Brunch at Backstreet Cafe

We visited an old favorite for brunch this weekend, Backstreet Cafe (1103 South Shepherd). Some hours before the rain hit, we sat outside on the garden oasis of a patio, which is one of the café's biggest draws. We weren't the only ones with this idea. It was packed, and we had to make reservations for 2 p.m. on a Sunday.

Backstreet opened in 1983 as a simple cafe serving burgers and sandwiches to Houstonians. Today, overdressed couples mix with the hipster crowd at this see-and- be-seen spot. One of the customers even kept his sunglasses on inside the restaurant despite the lack of sun outside. Can you say hangover? Regardless of the crowd and our grumpy waiter, Backstreet Cafe's brunch did not disappoint.

We started off our meal with dessert. Well, not exactly, but the Nutella iced coffee was pretty close. This caffeinated deliciousness was creamy and sweet, with a hint of hazelnut. Although it sounds like a milkshake, it was more like Vietnamese iced coffee with hazelnut. We wouldn't mind starting off every morning with one of those.

For our meal, we ordered the crispy lobster sandwich and the special, ham and gruyere crepes. The crepes came with creamed spinach, but we opted for the gratineed truffle potatoes.

The huge chunks of crispy lobster came sandwiched between two pieces of toasted brioche with spicy onion rings, bacon, tomato, arugula, and red pepper remoulade. Any sandwich with multiple fried components has to be good, and it was. Don't forget the napkins.

The crepes were also delicious but definitely second place to the lobster. Salty ham and mild gruyere filled the fork-tender crepes. They were exactly what we expected, but we could have done without the mayonnaise topping.

We were most excited about the truffle potatoes. Unfortunately, they were disappointing. The potatoes were not completely cooked, so they were slightly crunchy, drowned in cream and cheese. Don't get us wrong, we love cream and cheese, but this went a bit too far. And, we couldn't taste any truffles -- the whole reason for ordering this side dish.

A lot of restaurants have a truffle dish or two on the menu. Truffles are a very popular ingredient right now, so those dishes sell pretty well. But more often than not, we find that these "truffle" dishes have minimal, if any, truffle flavor.

Next time we go to Backstreet Café, we will probably just order the Nutella Iced Coffee and the Crispy Lobster Sandwich. Then, it will be back home for a nap.

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Jane Catherine Collins