La Creperie Cafe
This is one of three crêperies that opened in Philly a few years ago (although one has closed...) The café is in a tiny storefront on the 1700 block of Sansom, near the former site of the venerable Commissary. It is impossible to park around here, but try, because these are the best crêpes in Philly.
The decor of the café leaves a little to be desired. Tables are rickety bamboo things, the chairs are downright uncomfortable, and the walls are fairly plain. It is not a particularly elegant spot, but all of that seems insignificant when one bites into one of these crispy, yet still elastic pancakes.
Choices of fillings have expanded since my first visit. At first it had seemed that all crêpes had ham, cheese and mushrooms, with the occasional addition or re-ordering of ingredients. I half expected to see Vikings chanting "Spam Spam Spam Spam.." at the next table.
Of course, as far as I am concerned, this is fine. I had a ham, swiss and mushroom, and it was among the finest crêpes I have ever had, and I've had a few: here, in Canada, and in Paris. It is a classic combination for good reason.
Crêpephilic dining partner had a selection from the oddly-named "Panini-Crêpe" section, which thankfully seems to have been eliminated on the newer menu, so the mystery of the name will remain. This example had ham (of course), brie and apples. It was also good, but paled in comparison to my version with swiss cheese.
On another visit, DDP had an excellent melange of lamb sausage, feta cheese and vegetables, that was assertive, and delicious. I had the "Orientale" which was stuffed with chicken, olives, raisins and, oddly, couscous, all on a bed of romaine lettuce. The flavor was very good, evoking a warm Moroccan salad, but the starchy couscous seemed a bit redundant wrapped in the crêpe. On another trip, I enjoyed the "Bon Appetit" which featured French sausage, peppers and onions.
We didn't have enough of an appetite to try the dessert crepes, as the savory versions were very large, stuffed with a generous portion of fillings. Banish those memories of the crêpes that your Mom made with that electric thingy someone gave her for Christmas in 1979. These are not dinky, rubbery little rolls of pancake. These crêpes are large, lacy, crispy yet soft, and folded over in several layers to make a wonderful multi-leaved texture, crisp envelope contrasting with oozing cheese.
There's not much else on the menu, although there are some salads and quiches, etc, if you happen to be dining out with some sociopath that won't eat crêpes. The beverage selection is fairly limited, even though it has expanded since my first visit. They have large bottles of imported cider, but $10 or more seemed a bit steep to have a simple beverage with lunch. We were too timid to try the strange-looking mint and milk concoction that breezed past our table. It might be good, but it scared me.
Service was very friendly, but I can imagine that there could be some bottlenecks if the place gets too full. This spot doesn't make their crêpes out in a window, as a spectator sport. Interestingly, they are the best tasting ones in Philly as well. Is there a connection?
With a few places specializing in crêpes in town now, you mostly just need to choose a context. If you want a lovely spot for an elegant dinner, or innovative fillings, try Beau Monde at 6th and Bainbridge. But if you want the best-tasting of the bunch, come here.
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