Above: The Tofu Edamame Salad Shakez is a healthful and satisfying choice. – Photograph by Julie Bidwell
There are those random moments when one stumbles upon a spot that is destined to become a necessary indulgence. Call it serendipity. Call it karma. Whatever leads you there, one fact is certain: You have found your personal nirvana.
For me, a writer who prefers to fuel up mentally and gastronomically, AUX DÉLICES satisfies all the necessary requirements. It is here I can entertain my muse as well as cultivate my two favorite sports: eating and writing.
Mae West’s quip, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful,” applies very well to any one of the five Aux Délices: two in Westport and one each in Riverside, Darien and Greenwich. For me, 44 Church Lane, Westport, is where magic happens, and where my imagination takes flight. On most days I can be found at “my table” facing a row of French doors, as I watch the world float by. For a while, the messy and mundane parts of life are put on hold.
Once inside, customers bear witness to an array of open shelves and glass-enclosed cases of freshly made soups, sandwiches and salads that beckon them into a trance. The sweets are so decadent, even the staunchest dieter is seduced and loses his or her composure before succumbing to a flourless chocolate cake oozing fresh cream or a cookie as large as the china plate on which it is served. One and all have been lost to the sweet charms.
“Aux Délices is our very own Parisian café,” says Alina Rodescu-Pitchon, a regular. “It’s a place to meet friends over a salade niçoise, an iced green tea and sparkling conversation without having to leave the comfort of town.”
Being a regular myself, I can relate. It is where my pen is poised and articles are written. I completed an entire novel between bites. A friend humorously suggested I place a sign on my table that reads: “By Appointment Only.”
The staff is as diverse as the patrons and the menu. Jordan Rivera, the manager at 44 Church Lane, is gracious and always accommodating as he oversees it all with a personal and professional touch. His staff, including Laura Mendoza, Maru Aquilara and Alejandro Rangel, never miss a beat as they add a sense of contagious camaraderie to the experience. Alejandro has worked at all five Aux Délices emporiums for eleven years. “Going to work each day feels like coming home,” he says, “and a sense of family prevails.”
Jordan adds, “It’s the customers who make it all worthwhile. The food is fabulous, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee intoxicating, but the best part is the ongoing conversations where so many relevant connections happen.”
On a chilly day the freshly made bowls of spicy turkey chili or hot vegetarian mushroom barley soup lure an artful mix of locals inside. Moms watch over their cherubs snoozing in stylish strollers, local construction workers grab coffee, and ladies who lunch hold court while nibbling on the best ginger-walnut scones in town.
Customers stop by the silver urns to sample and purchase bone broth and turmeric tea, others place a catering order for an upcoming celebration. At places like this, friendships are born, business decisions are made and love affairs take flight over tea for two. In this day and age, where online chats count as communities, a neighborhood café reminds us that the pleasures of meeting and connecting face to face far surpass that of any of our virtual habits. The secret to community is showing up—luckily, it can also be a treat.
See more online, Visit them online at auxdelicesfoods.com for weekly specials, recipes, information on cooking classes for adults and kids, and a gallery of mouthwatering dishes.