While wandering around the downtown area of Wooster, Ohio on a recent trip, I just happened to find a quaint little pastry shop and cafe snuggly tucked away in a series of little shops and restaurants. What I had found was owner Elizabeth Lakatos's charming Tulipan (pronounced twee-li-pan) Hungarian Pastry and Coffee Shop. Located at 122 South Market Street, they can be reached at 330-264-8092 and the website is located here.
Thinking that this would be a lovely way to cap my lunch at the Broken Rocks Bakery and Cafe, I decided to investigate further. Here is a shot of the front of the shop:
And a picture of the door to the cafe:
When I walked in, I instantly fell in love. Glass case after glass case of wonderful Hungarian treats were on display. I asked the woman behind the counter whether the various pastries were made in house and she pointed to the back of the restaurant at a sign indicating that there was a bakery in the basement of the restaurant. Everything, she said, is homemade. Here is a bit of what I saw in those glass cases:
Tortes, strudels, Kolachy, oh my! Dorothy would've had a field day and I knew I was in for a real treat, too.
Behind the glass cases are the equipment for freshly brewed teas, coffees, and various espresso concoctions. Here is a shot of the bar behind the pastries:
And a shot of the handwritten menu posted on a chalkboard on the wall:
Tulipan also offers various breakfast and lunch items such as rolled omelettes, pastries (obviously), open faced sandwiches made with decidedly European spreads and daily homemade soups.
But today, I was here to try some of these Hungarian pastries for myself. I decided that to accompany my treats, I would order a nice single shot of unsweetened espresso:
This was a nicely bitter and refreshing cup of espresso and really helped to cut through the sweetness of the desserts. The only problem I had was that there was no crema on top of the liquid. I know, a stickler to be sure, but a proper cup of espresso should have the crema.
Following the suggestion of the woman helping me with my order, I decided to try two of Tulipan's desserts. First up is a lemon-glazed Hungarian cheesecake:
This was a wonderfully creamy cheesecake filling layered on both sides (top and bottom) with cake layers and finished with a sweet lemon glaze. This was the sweeter of the two treats I had, but it was still so well balanced. The texture from the layers of cake were a nice touch to what Americans normally think of when they order cheesecake. The filling was a lighter, creamier style than the New York variety, and the whole bite just sort of melted in your mouth. Of the two desserts I had, I think this one paired better with the espresso I ordered.
My other dessert choice was a slice of the classic European dessert, the Dobos Torte. Tulipan's version was on par with any that I've had in the past:
Seven layers of impossibly thin vanilla cake sponge and rich creamy chocolate buttercream frosting were topped with a nice crunchy layer of caramelized sugar. Not only impressive to look at, but delicious as well. Despite all of that cake and frosting, the sweetness on the Dobos Torte was very controlled. It was an excellent study in the difference between American desserts and classic European desserts. I truly enjoyed Tulipan's version, although getting that fork successfully through a crunchy caramel layer all the way to the plate was definitely a challenge. But a fun challenge, nevertheless.
I briefly chatted with Elizabeth Lakotos after I had finished up my pastries and she graciously allowed me to take all of the lovely snapshots of her shop without even really knowing who I was or what I was up to. The next time I return, I hope to get some additional time to talk with her about the simply marvelous products she serves to her customers. I heartily suggest you give Tulipan a try the next time you are in downtown Wooster. You won't be sorry you did.