In less than seven years, Bleak House Coffee has blossomed from an unassuming cafe to a downtown staple. First opened in 2012 on Madison Avenue in the Spitzer Building, the cafe briefly closed when the historic building shut down in December 2013.
Thanks to crowdfunding efforts, the coffee house, named for Charles Dickens’ famous novel poking fun at the legal profession’s inefficiency, reopened in July 2014 less than a block from the Lucas County Courthouse on Adams Street.
The cafe’s warm atmosphere, an artsy environment with friendly baristas and creative conversation, is complemented by the House’s rules — everything is fresh and organic.. This practice is evident through their latest effort, delicate, perfect pastries, made in-house daily.
In Dickens’s Bleak House, owner John Jarndyce proclaimed a simple truth: “Constancy in love is a good thing; but it means nothing, and is nothing, without constancy in every kind of effort.”
Sure, it might be a stretch to relate Dickens’ character’s words to pastries, but the hyperbole seems like an appropriately flowery description of the ornate eclairs, quiches, and other pastries that debuted this month. Like the gourmet brunches and artisan waffles that have made Bleak House a destination, this new addition follows the cafe’s code of reliably exceeding expectations.
With thanks to newcomer Kelsey Motoligin, a 21 year-old pastry chef trained at the Macomb Culinary Institute, Bleak House has directed their sweet dedication towards confectionary curiosities new to Toledo, such as lemongrass, earl grey, and coffee flavored eclairs, rich and custardy French canelés, and a sweet-and-spicy candied bacon quiche.
Motoligin relies on her background working with upscale bakers at The Home Bakery in Rochester, Michigan and the flavors of her unique pastries are fueled by inventiveness and newfound creative freedom: “You don’t see them (eclairs) a lot… especially with a lot of different flavors. Most places stick to traditional varieties, and Bleak House is everything but traditional. It’s really nice to be able to use my creativity and develop new ideas that click so well with this place.”
For now, Bleak House is working with a set menu— six distinct flavors of eclairs, three varieties of quiche, canelés, madeleines— as well as treats to satisfy both vegans and customers with gluten allergies.
Motoligin says patrons should expect fresh donuts and cronuts— a combination croissant and donut— in February 2018, with new flavors coming next summer.
Until then? Taking it slow, getting everything right, and building a business of patrons ordering cakes, pastries, and eclairs, including off-menu flavors, for special events and parties.
Weekenders in love with Bleak House’s brunch should love the sweet change. General manager Dakota Cousino assures that you can still expect weekend waffles with brunch: “Right now, we just want to focus on the pastries, streamline the catering, and expand our offerings. We have a lot of cool ideas for the future, but today comes first. “
While candied daydreams provoke curiosity and appetites, flights of fancy are settled by the Bleak House rule — good finds meaning through constancy.
We can get used to this.
612 Adams St., 419-740-1125. bleakhousecoffee.com
7:30am-4pm, Monday-Friday. 9am-2pm, Saturday-Sunday.