Café gourmand – a French speciality


One of the best inventions in French cuisine in recent years, in my opinion, is the café gourmand.

I’m not big on desserts. Also I think that the best and most inventive dishes in French restaurants are the entrées. By the time dessert comes, I’ve usually had enough to eat. What I really prefer is a cup of coffee with a little tidbit on the side. And that is exactly what a café gourmand is, except that there are usually three or four different little tidbits.


Gourmand’ is an interesting word in itself. It sort of means ‘greedy’ but with a more positive connotation. Far from being negative like ‘greedy’ though, ‘gourmand’ usually indicates someone who likes their food and finds it hard to resist the temptation for more. “Je n’ai plus faim. C’est de la gourmandise.” (“I’m not hungry any more. It’s just for pleasure.”) This is a perfectly acceptable French way of taking another helping, even when you’ve already had enough to eat.


A café gourmand is usually presented on a large plate – often of unusual shape – with a coffee cup and several mini desserts on top. These can be in the form of a small slice of something, such as a chocolate cake. Or they can come in a miniature container, such as a tiny crème brulée. You can ask the waiter what’s on special that day but you can’t order anything in particular.


And of course you’re not just limited to coffee – you can also choose decaffeinated or milk coffee, or tea. You might have to pay a little extra for these. A café gourmand is always very reasonably priced, usually less than a dessert and always less than both dessert and coffee ordered separately. So enjoy!


From the photos in this article, the café gourmand at ‘L’Appart’thé’ is my favourite (image one). What about you? What’s your favourite?

All images by Rosemary Kneipp
1. Soft-centred chocolate cake in French custard, fruitcake, chocolate muffin, shortbread biscuit and cupcake at L’Appart’thé in Blois.
2. Soft-centred chocolate cake, cream puff, crème brûlée at Le Penalty in Blois.
3. Brownie, chocolate cake, raspberry-nougat cake at Le Mesturet in Paris.
4. Crème brûlée, macaroon, soft-centred chocolate cake and cream puff at Vinomania in Blois.
5. Pistachio mousse, pound cake, brownie, brown sugar biscuit, nougat and chocolate at L’Embarcadère in Blois.

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Rosemary Kneipp

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  1. zoe Aug 24, 2012 at 12:42 PM - Reply

    I like the simplicity of #2, also the cup of coffee is more, well, coffee-ish.
    A close second would be #3- interesting plate,nice glass coffee cup, also just 3 things, but loses points big time for the paper packet of sugar, plus the sauces look sloppy and the chocolate cake seems to have been cut sloppily.

  2. Judy MacMahon Aug 24, 2012 at 2:06 PM - Reply

    HI Rosemary, I’ve very curious to know if you ate all of these? If so which was the MOST delicious?

  3. Rosemary Kneipp Aug 24, 2012 at 5:28 PM - Reply

    Zoe, #2 looks good but wasn’t all that tasty. Surprisingly, it was in the cheapest restaurant of the lot! #3 does look sloppy I agree and I was surprised when it arrived because it’s a very good restaurant we often go to.
    Judy, yes, I have to admit that I did eat them all (and many more …). #1 really was the most delicious. It comes from a little restaurant in Blois which is a really more of a tea shop than a restaurant so they specialise in cakes. They also serve excellent light lunches.

  4. Celine Mangiardi Aug 27, 2012 at 9:40 AM - Reply

    It looks delicious!!

  5. Hannah Duke Aug 28, 2012 at 12:39 PM - Reply

    I would definitely choose 1 or 2… or perhaps we could create ‘super café gourmand’ and have even more desserts in each!

  6. Rosemary Kneipp Aug 28, 2012 at 8:35 PM - Reply

    Oh, là, là, quelle gourmande !!!

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