E2 = Excellent Eats
Submitted by Jonathan Nasser
Here’s Looking at You, Kid
Like many people, I suffer from a perennial problem: while I know a fair amount about food and restaurants, I can never decide what I want to eat. Of course, most nights involve cooking something from our refrigerator or freezer, but when we go out to eat, I think about how our area has a lot of options to choose from. I rarely have a craving for a particular dish but sometimes I do just want something "different" in some vague way that is difficult to describe. This means that I appreciate when a restaurant can provide something unique - a distinct set of offerings that can set it apart from the rest.
If that sounds like you too, might I suggest Neo Baguette, on 20th Street about a block east of Heights Blvd. At first glance, you might think this is a little cafe with sandwiches and coffee like many others but the restaurant's Moroccan influences are apparent throughout (with French as Spanish sprinkled in as would be expected from Moroccan cuisine). Expect mostly lighter cafe fare with a slightly more elegant touch - unique
salads and the newer trend of fancy toasts, along with the sandwiches and coffee you would otherwise expect. If you're the type of person who likes salad Nicoise or smoked salmon on toast, you will not be disappointed.
Neo Baguette has a good variety of sandwiches that show its style. The Moroccan meatball sandwich and the spicy lamb sausage sandwich show off the Moroccan spice palette, and are not particularly common in Houston. When I think of Moroccan flavors, I think about earthy flavors that you might find elsewhere in north Africa or the Middle East, but with European ingredients mixed in. The grilled chicken sandwich with manchego cheese is reminiscent of the strong Spanish influence in Morocco.
The sandwiches, salads, and toasts are served all day long, but there are also brunch and dinner menus. You might consider going for dinner to try a shrimp pasta, Cornish hen tagine, or the Moroccan spiced burger. For brunch, maybe the french toast ("pain perdu") or an omelette with that Moroccan spiced lamb sausage. There are kids options too, like spaghetti and chicken strips.
As you would expect with this kind of cafe, the offerings are nicely rounded out with a selection of coffee drinks, tea, and desserts (my daughter loved the mango mousse). Neo Baguette does a good job of getting the feel of a relaxed cafe, while offering some unique options.