Adding to the Houston bakery boom is Red Dessert Dive & Coffee Shop, located at the corner of Studemont and East 11th Street in the Heights. Owner Jessica Lusk decided to expand her at-home cupcake business, Stella Bakes, (Stella was Lusk's grandmother's name), and create Red Dessert Dive (her red-headed feisty grandmother's nickname), which opened softly on Friday, June 20.
Red is decked out in funky, stylish décor -- white diamond-tile walls are complemented by bright, chic light fixtures and chandeliers. Lusk received a master's degree in architecture at the University of Houston; it's evident that layout and design are quite important to her.
The dessert display case is filled with classic American goodies prepared by pastry chef Ashley Leonard,
previously of Hotel ZaZa. During breakfast hours there's a basket filled with chocolate croissants, plain croissants and danishes adjacent to some of the scones. Butterscotch morsels adorn the top of a butterscotch scone. It's sweet, slightly salty and extremely addictive.
There's a salted caramel brownie, Karbach beer, bacon and smoked Gouda bread and oatmeal cardamom cookies. While gazing at the display case, I kept coming back to an item dubbed a "Debusker" -- an M&M cookie baked on top of a chocolate brownie.
It's similar to a "slutty brownie" (three layers of chocolate chip cookie dough, Oreo cookies and brownie batter), except there's no Oreo in between the layers. If you can't decide between a cookie or a brownie, then choose this moist, sugary hybrid dessert. I expect this to be a popular treat among kids, especially because Lusk's seven-year-old cousin came up with the concept. Side note: this was the first item to disappear from the box of sweets I brought to my office.
Along with the cream cheese kolaches, beautiful and perfectly piped chocolate, vanilla and Red Velvet cupcakes, a gorgeous four-layered peanut butter chocolate cake and s'mores blondies, Red also whips together coffee drinks with beans provided by Boomtown Coffee.
Don't be surprised if you leave Red with a box filled with goodies even though you had full intentions to just order a cup of coffee.