Pillbox

Le Melon: Crepes Parisiennes is warm and inviting

Credit: Apeksha Atal/ Credit: Apeksha Atal/ Credit: Apeksha Atal/ Credit: Apeksha Atal/

I have always dreamt that one day I would have a local eatery where I would be able to greet the staff with an air of familiarity. I hoped to know the menu by heart and to be in a position where I could make recommendations with a sense of experience to back me up. I still haven’t reached the epitome of this aspiration, but if I had to pick a place that brings me the closest to it, that place would be Crepes Parisiennes.

During orientation 2014, like many freshmen, I found myself strolling along the lengths of South Craig Street day in and day out. Given its proximity to campus, I felt a need to familiarize myself with the various establishments positioned along the road, and before long I started planning out which restaurants to eat at on those weekends when I ran out of blocks. Crepes Parisiennes stood out to me mostly because I walked down to Craig from Fifth Avenue more often than not, and because of its simple facade with charming black tables positioned outside and a large glass window up front allowing passersby a glance within.

My roommate and I quickly set a date to try the place out, and it has since become our favorite brunch place, so, as you can imagine, I’ve tried my fair share of their dishes. Here are some that I find myself going back for:

Crepes:

The Smoked Icelandic Salmon: This is the first crepe I ever had there and it will always be my favorite. Perhaps it was the sense of entitlement I felt when asking for “Icelandic Salmon” (which I assume is superior to your everyday salmon) that lured me to this menu item, or perhaps the intrigue that arose with putting salmon in a crepe. Either way, I’ve never looked back. The crepe comes topped with creme fraiche and a salmon and chives filling. What’s beautiful about this crepe is the delicate nature of the crepe itself, and the simplicity of the dish as a whole. Like every crepe, the Smoked Icelandic Salmon crepe comes with a light salad (with some lovely mandarin orange wedges and a light garlic-infused olive oil dressing), and not much more. Because the filling is kept so simple, the strong flavor of the salmon really speaks for itself without being overwhelmed by accessory elements. It’s a classic.

The Breakfast Crepe: with sausage, egg, and cheese tastes just like it sounds. It’s a match made in heaven and is very filling, making it great for the meal its name alludes to. The flavor of the cheese was just sharp enough not to challenge the spice of the sausage, and the egg brings a nice volume to the dish.

The Mushroom and Cheese Crepe: is a great vegetarian option. It’s a classic savory crepe that stays true to the quality that the restaurant promises. Don’t be fooled by the name. Yes, it’s a very simple dish, but it’s a very simple dish done well.

On Sweet Crepes: I like to go with simple ones, just because a whole plate of sugar really overwhelms my palette. The White Forest Crepe with raspberries is light and comprised of well-balanced flavors. The intensity of the sweetness from the white chocolate filling is already brought down by the crepe itself, and the raspberries provide a nice level of acidity that cleanses the palette in between bites. I love this with walnuts and the fresh whipped cream that Crepes Parisiennes has to offer with their sweet crepes, and highly appreciate the fresh berries, and other berry items on the menu, that come with each dish. It’s nice to get a break from the canned berries doused in syrup that I’ve come in contact with around campus and at fast food establishments.

Some Non-Crepes:

Tuna, Olive Tapenade, and Tomato Panini: Crepes Parisiennes has four paninis on their menu, but this one is by far my favorite, mostly because of the complexity of the flavor interaction between the tuna and the olive tapenade. All in all, the panini has a rich Mediterranean feel to it, which I really appreciated.

Belgian Liege Waffles: The waffles here are unlike your typical waffles. The waffles themselves taste fresh, not just in terms of how warm and soft they are, but in terms of the batter used to make them. Instead of your typical blended-brand-frozen waffle flavor, I found that I could really taste the different components that went into the batter and feel the synergy that resulted from tasting all of them at once. It was a unique and rather enlightening experience. There are a few options to choose from, but I stay true to my love for white chocolate, so that’s the only one I’ve tried and tested.

Tea Babble:

Tea is one of my favorite things on this planet, and Crepes Parisiennes really helped me embrace my inner tea enthusiast. The restaurant offers a selection of 23 Mariage Fréres tea flavors, all of which I have had the pleasure to enjoy — during separate sittings, of course. There are five types of tea available, so I’ll go ahead and state my favorites and those that I thought stood out for each category:

Black Tea: Favorite: Ceylon — Orange Pekoe. Stand out: Emperor Chen-Nung — Smoky Blend. This last one is the most interesting tea that I’ve tried from those available at Crepes Parisiennes. The taste is as the name suggests: SMOKY, which is hard to describe. You really need to taste this to appreciate it.
Green Tea: Favorite: Casablanca. Stand out: Thé Sur le nil — perfumed with fruits. The accents of fruit play in this are lovely; it’s a really unique flavor for a green tea.

White Tea: There’s only one White Tea, the Blanc and Rose, and it’s very light and great for people who like the scent of tea, but not necessarily the intensity. Great with sweet or savory crepes. It’s lovely. The word lovely is lovely. Tea is lovely. Lovely.

Red Tea: Favorite: Rouge Bourbon. This is my favorite tea from this restaurant. Red tea has a beautiful rich flavor and aroma about it that goes perfectly with very meal I’ve had at Crepes Parisiennes. They also have a christmas version of this tea called “Noel” which has some classic holiday spices mixed in, and it’s divine.

Herbal Tea: Favorite: The Chamomille is organic, and my go-to calming tea. Stand out: The Dream Tea is a layered Herbal tea in terms of flavor. The flavor is unusual, but pleasant.

Heads Up:

Cha-ching: Until recently, Crepes Parisiennes only took cash, but now they take cards and that has made the lives of so many people better. You pay at the counter before you get your food and your order is served at your table.

Herbivores, Omnivores and Carnivores: This place is vegetarian friendly, carnivore friendly, and had lots of options on both ends of the spectrum. Because everything is made fresh, if you ask for a little modification with your order, the staff is usually happy to do it for you, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Are we there yet?: It’s right on South Craig Street, walking distance from campus. Take any of the inbound buses running down Fifth or Forbes if you’re near campus.
Click, click: Currently, there is no official website, but there are Yelp and Zomato pages that have been set up with reviews, critiques, menu items, and other information. Here they are:
http://www.yelp.com/biz/crepes-parisiennes-pittsburgh-2
https://www.zomato.com/pittsburgh/crepes-parisiennes-pittsburgh

For those stay-at-home days: There is no home delivery option, but the restaurant does offer take out.

Hours: Closed on Mondays
Tuesday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed on major holidays

21+: Crepes Parisiennes now offers a range of hard ciders that you can pick up for a meal or to go.

Rash Alert: Gluten, nuts, dairy, eggs, are the things I can think of off the top of my head. There are of course walnut-free options for the sweet crepes, and you can ask for some without creme fraiche or whipped cream. The staff is very accommodating, so be sure to ask when substitutes are available and to make sure what you’re order is clear of any allergic triggers.

Ambience: In a word: warm. The interior boasts some lovely aesthetic pieces such as brick walls, framed vintage photographs, some magazines, and a small eiffel tower by the windowsill. There are high tables and low tables, and the staff makes sure that tables are available for customers before they take their order. The kitchen is sectioned off from the rest of the restaurant by a thick counter with glass panes lining the top, so you can see into the kitchen and observe how they make the crepes.

College student friendly?: Of course, but I’ve seen pretty much every age group seated here at some time or another, so it’s a nice mixed bag of customers.

Shoutout: I’d like to insert a quick shout out to David, one of the wonderful people that works at Crepes Parisienne and makes this restaurant what it is. David has seen me maneuver my way through the list of teas, and made some of the most delicious crepes I’ve ever tasted. He’s the familiar face that I see every time I stop by and he’s always kind enough to give me a quick wave and ask me about my day. Thank you David for being so warm over the past two years, and to anyone who gets the chance to see him, tell him I said hey.

Overall rating: 4.5 melons