It was a place brimming with small town charm – rustic, cozy, and welcoming. West Oak Coffee Bar was full of students who were still studying for their midterms (the local university got out a week after Penn did!), but I managed to snag a relatively quiet space near the back.
I asked the (coffee) bartender what he recommended, and he said he was obsessed with the lemon chess pie. While I’m not really a pie person, he was so enthusiastic that I decided to give it a shot. I placed my order, and he handed me a playing card as an order number. To top off the quirkiness of this place, when I asked for a cup of water, he pointed to a stack of deep purple mason jars near the back, next to a water faucet.
I didn’t wait long for the pie. A waitress brought it out to me, on a simple porcelain plate. She saw my expression, and smiled. “Is this your first time ordering this?” When I said yes, she laughed and told me I was in for a treat.
At first glance, the lemon chess pie was easily one of the prettiest things I’d ever seen. With a bright yellow base on a thick, flaky crust, the towering stack of light pink cream on top was a perfect way to complete the dessert. I dug my fork into the pie, and took my first bite of one of West Oak’s most famous seasonal specialties.
The whipped cream hit me first. The sweet taste of blackberry filled my mouth – with a thin undertone of lavender. It was all perfectly balanced by the tart lemon underneath. The texture was creamy and rich, and met every expectation I had of this pie.
If you happen to be passing through the Dallas area, make sure to take a brief thirty-minute detour to a town called Denton. There, you’ll find one of the best-kept secrets of the South: West Oak Coffee Bar and its amazing lemon chess pie.