Le Darwin: Troyes, France
Phone: +33 3 25 42 91 03
Hours: Tue-Sat 11-22:00, Sun 10-14:00, Closed M
Entrance Fee: None
Cat Cafe Evolution: Review of Le Darwin
Cat cafes are not often known for the food served to humans.
It's understandable if you think about it. Cats should be the first and foremost priority with a nice atmosphere and cup of coffee running a distant second. But France has proven that their cat cafes not only deliver on the felines, but also gourmet food experiences.
Troyes, a 1.5 hour train ride from Paris, is an historic city known for medieval half timbered buildings and narrow, cobbled streets. I'm hoping it will soon be famed for its top-notch cat cafe.
Le Darwin is located in an attractive setting, a square next to a Basilique Saint-Urbain that I admired as I arrived shortly after the 11 am opening time. When the sign on the door indicated that was delayed noon, I walked around and took in the sights, which is a bonus of being in France; there is never a shortage of interesting things to gaze upon.
I returned just after noon to a warm welcome from the host. As I was seated, we communicated using a little bit of French (me) and a little bit of English (the host) as our mutual love of cats seemed to transcend the language barrier.
Looking over the menu, there was an impressive selection of delicious-sounding options. While I was deciding, the cats began to make their way over and within a minute I was in love. There are nine felines in residence, all available for adoption sans two 'house cats' Mika & Maya. The kitties, (including a black short-hair, gorgeous green-eyed tabby and a Siamese mix named Fripouille) took turns on my lap for ear scratches and cuddles which I happily delivered in between lunch courses. I learned that since the cafe's opening in January, 2017, they have successfully adopted 12 cats.
Normally, I prefer to gush about kitties, but oh my goodness, the food here was amazing! The amuse bouche was a cold garlic sauce topped with croutons and radish while my main, an Oeuf frite (soft boiled egg coated in crumbs and fried, like a Scotch egg) topped with bacon was divine perfection.
For dessert I indulged in a crusty almond cupcake split in two and topped with a dense white chocolate frosting and mango sauce, plus a side of icy lemon sorbet adorned with bits of salt, merengue and candied lemon peel. It was very sweet but nicely balanced by the citrus and various textures.
All of this epicurean delight was also incredibly good value with two coffees, entree and dessert totaling less than €15.
If the cats and food aren't enough to tempt you, the space is also lovely, separated into three areas including the main bar, dining room and coffee nook. The ambience is comfortable and cozy set to a soundtrack of upbeat, electro-pop music.
My visit to Le Darwin excelled in all areas and whether you are a cat lover or gourmand, I'm confident a visit to Troyes would be a highlight of any trip to France.
Date Visited: 11/29/17