The Paris review

Fooled ya! The food at A. Paris looks and tastes just like the food in the Paris, but it’s really in downtown Sparks.

Fooled ya! The food at A. Paris looks and tastes just like the food in the Paris, but it’s really in downtown Sparks.

Photo By David Robert

I’ve only been to Paris once, and I spent the time engaged in two of my favorite hobbies, eating and drinking. Paris is, of course, one of the world’s greatest cities for those activities. One of my favorite memories from that trip is stumbling back to my hostel late at night and stopping to buy a crepe from one of the ubiquitous street vendors. I love how adaptable crepes are; they can be sweet or savory, a meal or a dessert, good for a gourmet breakfast or a drunken late-night snack.

So I was quite excited about this new Parisian-style “café et creperie” in a downtown Sparks block already home to a diverse array of cuisines: an Italian restaurant, an American microbrewery, a Mexican cantina and an Irish pub. Even before stepping inside, one suspects that A. Paris is an excellent addition to the neighborhood. The exterior, with its red awning and ample outdoor seating, has a distinctly continental appeal.

The interior has a pleasant, burgundy and pastel green color scheme and pictures of—this comes as no surprise—Paris. The proprietor, conveniently, is named Anita Paris, thus the café's name, A. Paris.

Good jazz adds to the ambience. I was expecting Django Reinhardt or something, but the only thing I recognized was Dave Brubeck, good stuff, nonetheless. Unfortunately, the jazz (and our conversation) was partially drowned out by the incredibly loud buzz of a refrigerator.

The crepes are excellent. I was dining with my mother, and we started out with a couple savory crepes. I had ham with Gruyére, bechamel sauce and fresh basil, and my mom had wild mushroom and ricotta, Gruyére and bechamel (both $7.25). They’re large and prettily presented, and the flavors are well balanced and exciting. But they do seem slightly overpriced, considering that, on a Paris street corner, one can buy a similar crepe for just a couple of euros.

Not that there needs to be, but there’s more to A. Paris than just crepes. The café also does pastries, soups, salads, a variety of sandwiches, espresso drinks, smoothies, wine, beer and, perhaps most important of all, gelato—rich, thick European ice cream.

Dessert is potentially dangerous at A. Paris. I found myself torn between the gelato and a sweet crepe. Eventually, and somewhat predictably, I decided on both. I had a crepe with Nutella, bananas, cream and chocolate sauce—delicious decadence that the sweet-tooth-impaired can only dream of. I sampled a few of the gelato flavors; the vanilla-bourbon was excellent, as was the lemon-mint, which looked and sounded unappetizing but proved to be quite refreshing. It had a palette-cleansing flavor that sent the mouth spinning in two different directions at once. After much deliberation and flavor comparison, I eventually decided to get a pint ($5) of the French chocolate-caramel-brandy-fudge gelato to take home.

With the full selection of coffee drinks, pastries and the ever-versatile crepes, A. Paris is a great spot for a brunch date, especially for those who like desserts. However, it doesn’t stay open very late, so unfortunately it’s of little use for intoxicated nightcrawlers. But the atmosphere and location are excellent and, since it’s French food, one feels content to dine slowly.

My mother put it best: “Now I don’t have to go to Paris. I can just go to Sparks.”