Hiya, happy Friday! Today begins a new fall series here on So Much Life called “weekend coffee date.” Each Friday, I’ll take you with me to one of my favorite coffee shops, cafés, or bakeries in ATX. (There are so many good ones!)
I’ve loved exploring coffee shops for almost as long as I can remember. Back in high school, when I lived in Dallas, I’d hunker down in White Rock Coffee while I studied for the SAT and worked on my college applications. Then I moved to Chicago, and while I was living there (and barely making ends meet, I might add…), I’d save a little bit of my grocery budget to splurge on a weekly latte at my favorite coffee shop downtown.
Now that I’m living in Austin, I’ve been to nearly every coffee shop and bakery in the city. Each one is unique in its own way. Whether you’re looking for the best shot of espresso, the tastiest pastries, or a comfy place with cute little nooks and crannies to spend a rainy day with a book, you’ll probably be able to find it in Austin.
Happy weekend, friends!
The name says it all…Brentwood Social House. It’s an adorable bungalow-turned-coffee house in the Brentwood neighborhood of Austin. A place to gather. Co-owners Sarah and Suzanne created this cozy space after receiving overwhelming feedback from their online neighborhood community: “yes, we want a local coffee house!”
Before it was a café, the building that now holds Brentwood Social House was a clothing boutique. And before that? Well, walk through the front door and you’ll be able to see the bones of the original house. It’s still sectioned into several rooms, which makes it a perfect place show up either solo or with a group. There’s a meeting room available for rent (very reasonably priced, I might add!), a children’s play room in the back corner, and a main room with a variety of mismatched tables. The front porch has a few small places to perch, perfect for sipping a cuppa while reading the paper, and the sprawling dog-friendly back yard has big picnic tables and umbrellas for those lovely fall days we get here in Austin.
One of the first things you’ll notice upon walking in the front door is the front counter. It’s an eye-catching blue, made from what appears to be dozens of unique dresser drawers. Owner Suzanne told me their story: “I found the drawers around the neighborhood from dressers and nightstands that were being thrown out, and the cabinet maker installed them into the front counter.” It’s one of the ways that the community was involved in the creation of this little gathering place.
Beyond the regular selection of coffee, tea, and espresso drinks, Brentwood Social House offers a traditional English Afternoon Tea (or “High Tea”), complete with a three-tiered stand of sweet and savory pastries, a lace table cloth and flowers, and vintage table ware. (Hello, cutest weekend date ever!) They also have a wine and beer selection.
This is the only place in Austin, to my knowledge, where you can find such a vast selection of English pastries….and they are lovely. There’s comfort hiding inside a hot cup of tea and a sweet Bakewell Tart. Owner Sarah sat down to chat with me while I was tasting a variety of them. She’s originally from England (but has been in Texas since 2011), and she’s the baking mastermind at Brentwood Social House.
When I asked her what makes English baking different, she replied, “well, there’s the tradition of it. These recipes are quite old. They’re also much simpler, and not as sweet as your typical American dessert.”
A few of my favorite eats:
Millionaire Bar: Originally from Scotland, the Millionaire Bar is three decadent layers of shortbread, housemate caramel, and milk chocolate. It’s incredibly rich…I shared this bar with Kiera , and we still couldn’t quite finish the whole thing!
Bakewell Tart: The Bakewell Tart is my favorite. It’s a thin pie crust beneath a layer of English raspberry jam and flavourful almond cake, topped with whole almonds. It’s sweet, yet not overbearing.
Spinach-Feta Tartlet: Spinach, feta, and free-range egg baked in a Belgium puff pastry, topped with tomato. It’s light and savory.
Mon-Sun, 7 am – 6 pm
1601 W. Koenig Lane
Austin, Texas 78756
** Photos by Kiera Jane of France Photographers