Sunday, February 9, 2014

Crispy Crepe - South End

If you had asked me a few weeks ago what a crêpe was, I would describe a dentist's worst nightmare: a spongy, super-thin pancake stuffed with sugar-laden fillings like Nutella, fruit, honey, and various syrups and topped with a heavy-handed coating of powdered sugar. Having more of a salt-tooth than a sweet-tooth, I blindly determined that I wouldn't like a crêpe and decided to steer clear of Crispy Crêpe and similar joints until a coworker caught me in a hungry moment and asked me to join him there for lunch. As it turns out, there is a lot more to a crêpe than a half moon-shaped blob of sweet mush! Crispy Crêpe's seven page menu features just as many savory crêpes as sweet crêpes, and also includes some other intriguing options: caramelized waffles, sandwiches, salads, eggs, a huge list of caffeinated beverages, and lots more. On that occasion I decided to order the Gyro Crêpe (peppered crêpe filled with Gyro meat, romaine, tomatoes, and onions and served with cucumber-dill sauce) and was pleasantly surprised by the huge amount of flavor packed into the meat, sauce, and even the crêpe batter itself.  Officially a crêpe convert, I visited the restaurant twice last week -once with BFTB and a second time with my friends Lindsey, Cassie, and Kelli. 

Craving something warm and comforting, BFTB and I hit up Crispy Crêpe to snag a late Saturday lunch (and thank goodness it was late, because this place can get packed at lunchtime, particularly when the weather is warm). After studying the menu, BFTB selected the Avocado BLT Crêpe and I decided to go with the Chipotle Chicken Crêpe. Our server quickly brought over our beverages, and I must note that this place has the best fountain drinks in Charlotte. I don't know what voodoo they do on their machines, but the Diet Pepsi at Crispy Crêpe is seriously the most refreshing and perfectly carbonated soda that I have ever consumed (and I'm a Diet Coke girl). 



Avocado BLT Crêpe

Chipotle Chicken Crêpe

Anyway, BFTB's Avocado BLT Crêpe consisted of crisp romaine lettuce, Roma tomatoes, turkey bacon, and sliced avocado and was drizzled with spicy mustard aioli. I was a little weirded out by the idea of lettuce in a crêpe (I guess I assumed it would get soggy and gross), but it worked in the Avocado BLT. While I definitely prefer regular pork bacon to its turkey-based counterpart, the turkey bacon inside the crêpe was crispy, flavorful, and shockingly tasted like a natural meat product. My Chipotle Chicken Crêpe was also good, but needed a heavy-handed coating of Sriracha to get anywhere near the flavor-level of the Avocado BLT Crêpe. My crêpe consisted of cumin-crusted chicken slices topped with pico de gallo, jack cheese, sliced avocado, and a drizzle of chipotle cream. The chicken was juicy, flavorful (especially when Sriracha'd) and went well with the gooey jack cheese and avocado, but the chipotle cream was a little too much -it kind of felt like I was eating sour cream straight out of the container. As for our sides, BFTB thought his all-strawberries-and-pineapple fruit salad was a little bit of a lame mix, but I thought both fruits tasted fresh and were a solid accompaniment to his savory crêpe. My pasta salad, on the other hand, was a little disappointing as it was both overcooked and underseasoned. Regardless, we were both very impressed with our crêpes and planned to come back ASAP.


S'Mores Latté

When I met my friends on my next visit, they had arrived a little before me (punctuality has never been my strong suit...) and they already ordered S'Mores Lattés (I stuck with the heaven-sent Diet Pepsi, obviously). Even though I'm not a coffee-drinker, I was intrigued by the delicious-looking toasted marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs that topped their foamy drinks. Both Cassie and Lindsey reported that the lattés were delicious, but surprisingly filling and unsurprisingly sugar coma-inducing.


Egg 'n' Turkey Bacon Waffle Platter

All of us decided to order breakfast items, and Kelli went with the Egg 'n' Turkey Bacon Waffle Platter and a side of au gratin potatoes. The waffle was of the liège variety, which sounds pretty fancy but upon conducting some research, I learned that it's really just another term for a Belgian waffle. Kelli was pleased with her choice and it seemed like a good option for somebody who wants a little bit of everything. Cassie ordered the Avocado BLT that BFTB had previously tried and was likewise really impressed.


Egg & Veggie Cheddar Crêpe

Lindsey ordered the Egg & Veggie Cheddar Crêpe, which consisted of a crispy crêpe stuffed with scrambled eggs, caramelized onions, tomatoes, spinach, roasted mushrooms, and cheddar cheese. Out of all of our orders, Lindsey's was the biggest and most delicious-looking. She was a huge fan and really enjoyed the massive quantity of fresh veggies pocketed inside the batter. Based on her enthusiastic report, it's definitely next on my list of crêpes to try.


Smoked Salmon Crêpe

I planned to order an egg crêpe but went rogue at the last second and decided to order the Smoked Salmon Crêpe, a dill-crusted crêpe stuffed with herbed cream cheese, red onions, and sliced smoked salmon and topped with chopped deviled eggs and a drizzle of crème fraîche. While I really liked each of the individual components (I am a huge smoked salmon fan and this fish was a perfect combo of sweetness, brininess, and smokiness), the crêpe wasn't a hit as a whole. I think it was a temperature issue and I just wasn't a fan of the salmon/veggie/crème fraîche combo in it's above-lukewarm-but-less-than-hot state. I ended up kind of scalping my meal and eating it from the inside out, which made it more enjoyable. While it wasn't a complete disaster, it isn't something that I think I'll order again. 

All in all, I'm glad that I gave Crispy Crêpe a shot and have discovered (yet another) new food that I really enjoy. The restaurant is most certainly going to be a staple in my rotation of brunch spots and I look forward to trying more of their crêpes and waffles on future visits. While I recommend steering clear of the Smoke Salmon Crêpe (warmed smoked salmon is just weird, people), everything else I've tried is a hit. For brunch spots, Crispy Crêpe gets an 8/10.

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