed or 50/50 proposition, right? Good food, great coffee, long wait. There was one deciding factor for me though, which insures I won't be back anytime soon - the heat. We were sitting in a little corner, near the thermostat, and though it was set on 68°, it registered 78°. That's right - degrees Fahrenheit. Y'all, I can't eat or relax indoors at that temperature.

When I asked the braless waitress (the SO thought that was a plus) if it was always so hot, she replied, "Pretty much." So, I won't be back for food in the spring or summer time, but if that truly excellent coffee calls to me, I'll get it to go.

Where? 309 Fry St.
Open 24 hrs? No. Th-Sun 8a-3p
What did you drink? A mug of decaf
Organic? Yes.
Kinds of cups Mugs for in-house. Paper for to go.
Sugar/honey/raw? Yes/Yes/No/Yellow Stuff
Milk/cream/half&half? Yes/No/Yes
Yeah, yeah, but how does it taste?! This was a noticeably good cup of coffee.
What did the SO get? A cup of regular.
Was it good? Just as good
Bring Your Own Cup Discount? Don't think so.
Loyalty Card? No
Food or Pastries? Yes.
WiFi? Yes.
Atmosphere? The bottom floor of an old house, with some of the original finishes still there.
Crowd/Scene? Totally mixed. Students, locals, local students
Study or Socialize? Study, socialize and eat.
Tea too? Yes.
Sidewalk seating? No. Seating in the front yard instead!
Art? Yes. Looks like school (college) projects
Live Music? No.
Anything else? The crepes! Well really, where else are you gonna get crepes in town? And who doens't like a crepe? If you can eat them, try these.

Cups & Crepes on Urbanspoon

When I thought about the close of this post, I thought back on the places I'd been and the coffees I enjoyed, and I realized I should have some sort of favorites list. So, without further ado, here it is, the coffees in Denton, Texas.
  • Best Coffee - I still have to say, Cups and Crepes. That was a seriously good cup of joe.
  • Best Place - This is really a tough one. I think I have a tie - The Hydrant and Art Six.
    I didn't review it, but you might also look in on the Jupiter House on Carroll Blvd. It's lovely.
  • Best Art - Hands down, Art Six. There were paintings you might actually want to buy on display.


Kyle Kaumeyer said...

I am doing a group project in my tech writing class at unt. We are doing a report on the best coffee house within walking distance of campus (2 miles) and I wanted to know if we could site some of your blog in our report. It would be considered previous research, and would only be mentioned in the introduction.
Thanks for writing what you do. I've gone to a few places based on your reviews and pictures.

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Dentonista said...

Hi Kyle,
I'm so pleased you read my blog, and I'd be honored to be mentioned in your scholarly work!
Doubly honored in that I studied technical writing at UNT. SMALL world.

Liss said...

Art Six does have live music and events from time to time. Something to check in to. :)