Wednesday, January 13, 2010

La Boîte - a Container of Deliciousness

The recent proliferation of mobile and mobile-ish food purveyors around town has sparked a lot of discussion amongst Austinites about whether trailer dining is just a passing fad or an ingenious (and lasting) way for worthy restauranteurs to launch eateries in a relatively inexpensive manner. A few of my early outings suggested that perhaps some folks were capitalizing on the novelty of it all to sell mediocre foodstuffs at a ridiculous markup. However, a few trailers have popped up along the way that restored my faith in the Airstream - notably, Sushi-a-Go-Go (which is on my "to blog about" list) and Crepes Mille, and I've been hearing raves from reliable sources about Odd Duck Farm to Trailer and East Side Kings.

As a result, I'm optimistically open-minded about such things, these days. This morning, that optimism paid off. I had an early errand at the courthouse that was finished quickly, so I thought I'd pick up some treats on the way to the office. I passed by a couple of obvious choices - Sweetish Hill and Whole Foods - racking my brain for something new, when La Boîte popped into my head. La Boîte ("the box" in French) had been garnering some great reviews on Yelp, so I was excited to check it out.

As I pulled up to the place, I was immediately taken by its lovely aesthetic. La Boîte is built from a reused shipping container, but the design geniuses behind this venture have managed to somehow make that look good. It all looks very intentional and well-thought-out; there's even a lovely sitting area outside with a modern-looking canopy surrounded by several strategically-placed planters.


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As with so many things I photograph, it looks better in real life.

I was caffeine-less at that point, so I completely neglected to photograph the interior. Or maybe I was just distracted by the pretty pastries. The selection wasn't huge at 9:15ish a.m., but I managed to snag two kinds of croissants (almond and butter - which one of the co-owners, Dan, assured me were "the best you can get outside of Paris") and two varieties of brioche (sausage and chocolate). Eight pastries set me back less than $20 before gratuity.

Hungry vultures were waiting at my office, so I only managed to photograph and try the almond croissant and the chocolate brioche. Both were absolutely outstanding.

I tasted the almond croissant first. At first bite, I had one of those moments of being transported to another plane by sheer virtue of the deliciousness exploding in my mouth. I literally had to close my eyes to block out other stimulus so I could properly savor it. The exterior was laden with slivered almonds and had the crispy texture of pastry that is coated with just a hint of carmelized sugar...the interior was buttery-moist and fragrant with the scent of almond extract. Pure heaven. I had every intention of just tasting a small bite, but I kept going back in the kitchen to cut off additional chunks.

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Go ahead. Lean over to your screen and take a whiff of this beauty.

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Watch that powdered sugar, though.

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Many-layered goodness.

I had purchased three of the almond croissants, so I was sorely tempted to keep cutting off bites of those and pass on the chocolate brioche altogether. It couldn't possibly be as good. But, ONLY because I am a good blogger and wanted to report on my findings, I took a bite.

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And whoa. I don't know what kind of chocolate they put in these, but it is fantastic - very intense and totally deserving of eating plain, which I don't say lightly. Chocolate is a very serious matter.

La Boîte also offers a small selection of sandwiches at lunch, which I need to go back and try as soon as humanly possible (there is a photo of one along with a terrific writeup of La Boîte by Natanya of Fête and Feast here. And to satisfy your environmentally-conscious side (you are an Austinite, after all!), La Boîte serves primarily local and sustainable products, including Owl Tree Coffee.

Further proof that thinking outside La Boîte can lead to unconventionally wonderful results.

La Boîte Café
1700 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704

7 comments:

  1. I'm going to have to check it out. The croissant looks amazing!

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  2. Wow, those look amazing! I've been wanting to try that place-the shipping container is genius!

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  3. How was the chocolate? Semi-sweet or sweet? It seemed all the chocolate we had in France - and indeed all the pastries - was very light on the sugar. As in, Americans like things way too sweet perhaps. :-)

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  4. Anole, the chocolate was definitely either semi-sweet or bittersweet. Very dark and not too sweet - just the way I like it. I agree that Americans tend toward super-sweetness, and I prefer a little lighter touch when it comes to sugar, which probably explains part of why I liked these so much!

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  5. My friend's brother designed La Boite. I'm basically obsessed with him. Here's his blog if you're interested. http://www.designstudiomodern.typepad.com/ Between that, this blog post ,and your salted caramel macaron pics. I HAVE to go. The only issue will be getting over there when it's actually open.

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  6. Kathy - WOW! I can see why you'd be obsessed with him. Gorgeous, gorgeous work. I loved all the photos of La Boite from beginning to end. So inspiring!

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  7. I must try every pastry they have. Every one. I haven't been there yet but want to go right now and eat everything. And not just because it's that time of the month!

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