Maybe it’s the accents, but French food always seems to fall under the heading of gourmet (the fries are an exception). Escargot, pate, beef bourguignon. In terms of price and palate, French food occupies a secure position at the top of the food ladder – a ladder you may be just starting to climb.Crispy Crepes Cafe, however, brings one mainstay of French cuisine to a reachable rung on the ladder. The tiny cafe has the feel of a slightly hipped-up pizza place. A high ceiling, exposed brick walls, and track lighting set off a landscape typical of college cafes; the order-at-the-counter routine, tiled table, and paper napkins – along with Tom Petty playing on the kitchen radio – give the place a gimickless, low-key feel. At nine o’clock on a recent Tuesday night, four of the seven tables were occupied, and people picking up take out orders arrived in a steady stream, some dressed in sweat pants, some in skirts. The fanciest things about this venue is the circumflex (that little triangle thing) over the e. Otherwise, it’s really just a pizza place with crepes.
And there are a lot of crepes to choose from. In the savory-crepe category, the fillings sound like toppings, from the simple (crepe au fromage, with two cheeses) to the deluxe (smoke salmon, tomato, onion, chopped egg, and cream cheese). The crepe containing tomato, grilled zucchini, and roasted pepper with goat cheese ($5.25) is a pocket of pleasure. Long strips of red pepper and large chunks of zucchini keep their individual flavors inside the light, crispy pancake. The Tuscany, with pesto-scented chicken, tomato, spinach, and mozarella ($5.95), is filled with a generous amount of chicken and cheese; a whisper of basil pulls it together. In both crepes, the veggies are fresh, warm, and juicy.
Crispy Crepes Cafe’s sweet crepes are exceptional, and like their savory counterparts, range from the subtle to the almost overwhelming. A filling of strawberries, bananas, and chocolate ($5.25) flirts with the latter. Warm banana slices slathered in liquid chocolate and the sweet flush of strawberries all folded within a delicate, golden crust make a decadent treat. The understated sweetness of the ricotta-cheese crepe, with a choice of apricot, raspberry or strawberry jam ($4.50), offers a subtler experience, but one that’s no less satisfying.
There’s also a selection of salads (around $6) and pastas (around $8). But why bother? You can get those anywhere. At Crispy Crepes Cafe, enjoy fancy French food with pizza-place personality.