Someone in Oklahoma told him he should bring rodeos to Europe. Stanley Marcus told him that if he created a French country bakery next to SMU, it would be a success. And he grew up at the feet of a handful of French women cooking their way through World War II.
These were the accidents that brought Patrick Esquerre to Dallas and brought us the opening of La Madeleine 18 years ago. His latest culinary venture, however, Esquerre has been planning for years, and is a “baby” affectionately called Café Patrique.
“The concept is the quality of the food,” Esquerre says.
Café Patrique boasts that all food served is prepared from scratch, all natural and, in a new twist, offered in a frozen counterpart ready to be heated at home.
“The food is what I call the food of ‘the flavor belt’, which is the Mediterranean, with Central America, including Texas and then Asia; the best spices, the best herbs, the best flavors,” he says.
Search in the back of the café, and you’ll find a market with wine, a private dining room for parties and wine tastings, and the freezers stocked with the restaurant’s menu.
The accident that he says crystallized the concept of Café Patrique was when, one day, his mother “prepared a meal the way I have never seen her do before,” he says, in his thick French accent. “She had prepared it before in the kitchen, and then she had put it in little boxes in the freezer, and she puts the little box in the microwave,” he says, incredulous. “I never even had a microwave myself in my home! This was it. It was delicious, it was wonderful.”
Culinary giants such as Stephan Pyles, David Holben, Kenneth Mills, and the three-star Michelin chefs Esquerre worked with in France, all contributed ideas and meals to Café Patrique’s lunch/dinner menu.
However, Esquerre knows where his croissant is buttered.
“The main thing is the customers. This is the most important thing,” he says. “They are the ones who tell you: Is it good? Too spicy? Whatever, customers show you the way. I go to the table, and I ask them because, for me, it is very, very important to get the information.
So, how was your tomato basil soup? Good and spicy? How about the poached Atlantic salmon in a fresh dill sauce? The portabella beef tenderloin with wild mushrooms in a port wine sauce? Did you try the spicy shrimp tamale? The warm chocolate fondant with orange sauce?
“Even though I am from France,” he pauses, “this is my home now, and I would like for everybody to feel at home in my home.” *
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.