Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, June 5, 2003
Café Beignet Asian Fusion
Fresh Vietnamese summer rolls (order of four) $3.50
Grilled pork salad $6.50
Garlic beef sandwich $6.25
Beignets (order of four) $2.50
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Oriental Shuffle

Jazzy vibes, pomo décor, and flavorful food in suburbia’s heart — Café Beignet.

By KEN SHIMAMOTO

Café Beignet Asian Fusion

62 Main St, Ste 100, Colleyville. 817-485-8863. Mon-Thu 7am-10pm, Fri-Sat 7am-12pm, Sun 8am-10pm. All major credit cards accepted.

he name of this place threw me off at first. “Asian fusion?” The phrase conjured up images of some kind of Cali-spawned cuisine characterized by tiny morsels of food lost in the middle of enormous plates, artistically drizzled with some exotic sauce. Or, for the occasional music critic in me, of Asiatic musos who play too many notes.

Finding the place presented the first challenge. I thought I knew the Mid-Cities fairly well, but Main Street in Colleyville didn’t appear on any map I could find online. Undaunted, my guest and I headed up Highway 26, through North Richland Hills and Hurst, to the moneyed suburb of Colleyville.

Turns out the folks up there are building themselves a new town center in the manner of Southlake or Grapevine. From the highway, Main Street looks more like the entrance to a shopping center’s parking lot than a key thoroughfare. But that’s where we found Café Beignet, nestled in the midst of an architecturally diverse collection of what will ultimately include some city buildings as well as restaurants, offices, and apartments.

The café takes its name from a French pastry, popular in Nawlins, hometown of both the Weekly’s Chow, Baby and café owner David Nguyen. The boss man has been in the Metromess for five years now; Café Beignet, which opened in March, is his first venture into the restaurant biz. Most of the restaurant staff are his relatives.

In the morning, they open ungodly early to serve beignets and coffee (no entrées until 11 a.m.) to hungry working stiffs. The beignets are truly a treat. Made from dough that’s rolled flat, cut into squares, and boiled, they’re kind of like a NOLA version of sopapillas. Light and puffy, dusted with powdered sugar, they’ll weigh you down a lot less than, say, the funnel cakes at Main Street Arts Festival. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Nguyen puts an original spin on a diverse mix of Asian (Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese) and European influences. He carefully chooses the right ingredients to make his creations easy on the belt buckle and pleasing to the palate.

Take his grilled pork salad. The pork slices arrived, arranged attractively on the expected massive plate, over rice noodles (vermicelli) and a bed of mixed greens. The meat was crisp and smoky-flavored, nicely complemented by the tangy citrus vinaigrette sauce. But, as my guest pointed out, “Even with these big chunks of meat, everything is really fresh and light.” Versions of the salad with lemon grass chicken and shrimp are also available.

Rice vermicelli and greens are also key ingredients in Nguyen’s Vietnamese summer rolls, which are more ample than others we’ve had locally and combine the flavors of pork and shrimp. The accompanying peanut citrus sauce was unusually full-bodied and sweet. The pan-seared shrimp dumplings were somewhat less substantial, containing only a minuscule portion of shrimp, but the dumplings themselves were crisp, not greasy, and provided a good vehicle for the sweet soy saki coulis.

The décor at Café Beignet is hip and postmodern, with the walls done up industrial style — flat metal and rivets — and the ceiling tile-less, with lots of exposed heating ducts. There are comfy sofas in the back of the restaurant, not the front, for patrons who are waiting for tables — a clever touch. (Get ’em in and let ’em see what others are eating; chances are, the folks waiting may stay.)

The eatery’s offerings are simple — appetizers, salads, sandwiches — but all display a considerable amount of culinary flair and creativity.

A big favorite among the locals, our server informed us, is the garlic beef sandwich. Served on a baguette, it’s exactly what it says — plain and simple. The meat is lean, tender, and flavorful, with thick slices of tomato and potato graufrette — shoestring-thin fries that somehow are still chewy — on the side. It’s enough to make a regular out of even the staunchest non-Asian food enthusiast.

Atypically, my guest and I decided to go for dessert. The white chocolate raspberry cheesecake was, as our server promised, “to die for” — rich and creamy, the delicate sweetness of the chocolate offset by the tartness of the fruit. And the coffee, my caffeine-junkie companion and I agreed, is the darkest and most robust either of us could remember having in an FW eatery — a Martha Stewart good thing. They also offer Italian crème sodas.

There are a half-dozen other items on the menu that I’m eager to try but was unable to for the usual reasons (time, money). I’ll take solace in the fact that Café Beignet’s prices are reasonable enough to allow me to afford the gas I’ll need to make another trek to Colleyville.


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