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Food and Drink

Review: The French Pear

By Teresa Gubbins |
photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

Nestled in a storefront on Rockwall’s quaint town square, the French Pear didn’t start out an ambitious place. Its aims were modest: serve up some coffee, tea, maybe snacks, to the folks shopping at the antiques store of the same name, where it hid in a nook. But like prosperous Rockwall itself, the cafe kept expanding—coffee, then lunch, then breakfast, too—until it had practically taken over the antiques store.

When the tenant next door moved out at the end of 2004, French Pear owner Kim Hoegger grabbed the space and relocated the cafe. She furnished it with a homey mish-mash of vintage appointments: brown velvet curtains, mismatched chairs, credenzas, a hutch to divide the room, an antique trunk on which to display the desserts. She also handed off the cooking to chef Dagmar Carruth, who’d been at the Renaissance Garden Cafe, another cafe in an antiques store on Lovers Lane. Carruth knew first-hand the kind of pinkie-in-the-air food needed: salads, sandwiches, croissants, and quiche.

Prices run a little high, but everything has a clean, fresh wholesomeness; no wonder there’s a demand. They take tearoom classics such as chicken salad and give them a spin. A salad with mesclun greens, for example, came topped with thinly sliced pears, random bits of blue cheese, and a handful of pecans in a spicy-hot coating. Actually, those pecans were so spicy-hot, they upset the balance of the salad. But too much personality in a salad is preferable to not enough.

Sandwiches came on good, rustic breads and were stacked high to give the appearance of plenty. A club sandwich with turkey, ham, and cheese had to be taken apart in order to eat. A vegetarian sandwich had lots of stuff, though in tiny amounts—tomato, onion, cucumber, spinach, mushroom, and cheese. This was a vegetarian sandwich as assembled by a carnivore. Bread pudding, baked in shape of a muffin, came warm, its chocolate chips oozing down into the accompanying pool of vanilla-scented cream.

French Pear serves a menu of cappuccinos and lattés. But born in a Starbucks world, they haven’t let go of the novice mindset in which all coffee drinks automatically come dosed with flavored syrups. “So you want—just coffee and milk?” asked the young server, squinting. But then she brought it, and what a nice head of foam it had. 106 S. Goliad St., Rockwall. 972-772-2995. $$. BYOB

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