Cookies and Cappuccino at Cafe Rosé

Cafe Rosé (800 W. Sam Houston Parkway) is the less-discussed western outpost of the Houston Brennan's empire, a small, European-style coffee shop tucked away underneath the modern architecture of Bistro Alex at CityCentre. Along with the adjoining Hotel Sorella, Cafe Rosé and Bistro Alex were two of the mixed-use development's first tenants, opening in late 2009. They were the result of Alex Brennan-Martin expanding from the original downtown Brennan's (see this week's cafe review: "Baffled by Brennan's") into an equally wealthy but geographically removed market.

I stopped at Cafe Rosé on a quiet Friday afternoon for a reviving cup of coffee before tackling the busy evening ahead. With high ceilings, airy windows and comfortable, cushy booths lining one wall, it beckoned to me to unwind for a bit. So did the $1 glasses of wine that Cafe Rosé offers during its daily happy hour until 7 p.m. But I didn't need to unwind quite that much...

Instead, I opted for a cup of cappuccino and a bacon-oatmeal cookie. The friendly young man behind the counter said it was one of their most popular items, but that some patrons were confused and a bit disgusted when -- despite the cookie clearly being called a "bacon-oatmeal cookie" -- they bit into it and found actual bits of bacon. I guess it takes all kinds.

Taking a seat at a booth, I waited for the young man to create my cappuccino and pondered the view outside. Every time I'm at CityCentre, I wish they'd create some kind of visual barrier between the lovely Cafe Rosé/Bistro Alex and the loud, unsightly interchange of Beltway 8 and I-10. Even a row of trees or hedges would do the trick. At least being wrapped in the cocoon-like interior of the coffee shop insulates you from the deafening roar of traffic outside; I couldn't bear to sit on Cafe Rosé's patio, however.

My cappuccino was a bit too milky and a bit on the small side, but it was clearly made with pride and was a far sight better than anything that the Starbucks down the street was going to create. And on this side of town, you can't afford to be too picky about your coffee, espresso or cappuccino options. (Although when patisserie/coffee shop Flora & Muse opens later this year at CityCentre, the area will be almost spoiled with cafe options.) The bacon-oatmeal cookie was fluffy and had a hint of spice that played well with the sweetness of brown sugar and saltiness of bacon bits dotted throughout.

If I hadn't had some place to be that evening, I might well have stayed at Cafe Rosé and enjoyed a few of those $1 glasses of wine along with another special treat: turtle soup. That's right. Don't want to get all gussied up for Brennan's or Bistro Alex? Cafe Rosé offers both the venerated turtle soup and the excellent seafood gumbo on its menu for $7.95 a bowl.

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Katharine Shilcutt