My friend Bex.oxo told me about a new French cafe in Marda Loop, Le Comptoir, by François. Her roommate Valentina recently arrived from Ukraine and started working there, so we decided to visit on a sunny afternoon. Let’s listen to “Le Gorille” by George Brassens for this post.
This quaint cafe only fits a couple of people inside, but the patio is outfitted with a fireplace and a heater, complete with piles of folded blankets and stacks of wood. We chose to sit on the couch in front of the fire. Between the crackling flames, the French music filtrating the air, and the general adorableness of the outdoor / indoor room, we were transported to somewhere else. I felt like I was in a scene in one of my favourite books.
I ordered the Mushroom Quiche ($12) and a glass of red wine ($13). Bex.oxo picked the Pistachio Crumble ($8.75), and she bought me the Almond Croissant ($4.85) and Mediterranean Cake ($11) to eat the next day.
Bex.oxo cut her cake in half to share with me. I refused to eat her treat, but I did take a bite for the blog. She appreciated the thin crust, as it’s more delicate than the pies she bakes. For the record, my friend bakes the best pumpkin pie, all from scratch. I thought the nuggets of berries added a nice tartness to counter the sweetness of the pistachio cream.
The quiche is not the soggy, eggy mess I make at home. Instead, the pastry was thin and crispy. The custard was silky, hot and cheesy, studded with savoury, crunchy mushroom slices. Bex.oxo mentioned the owner comes in every morning to bake everything fresh.
Valentine told us the staff from the shop next door, Gardenia Flowers, bought cake to cheer themselves up. Three of the employees are from Iran, so they too, were dealing with shock and sadness from the crisis occurring in their homeland. I stopped by Gardenia to handpick a bouquet to brighten my living room.
Valentine also told us about a two-table “secret” speakeasy inside a beauty salon at the back of the building. We visited at 5:00 pm, but it wasn’t open yet. So instead, we decided to walk home and try visiting again in the future.
I shared the Mediterranean cake with L. Holy cannoli! The sweetness of the almond icing paired beautifully with the citrus in the orange cake. The cake was bright, citrusy and fragrant. I would order this again.
The next day I reheated the almond croissant in my air fryer. I was impressed with the soft, buttery layers of pastry. What I loved was the exterior of the croissant was flaky and not the dry, crackly type that leads to a thousand uneaten crumbs.
Bex.oxo wished more places like this existed in Calgary. I don’t generally hang out in Marda Loop, but Le Comptoir, by François, will be a regular spot for us. This cafe is worth a stop if you have half an hour to an hour to spare. I recommend stopping by for leisurely breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack. Hitting the Sauce gives Le Comptoir two fat thumbs up.