L’Appat Patisserie & Cafe (Facebook)
1159 Oak St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43205
Open Mon-Fri, 7a-7p; Sat, 8a-5p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
“Welcome! You’re in Didi’s house now. I’m about to make you very happy.” That was our greeting from Didier Alapani – Didi – when we stepped in the door of L’Appat Patisserie. Didi’s welcome into his little cafe, for first-time customers like us, set the tone for our entire meal.
L’Appat Patisserie is a small corner cafe located in Olde Towne East, a couple blocks east of the more developed corner that Yellow Brick Pizza, The Tavern, and The Angry Baker call home.
Out of this elegant little cafe, Didi and his family produce beautiful, flavorful, and welcoming food with African and French influences. My family and I visited for a mid-day breakfast on a Saturday. There were only a few other customers, most of them picking up pastries to go. I’d say the cafe was quiet, but the conversation flowed continuously as Didi welcomed and hugged regulars.
The thing to understand about the meal is that it takes time. I wouldn’t call the service slow by any means, but it’s not rushed. We observed this as we compared it to the typical American restaurant experience, which is focused on speed. Get in, get seated, get served, and out you go. Not so here. Here you want to experience the meal as a community. Talk about what you’re trying. Sample different things. Didi and his family seemed eager to show off their creations. After we placed our orders for breakfast, we were brought samples of tea and lemonade made in0house. The lemonade was flavored with watermelon and the tea with mango. Both were sweet and refreshing.
To keep our boys’ ravenous appetites at bay (I seriously don’t know how we’ll afford to feed them when they’re teenagers), we ordered cookies. They were warm and fresh out of the oven, and like the drinks, they were flavored with fruit: mango and strawberry.
Mrs. Bfast w/Nick and I ordered coffee. Again, instead of cheap diner mugs or styrofoam to-go cups, the service was focused on sipping and enjoying. We were each brought individual pots of coffee and matching white mugs, plus a couple creamers, no sugar.
In case the word ‘patisserie’ didn’t give it away, L’Appat serves a lot of pastries. Like any bakery, a big part of their business revolves around the tarts, cookies, quiches, and cakes lining the shelves. We sampled one – okay, we started with one – of their mini quiches, a rich tomato and bleu cheese. It was packed with flavor while being flaky and holding together nicely.
All throughout the meal, Didi checked in with us. How was this? Did we like that? Have you tried these? He and his family kept busy in the back, but the cafe is small enough that they can interact with you easily.
The main breakfast menu is small. Its current iteration includes three items: a breakfast sandwich, beignets, and a spinach potato dish. So we ordered the entire menu. We let our boys split the egg and cheese panini, a dense sandwich with scrambled egg and cheese, grilled to picture-perfection.
Next our family split the beignets. The plate is piled generously with them, a smaller and denser version than ones I’ve had before. They’re served with sides of whipped cream cheese and a blueberry coulis, and between the four of us we polished them off quickly. They were sweet but not greasy, crispy on the outside, and simply amazing when dipped in the cream cheese and fruit. I can’t claim to have had that many beignets in my life, but these are easily some of the best.
And then the Mrs. and I split the spinach potato platter. Oh, colorful breakfasts – how I don’t see enough of thee. This dish, along with the beignets, will show up as one of the highlights of Breakfast 2013. The main feature of the dish is the pile of potatoes, onions, corn, zucchini, asparagus, peppers, spinach, and loads of spices and herbs. Our server asked us our preferred heat level and we went for medium. I’m so glad we did; there just aren’t enough breakfasts that really leave my mouth tingling with spice. Everything was cooked and balanced perfectly. I just wanted to keep eating it.
Aside from the potato mixture, there are two sausage links, buttered toast, and a beautiful circle of soft scrambled eggs. We scooped bites of the potatoes, cut some eggs, and layered them on the toast. Just wonderful. The Mrs. and I rightfully fended off the boys from this dish. It was all ours.
At the end of such a flavorful meal, our server convinced us to try one last special pastry, the pandan chausson. Pandan, she explained, is used in a lot of southeast Asian cooking. Chausson means “slipper,” and refers to the above-shaped flaky pastry.
Pandan’s flavor is difficult to describe, but it’s lightly sweet and a little coconut-y. Its soft texture is an ideal filling for a layered and crispy pastry like the chausson. It was a fitting end to a rich meal, a little sweet dessert to mellow out the heavier spicing of the potato spinach platter.
Didi promised he would make us happy, and he did. It’s hard not to fall in love with the experience of eating at L’Appat. The intimate setting just emphasizes the community of the meal, the pacing encourages you to savor the food and the company, and Didi’s smiling face makes you feel like you’ve just discovered a new home.
And clearly breakfast in only one small piece of the picture at L’Appat! They offer a full range of tarts, cakes, and cookies, and Didi hosts different international nights. Currently there’s Caribbean night every Tuesday, and Pan-African night on Thursdays. (Keep an eye on Facebook to see what’s coming next.)