It was an early Saturday morning when I walked into the mysterious building. Beakers and vials lined the counters. The periodic table of elements hung near the entrance, appearing to be a reference for weird and bizarre experiments.
An entire wall was a black chalk board with illustrations of what looked like potentially life-changing inventions. Strange hisses and thick clouds of steam filled the atmosphere. Beautiful fixtures designed out of black pipe felt cold to the touch that morning.
All my senses were alive. And then, stepping out through a set of doors comes a lab coat wearing Mad Scientist of sorts. What kind of molecular gastronomy did he have in store? What had I done? Why did I sacrifice myself for the sake of your stomach, Lafayette? This is my story. The story of the day I became a “Lab Rat” and first tasted the Boudin Croissant.
Located in booming River Ranch, The Lab is a senses altering coffee shop that pushes the envelope on flavor and fun. Operated by Thomas Peters, The Lab offers a variety of coffees and teas that span the globe, pastries, cookies and cold sweet creams; a Frankenstein of gelato and ice cream that comes in flavors that the guys with 31 wouldn’t dare carry.
Thomas is no stranger to the coffee game here in town. With his many years of experience in running successful operations, this veteran of caffeinated cafes leads his culinary and creative team with excellence while still allowing for their creative expression.
He sat down across from me at the large farm table in the back of the cafe and handed me a stack of papers to rate the boudin stuffed flakey morsels I was about to try. I was told there were multiple boudins sourced from local meat markets and a couple of different croissant recipes. The Mad Scientist brought out plate after plate of boudin croissant combinations, cup after cup of coffee; rubbing his hands together as he described each plate with a contagious excitement that left me stuffing my face with pastry as fast as I could. It’s easy to see why The Lab is a leader in the local coffee shop scene. The entire staff has a desire to engage with the customer, making sure you have the most memorable experience possible. They WANT you to enjoy your coffee; to savor it, not to chug it down in a rush while driving from Point A to Point B. This care and attention to detail is also seen in the Boudin Croissant.
Though it may not resemble your traditional croissant, the pasty used in the Boudin Croissant is as French as Marie Antoinette. The soft, warm, buttery crust flakes off in just the right places. A cross section of the croissant allows you to see all the airy pockets that give this classic pastry its fame. The Boudin Croissant measures a substantial 6 inches by 3 inches. The size is perfect for a morning bite or an afternoon snack to get you through your work day blues. Tucked inside the warm crust is the perfect amount of rich, flavorful boudin. The boudin’s mix of rice, meat and onion is enough to ensure the croissant doesn’t have a mushy consistency, but not so much that the flavors compete and clash. You taste each individual flavor, yet they come together like a family. Each is different, but working together to make something amazing. The boudin has one more little surprise. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice a little sweetness resting on your tongue at the end of each bite. I’m not sure if The Lab uses honey or that Louisiana syrup we are all fans of, but the combination of heat, salt and sweet give you that perfect bite that every Lafayettian desires.
Make sure you try some local favorites next time you visit. Try a Swamp Pop float...
...or ask for the super secret mini cone!
Not sure if you want coffee or ice cream? Try an Affogato; two shots of espresso poured over the sweet cream of your choice.
Don’t be too shy to sample the flavors. Fresh juices are always on the menu and if you are brave enough to experiment, try a latte with WesMar Farms Goat Milk. It’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted.
I don’t think I’ve been the same since the experiment. Things are different now. Strange combinations make more sense, and nothing is clearer than this; for a warm combination of a classic French pastry and a Lafayette staple, the Boudin Croissant from The Lab is an “Eat This Lafayette” item.
If the trek to River Ranch happens to be out of your way, don’t worry. You can now have The Lab at ACA located in Downtown Lafayette in the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
Follow The Lab on Facebook for special deals, new treats and giveaways.
The Lab Handcrafted Coffees & Comforts
1042 Camellia Blvd Suite 6
The Lab at ACA
101 W Vermillion St