Top 5 Coffee Shop Etiquette Tips

The age of laptop hobos.

Joanna O'Leary

Fall was the last time I visited Lucille's, where I enjoyed some terrific oyster sliders and a warm plate of shrimp and grits. In the months that followed, Houston grew much colder, then warmer, then, oddly, a bit cooler, then searingly hot. Lucille's likewise has experienced its own ups and downs, not so much in terms of temperature but in regard to public reception. After its much anticipated opening, the restaurant received early accolades for its upscale Southern food, but criticism regarding slow service and inconsistent preparation grew. "What's the deal?" Katharine Shilcutt asked Lucille's a few weeks before Christmas, noting among other sins its lackluster chili biscuits and "wooden chairs that look rescued from a restaurant which closed in 1998."

I didn't much notice the chairs during my most recent visit one a weekend night in mid-July, but I did take note of some other things, beginning with a Sidecar cocktail served in the unconventional "on the rocks" fashion. I wrinkled my nose; I usually prefer (or am used to) my Sidecars straight up. But Lucille's was onto something with the inclusion of a few large ice cubes, which did little to mar the perfect balance of liquors and ensured that each sip was equally frosty.

Vegan red velvet cupcakes are one of the newest additions to Crave's cupcake flavor lineup.
Molly Dunn
Vegan red velvet cupcakes are one of the newest additions to Crave's cupcake flavor lineup.
Frankel has created a food and drink empire.
Frankel has created a food and drink empire.

My friends and I did start with a few orders of the biscuits, which were warm, flaky and imbued with sweet, spicy chili. They were very good, though I'll admit I enjoyed even more the skillet of sweet cornbread, whose almost cake-like texture received additional moisture from an errant pat of butter. I briefly considered ordering an additional pan to take home for dessert and replacing the butter with a scoop of maple walnut ice cream. But that thought was the type of overly ambitious musing that occurs early in the meal when you've had one cocktail and you're just starting your journey to satiation. When I ordered the Backyard Tomato Salad, I offered to share it with my companions. When it arrived, I wanted to rescind that proposal. The colorful collection of small to medium-size cherry red, scarlet, rose and green tomatoes was dressed in light herbal vinaigrette made pleasantly richer by the interspersed bits of bacon and blue cheese. I did claim for myself one of the crostini, which proved surprisingly useful in scooping up the more slippery tomato halves.

The arrival of our entrées meant that unfortunately I had to stop picking at the salad, but I wasn't sad for too long once I started extracting every last bit of battered juicy meat from the monstrous chicken pieces placed in front of me. Lucille's doesn't serve the best fried chicken I've ever had (that honor goes to a Korean place in DC), but it definitely deserves to be placed on the list of go-to spots for fried fowl in Houston for its wonderfully textured, crisp coating that just verges on greasy (and I don't mean that in the pejorative sense). A side of collard greens was soft and well-seasoned, and the hoppin' john was nothing but plump black-eyed peas and moist white rice. Earthy, simple and sure, I think, to bring you luck if consumed on the first of the year.

Despite being significantly distracted by very good food and conversation, we did notice our server's relative slowness in refilling drinks and taking our dinner orders. The restaurant was crowded and he was understandably harried; I think whatever gaps in service we experienced can easily be remedied by tweaking the staffing on busier nights. And while the cocktail list is creative and comprehensive, the beer selection, as my husband pointed out, is confined to a few bottled varieties. Just adding one or two options on tap would secure the affections of a wider range of drinkers.

If you've been deliberating whether you should try Lucille's for the first time, the answer is an easy "yes" lest you miss out on some very solid and occasionally artful Southern food. If you're wondering, however, whether you should go back to Lucille's, the answer is not just "yes" but "yes, soon." Summer will not last forever, and while I'm sure the cornbread, tomato salad and fried chicken will be prepared equally well in the cooler season, I think they taste just about perfect right now.

On the Menu

Crave's Gone Healthy
Gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free cupcakes.

Molly Dunn

If there's any dessert in the world that can bring a smile to someone's face, it's a cupcake.

Unfortunately, a lot of people can't eat certain sweet treats for various reasons, whether they're watching their sugar intake, are on a vegan diet or are gluten-intolerant.

Crave has added several cupcakes using alternative ingredients. We got to try some of their new cupcake flavors last week. These ­alternate versions are available at no extra charge every day of the week at both Houston ­locations.

Of the three healthier cupcakes, the gluten-free was the fan favorite. Crave has created a dark chocolate gluten-free cake with a dark chocolate buttercream frosting topped with chocolate sprinkles and one with a vanilla bean frosting with chocolate sprinkles. Both these flavors are also available as Crave Minis.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help

Great reminders, since so many of us use coffee shops for client or business meeting. As a business etiquette & image consultant, we caution people that their personal brand is always on display even at coffee shops (don't be seen as a 'laptop hobo').

Thanks Kaitlin. I'm going to pass your tips on thru twitter and our blog