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Crispy CrÍpes Cafť
Donít be afraid of the French
BY NINA MACLAUGHLIN

  PREVIOUS COLUMNS

Maybe itís the accents, but French food always seems to fall under the heading of gourmet (the fries are an exception). Escargot, pâté, beef bourguignon. In terms of price and palate, French food occupies a secure position at the top of the food ladder ó a ladder you may be just starting to climb.

Crispy Crêpes Café, however, brings one mainstay of French cuisine to a reachable rung on the ladder. The tiny café 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 cafés; the order-at-the-counter routine, tiled tables, and paper napkins ó along with Tom Petty playing on the kitchen radio ó give the place a gimickless, low-key feel. At nine oíclock 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 thing about this venue is the circumflex (that little triangle thing) over the e. Otherwise, itís really just a pizza place with crêpes.

And there are a lot of crêpes to choose from. In the savory-crêpe category, the fillings sound like toppings, from the simple (crêpe au fromage, with two cheeses) to the deluxe (smoked salmon, tomato, onion, chopped egg, and cream cheese). The crêpe 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 mozzarella ($5.95), is filled with a generous amount of chicken and cheese; a whisper of basil pulls it together. In both crêpes, the veggies are fresh, warm, and juicy.

Crispy Crêpes Caféís sweet crêpes 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 crêpe, with a choice of apricot, raspberry, or strawberry jam ($4.50), offers a subtler experience, but one thatís 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 Crêpes Café, enjoy fancy French food with pizza-place personality.

Crispy Crêpes Café, located at 512A Park Drive, in Boston, is open Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to midnight; on Friday, from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.; on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and on Sunday; from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Free delivery within a limited area. Call (617) 859-9585.

Issue Date: October 10 - 17, 2002
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