(originally published May 14, 2009)
HOUSTON – Houston’s favorite sweet spot, Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe, is moving its flagship store from its current backstreet location to a front-and-center space at 3600 Kirby Drive at Richmond Avenue. The suite number, appropriately, is D, for dessert.
The new location opens Tuesday, May 26.
Dessert Diva Sara Brook opened Dessert Gallery in 1995 as a tribute to her passion for homemade desserts. The imaginative dessert emporium, with three locations, features a phenomenal array of cakes, pies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, and cookies, all presented in sleek settings where video monitors reveal yummy secrets from the Dessert Gallery kitchen.
“The newest Dessert Gallery will serve the same great food and desserts as always, plus new offerings that I know our customers will love,” says Brook. “Customers will be happy to know that our new flagship store is easy to find, and there is ample parking for our fancy-but-fun new purple cafe.”
The cafe’s interiors, created by Kathy Heard of OPEN Restaurant Design, are as luscious as the desserts. Colorful and bright, there is seating for 50 indoors with additional patio seating. Two artists who worked on the original space are coming out of retirement to be a part of the design: metal artist Cathy Boswell refurbished the original barstools and making additional ones, and painter/faux finisher Theo Ostler is creating beautiful wall designs. The signature purple is complemented by gold powder-coated railings and barstools, and the large checkerboard floor and curvy pendent light fixtures are classic Dorothy Draper, influential interior designer of the mid-20th century.
Debuting at the Kirby store, and to be added at the other locations in the near future, are several new menu items. On the sweet side of the menu, look for a selection of filled cupcakes – Triple Chocolate, milk chocolate cake with white chocolate filling and dark chocolate ganache; Lemon Cream, lemon cake with lemon filling and lemon buttercream frosting; Raspberry White Chocolate, yellow cake with white chocolate cream filling and raspberry buttercream icing; Coconut y Cajeta, coconut cake with Mexican caramel filling, vanilla frosting and toasted coconut. Brownies get a category all their own with the addition of four new flavors including Cream Cheese Brownies, Chocolate Decadence Bars, and the Not-Quite-Baked Walnut Brownie (of Brownie Batter Blow-Out fame, Dessert Gallery’s brownie sundae which is not to be missed!). Tres Leches cake makes its official debut, as does a line of custom-decorated cakes and cupcakes, Mousse Shots and Icing Shots.
And cookie connoisseurs, rejoice! Hot, fresh-from-the-oven cookies will be available for the first time in Dessert Gallery history. Fresh-baked throughout the day are Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate- Macadamia Nut, Chocolate Chocolate Chunk with walnuts, and Honey Nut & Raisin cookies. Follow Dessert Gallery on Facebook and Twitter for updates when the cookies are fresh and hot! As if that weren’t fantastic enough, Dessert Gallery will now deliver warm cookies and cold milk right to your doorstep. “There is just something magical about warm cookies and ice cold milk,” says Brook. “If only we could package the smell of baking cookies and distribute it to the four corners of the Earth, I just know that the world would be a better and happier place. I like to think we are doing our small part to help,” she smiles.
On the savory menu, Brook has added an “of-the-day” rotation of soups, quiches and casseroles, and a build-your-own section that allows diners to customize sandwiches, salads and wraps. A new Market Menu features a daily special inspired by seasonal, fresh-picked items found at local farmers markets, and which could include everything from soup to fruit tarts.
“Everything on our menu is made fresh and with the best ingredients possible,” says Brook. “Guests can enjoy our menu in one of our cafes, packed up to-go, or delivered right to their home or office. We can even ship your favorite cakes and cookies to friends and family across the country.”
Dessert Gallery knows how to have fun with its food, and was the first in Houston to offer completely customized cookies starting with its Way-Out Cut-Out Cookies with airbrush designs, and then with Gourmet GraphicsTM, which allowed customers’ photos or logos to be “printed” onto iced cookies. Brook’s newest offering is Cookie CanvasTM, a process that allows customers to create a design on their own on-line Cookie CanvasTM and which can then be printed on Dessert Gallery’s divine shortbread cookies (minimum 2 dozen cookies and 3 days’ notice required).
Alongside Dessert Gallery’s own works of art, unique gift items from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s Children’s Art Project will now be offered for sale. These pieces – note cards, holiday cards, coffee mugs, etc. – feature original artwork created by pediatric patients from the Children’s Cancer Hospital at M.D. Anderson. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of these products fund programs like summer camps, college scholarships, ski trips, in-hospital classrooms, child life workers and other activities for young cancer patients. Dessert Gallery encourages customers to purchase a piece from the Children’s Art Project along with a selection of sweets which can be packaged together to make a one-of-a-kind gift for friends and business associates.
While there are many new menu items, one thing remains constant: numerous employees, many hired through the YMCA refugee settlement program, have been with Brook for five, 10 and even 15-plus years. Her kitchen manager, Danny Jackson, has worked with Brook for 23 years this summer!