Creperie ennui

Should a new ordinance go into effect stating that all Sacramento residents must live no more than 10 minutes from an eatery offering crepes, we will all be in a good position to abide by the law. And now, Crepe Escape on Freeport Boulevard gives extra coverage to the somewhat underserved Land Park area of Sacramento. Oh, the agony of having to go all the way to Curtis Park for a crepe! Fear not: The suffering of Land Park is at an end, with the opening of the Crepeville look-alike. It’s really eerie, I have to say, how similar they are, from the reddish-brown wood on the walls to the whimsical and colorfully chalked-in menu boards to the casual order-at-the-counter vibe.

And, yeah, the crepes. Now, I grant you, one crepe looks much like another, but accompanying each with red-potato home fries, offering cross-cultural crepes overstuffed with things like pesto or salsa, and rounding out the menu with egg dishes and great big salads also seems to take a page from the Crepeville playbook. That, however, has proven to be a popular format in this area, so perhaps it’s not surprising that it would inspire other crepe-preneurs.

Crepe Escape’s location in an affluent (but not very restaurant-heavy) part of Land Park, and its all-day menu, both bode well for its chances of making it. I went on a Thursday night and it was buzzing with locals there for dinner. My friend and I each ordered a crepe; we thought about getting a side salad, but they’re all extremely large (big portions seem to be a signature), and we realized that you could get a salad or potatoes with your crepe, so we went with that.

It’s hard to decide among the various crepes, which mostly seem to have so many ingredients that for every appealing item in the filling, there’s also a less appealing one. I knew I didn’t want, say, the Aloha (cheddar, ham, pineapple, sweet-and-sour sauce) or the overly fusiony-sounding Tofu (with vegetables and peanut sauce)—and the Athena (cheddar, onions, artichokes, feta, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, olives, mint-yogurt sauce) sounded a little bit exhausting in its busy-ness. There are sandwiches and omelettes, many in the same overstuffed vein, as well.

We settled on Curry Chicken and Bodega Bay crepes, and ordered a dessert crepe up front, as well. Most of those have Nutella with some sort of fruit, but among the others the apple crepe (with cinnamon, brown sugar, and granola) sounded appealing, as did the Strawberry Blintz (ricotta, strawberry preserves, orange zest, sour cream, strawberry sauce). We tried the Strawberry Blintz crepe. It was overstuffed with ricotta mixed with a faint hint of strawberry jam, and it lacked the creamy, tangy-sweet richness of traditional blintzes. With a lot less filling and a lot more of the fresh-tasting strawberry sauce on top, it would have been better.

The Curry Chicken crepe was kind of mom-style, with gloopy but comforting bright-yellow curry sauce, dryish chunks of white-meat chicken, tender broccoli, and a lot of melty, stringy cheddar holding it all together. The crepe itself (folded into quarters) was hard to discern amid all the filling, but it was a serviceable wrapper. I wasn’t a big fan of the salad with a slight excess of sweetish sun-dried-tomato dressing; some of the leaves were wilted, and the dressing overpowered them anyway.

My friend’s Bodega Bay crepe included salmon, spinach, capers, artichoke, tomato, some lost-in-the-shuffle tarragon, and fontina cheese, with sun-dried-tomato pesto on top. This was more complex in flavor than the curry crepe, but it had so much going on that it stopped short of sophistication. The potatoes alongside were nicely cooked and crusty.

The well-browned, garlicky potatoes were also a hit on a visit for breakfast, but I was less enamored with the rest of the fare. The kids’ menu silver-dollar pancakes were oddly big (more like silver, I don’t know, doubloons) and a little gummy and undistinguished. I had a so-called Western Scramble, with chunks of chicken-apple sausage, mushrooms, and Jack cheese. (I guess the Jack made it Western.) It tasted OK, with the savory mushrooms adding depth, but a little went a long way; that was one heavy dish.

My husband’s Salsa Fresca crepe was my least favorite of all the items I tried, with a weird, harsh filling of olives, avocado, raw onion, partially melted cheese, and a bunch of sour cream and salsa on top. It needed a protein, I thought, to ground it all. They served up a good glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, though, and passable (though slightly bitter) coffee drinks.

Service was always friendly, and there was a nice neighborhood vibe at Crepe Escape. Maybe it’s just a little misnamed; I can’t see anyone escaping very far to go there, especially since it is riding the wake of Sacramento’s crepe trend. It seems, though, like a useful addition to its neighborhood—especially if a crepe-proximity ordinance ever becomes law.