Suit your fancy
Sacramento, CA 95814
The wine selection poses less of a problem. When I asked the chatty server behind the register about the options for whites, she rattled off the varietal names of the three possibilities. She also offered me a taste of the pinot grigio I picked—an unusual and pleasing bit of service. I asked if they offered tastes to everyone.
“We try to,” she replied in a Cali-speak voice with a severe case of interrogative inflection, “because not everyone, like, gets it? Sometimes ladies come in and ask, ‘Why don’t you have any white zinfandel?’ And I’m like, uh, this is Crepeville. We’re kind of, you know, a fancy restaurant?”
Well, kind of. I’m not sure I’d describe any place where you order at a counter as “fancy,” but I liked her zeal and her attitude, not to mention the taste of the light, crisp wine—exactly what I wanted on a warm end-of-summer evening. All the staff we encountered at Crepeville seemed positively delighted to work there. It was a refreshing change of pace from the usual grumpy souls one finds behind a counter.
Our server, in particular, seemed to have appointed herself the guardian of Crepeville’s good name. She attended to her duties with the sort of zest and cheerfulness most restaurant workers reserve for collecting their paychecks. She steered us to the best deals and praised our choices with unwonted enthusiasm.
After reflection, I decided that designing my own dinner was more pressure than I could deal with. I opted for the basil crepe, stuffed with cheddar, onions, basil, tomato, spinach and feta. I wanted a half-salad, too, and our server suggested subbing it in for the potatoes that come with every entree. Adding the half-salad is a $1.95 surcharge—considerably less than getting the $4.50 half-salad on its own. And, lest you worry that skipping the potatoes will leave you hungry, never fear. The crepes here are full to bursting, and the half-salad was so large that I wondered where they could possibly source enough baby greens to make a whole salad.
Candied walnuts, paper-thin slices of sweet apple and chunks of bleu cheese made the salad a nice choice for fall. My husband thought it needed more dressing, but I just wanted a bit more flavor in the dressing that was there. I like salads dressed with a light hand and a strong vinaigrette.
My crepe wasn’t quite so oversized, but it was no lightweight, filled with tomato and flavorful wilted greens, plus lots of cheese. I thought the kitchen could have gone easier on the feta—even I found the dish a bit salty, and I’m a salt fiend—but the melty cheddar, which followed my fork in persistent strings, was oozy and yummy. The crepe itself was good enough to be worth building a restaurant concept around, as it should be. It was slightly more substantial than the crepes you might see at a street stall in France, but it was eggy and nicely browned.
I think I’d stick to the crepes if I went back, as my husband’s grilled eggplant sandwich with roasted peppers, pesto and provolone was less successful. It had a squishy, slightly oily texture and was curiously bland—a problem the pesto should have solved. He did get the potatoes alongside his sandwich, because my salad was more than big enough to share. They were classic home fries, well-browned but a bit sweet, as home fries made with red potatoes tend to be.
The potatoes indicate Crepeville’s flexibility: They’re really suitable for any meal. Many of the savory crepes, most of the sweet crepes and all the omelets are perfect for breakfast or brunch. Things work equally well for lunch or dinner, and in the evening, one has the pleasant feeling of bucking tradition by eating breakfast foods for dinner.
The dessert crepes would, however, make fairly over-the-top breakfasts—especially with the amounts of (unfortunately, canned) whipped cream that adorn most. I tried the brown-sugar crepe with lemon sauce. I hoped it would be like my favorite kind of French street-stall crepe, in which a hot crepe is sprinkled with sugar and a squeeze of lemon for a sweet, tart, sugar-gritty delicacy. Crepeville’s offering had the barely crunchy grains of brown sugar inside, but there was far too much of the viscous yellowy sauce, and it was not as fresh-tasting as most of the restaurant’s other offerings. My husband’s strawberry-chocolate crepe was better, oozing with molten chocolate and sweet berries.
The generally fresh and well-prepared food and the casual, friendly atmosphere are among the strengths of Crepeville. Open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, it makes a nice spot to drop in for anything from an espresso to a full-scale dinner. Just don’t ask for white zinfandel.