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Published September 3rd 2012
France can wait
Who hasn't heard of the classic crepes with Nutella, maple syrup or sugar and lemon? They are perfect for breakfast, dinner or dessert. But what the French tried to tell us is that that spongy paste –also known as the French version of pancake - is as useful as bread and it can be tried in different flavours: sweet, bitter and savoury tastes as fillings, on top, on the side, all over the crepe and so on.
There is no need to go to France to try these amazing crepes. There is a place in London, right off Oxford street, in a lovely square called St. Christopher's place, where they serve some crepes that go from sweets with fruits and Nutella, alcoholic beverages to shocking ingredients like spinach, mushroom, tuna, Mexican chilli, wine, and even seafood.
This cosmos of crepes is called Café Crêperie, where the crepe is the king and the kingdom is called flavour. The batter of the crepe is amazing. I met someone from Spain who has been coming to London every year and has visited Creperie Café every time for 7 years. Don't try asking the chefs how they make it. I did and they just answered "like a crepe, like a crepe", over and over until I gave up and wished them a good day.
On the menu, there are crepes for every craving and preference. The vegetarians can also find delicious savoury crepes which include mozzarella, vegetables, and a special French dish called ratatouille – yes, like the Disney movie – which includes cooked vegetables like zucchini, aubergine, garlic, onion, pepper and tomato.
The simple crepes include basic savoury fillings like ham, cheese, egg and vegetables. Then we find the special crepes, and this is where it gets interesting. You have probably heard of tuna melt sandwich but have you heard of tuna melt crepe? It doesn't sound right, does it? Well, it comes as a surprise, but it's just the right taste for those who like tuna. For the adventurers looking for a more intense flavour, there is the option Mex Chili Beef. Instead of a wrap, it's a crepe with spicy chilli and melted cheese served with a side of sour crème.
For the chicken and cheese lovers such as me, there are a few options on the menu. My favourite is one crepe called Poulet Provençale which includes chicken, cheese and ham with ratatouille. The mix of cooked vegetables with chicken and cheese is just right. Plus, it tricks my mind into believing I am actually eating healthy, so it all works out. There is another dish that closely competes with the one before, which is Coq au Vin and it includes fresh chicken with onions and mushrooms in a wine sauce. The latter has a sour flavour that combined with the other ingredients makes a lovely dish. Besides, mushroom is the classic favourite to accompany chicken.
There is also a national crepe called L'Anglaise which honours English usage of bacon, and another one called Florentine for those who want to try a crepe with spinach, cheese and egg. Right at the end of the special crepes, we find the impossible flavour crepe, the one combination that makes you frown and move backwards. It's called Fruits the Mer –yes, all the names are in French, but the descriptions are in English, lucky for the waiters – and this particular crepe includes salmon, tuna, and prawns, all marinated with a delicious prawn sauce. For everyone out there who likes to try new flavours, this is the one to go for. The last in the list are the sweet crepes which include the all-time favourite: Nutella with bananas. This was the second crepe I ever tried in this restaurant, and it sent me through the roof. It is such a heavenly combination! The architect of this crepe should take a bow. Other ingredients include strawberry with Nutella or cream cheese.
Some of these crepes are alcoholic. These include Apple Cinnamon, Grand Marnier, Tropical and Caraibes. I tried the first one which comprises -like its name reveals- cooked apples and cinnamon plus calvados and almonds. It was exquisite. Then, there are other combinations of pears and pineapple with sauces and cream cheese. Most of the sweet crepes come with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. The presentation of the dishes is also aesthetically refined for a creperie and also mouth-watering.
For those who want to visit the place but cannot find a friend who likes crepes, there are other options on the menu such as burgers and salads.
The ambience of the café is simply ideal. It is located in the city centre close to Hyde Park, tourist sites and stores. Yet, it enjoys the tranquillity of the square St. Christopher's Place, like an Oasis located, instead of the middle of the desert, in the middle of London's eccentrically crowdie downtown.
The tables are mainly located outside on the open air, thus it is a great place to have a good time and enjoy the nice weather in the last weeks of summertime. For those who would like to wander alone, they can read or write while enjoying a crepe under the heat of the English sun.
Where there is Café Crêperie, France can wait.
For reservations or more information, call 020 7935 8480.