I can think of so many ways to repurpose an 8-foot-by-20-foot shipping container. Use it as a place to store your discarded lamps, books, folding chairs, and husband’s hideous red leather sofa from his “wild and crazy” days. Hang a disco ball, invite some bell-bottomed friends, and party like it’s 1977. Drape it with intricately patterned tapestries, burn some incense, and designate it your happy place. But I think we can all agree that La Boîte has figured out the best use: Create a green-conscious French cafe in the center of Austin. My favorite part about visiting Paris has always been the pastries. I’ll stroll into a pâtisserie, and, thanks to the handy language barrier, point to the display case, “That one” (or, if it’s a self-indulgent sort of morning, “and that one and that one”), and then carefully tear into a croissant while sitting at a park. La Boîte will help you relive that fantasy (minus the park, since it’s a to-go place off of busy South Lamar). Their almond croissants are buttery, light, and laced with almond paste, thick almond slices, and powdered sugar. The chocolate brioche is dense in the best way possible, with a heart of creamy bittersweet chocolate that could convince even the staunchest cocoa hater to come over to the dark side. But the real soul of La Boîte comes in the form of tiny sandwich cookies known as macarons. Unlike the brick-solid kosher-for-Passover Manischewitz macaroons that I grew up with, macarons are a French delight: two almond meringue–based cookies joined together by a layer of buttercream filling. Like most of the items on their menu, the macarons at La Boîte are made with local ingredients and rotate weekly (baked goods come from pastry chef Barrie Cullinan, of Vespaio and Enoteca; sandwich fillings are gathered from farmers’ markets and local purveyors such as Full Quiver Farm and Richardson Farms). The hazelnut macarons with Fleur de Sel caramel proved the perfect combination of salty and sweet. But the black pepper and Round Rock honey variety was heavenly—the cookies were fluffy yet substantial, sweet with just a hint of kick, and the thick, melt-in-your-mouth honey buttercream was by far the best part. After such delectable baked treats, the coffee and lattes tasted disappointingly mediocre. I’m kicking myself for not ordering a Fredericksburg peach soda or lavender lemonade. Good thing there are so many practical reasons to go back to “the Box.” For example, I want to play with the trailer’s amazingly modern sliding metal door. I have a plan to smear some buttercream icing on that aforementioned hideous red sofa. Or maybe I just need a few bites of the best croissants and macarons in town. Posted by Megan Giller
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