Crepes in Mtl?
I am so surprised not to find this discussed when I search on it: where do you like to go for crepes? We went to the Jean Talon place and I was a little surprised to find the ingredients so-so. Perhaps I was having an off day myself or my expectations were too high. And I'm sure 'crepes' are a touristy thing, but they're also kid-pleasers so please hounds, tell me: where do you like to take your pups (and visitors) for crepes in Mtl?
Thanks to the url provided by kpzoo I did check out one of the restaurants on the thread she linked to. It was the one mentioned by bewley on Ap 11 09, Café Croissant De Lune (CCdL): Address 1765 rue St-Denis. This poster mentioned several places but specifically discounted the fillings at Le Triskell and this is often my main beef with the crepes we get, so as CCdL was mentioned as a "favorite", we chose it to try.
It's located next to a prominently advertised "gentleman's club" on St Denis south of Sherbrooke a couple blocks. The blatant advertising of the nightclub far outshines our destination's rather artful, understated old-England-ish hanging pub-style sign. But when you focus just on that it's quite inviting. The entrance-way gets a lot of smokers hanging out there, at least the lingering evidence of their presence suggests as much. But the establishment itself has a double-door entryway so the smell doesn't really enter the restaurant, which was a concern for me.
I say 'restaurant', but it's actually a pub, and a really cute one at that. We were a large party -- of 8, so intending to all order crepes was going to be a difficult request. But first just seating us was potentially a challenge. When first we peeked in the place it was deserted but at least it looked as if it could accommodate us. By the time the troops all dislodged themselves from the car a couple parties of two had entered to warm the place and another person was sitting at the bar. While not frilly-cute, it was very friendly. Made all the more so by the waitress who could not possible have been more inviting. She was all sincere smiles and somehow conveyed the impression of quivering, intense interest in providing hospitality and ensuring our happiness. From the beginning even the the surroundings were not quite the quaint touristy-stuff I think our parties' matriarch was hoping for, and even if the crepes were less stellar than I was looking to find, our hostess was so obviously interested in our welfare, that it just was not going to matter. All restauranteurs should take a leaf from this ladies' book. I don't know quite how she managed to convey so much interest without being annoying or hovering, but she really made us feel *cared*-about.
The pub is in a basement and the old wooden bar looked very interesting; there was a wonderful old exposed stone wall toward the front, neither of which features I had the chance to inspect but looked very interesting and frankly, more "old Mtl" than it would have had the waitress been stuck into a bodiced costume (the matriarch's vision of 'creperie').
There was a not-extensive, but good-enough selection of savory and sweet crepes. Also was the option to have the crepe made with what the waitress said was a "grain" and I'm quite certain must have been buckwheat. I don't remember the french word that was on the menu, but what came out sure looked and tasted like buckwheat. It was delicious.
Several of us ordered savory crepes, many with buckwheat ($1 extra -- why??). The savory crepes included combinations of ham, egg, cheese (swiss only perhaps?), asparagus, mushrooms and béchamel sauce. Usually the combos were among the first three or the last three. That is, the menus listed these ingredients in various combinations, but some of us made up our own combinations and they had no problem accommodating the special requests. How we were charged for the novel combos I don't know, but the total bill was reasonable-enough ($115 for 8 ppl including tax, tip and 4 coffee drinks).
The ham they used was quite delicious, better, IMO, than that in the JTM's crepes (the only other place I've tried crepes in Mtl). The egg was a very thin veneer on the buckwheat batter and the ham was really very nice going with this combination. I enjoyed every bite. The crepe was perfectly formed, no thick or thin spots. Very good. I especially liked a co-diners asparagus and mushroom crepe with no sauce -- very tasty. The béchamel sauce was nice, but perhaps a little thick and voluminous in one crepe, that also may have suffered from a paucity of asparagus and mushrooms therein. But it would be hard to specify precisely the relative fillings and what was served was plenty good-enough. For my taste I might choose to receive excess calories in a desert crepe and not the béchamel! YMMV.
The desert crepes we did not sample extensively, I believe all that came to our table was caramel and apple. But that was very yummy, a nice combination and not too sweet. The apples were a little bit tart to balance the caramel, which was also not too thickly spread, so it all tasted delicious together. I don't know whether anyone ever sprinkles spices into crepes but thinking back on it, a little shake of cinnamon would have been lovely. The crepe was served with a dusting of powdered sugar but sugar + cinnamon .... mmm.
So ... we enjoyed CCdL very much. It was cozy, hospitable; they were able to accommodate 8 people all ordering crepes which is no mean feat. There was a bit of a wait while they generated all those pancakes, but that was of necessity and everyone was cheery about it. The wait staff was as kind as could be, and I enjoyed the limited but very tasty selection of crepes tremendously. I would definitely recommend the restaurant. How it compares to other more well-known Mtl creperies I don't know. There was a Juliette & Chocolate down the street which was more pricey and seemed to have a menu only slightly more extensive; I was not unhappy with our choice. As to how many stars to rank it, I'm not sure because I don't really have a Mtl star-chart comparison to make.
French fries: I forgot to mention those. One of our party ordered some and they were absolutely delicious. I know this is a city that values their french fries, smothered in grease though they may often be. We ordered ours al fresco and they were near-perfect. We ordered a second batch in fact. Yum. A teensy bit crispy, also chewy, skins on, not a hint of greasiness, lots of potato-flavor. Very excellent! And we were also located across the street from what I assume must be a french-fries chain called Frites Allors I think? So I'm guessing this tiny basement place slips in at least as good a performance as their more-famous neighboring specialists in crepes and french fries. But I really liked the sincerity of this place. Let me know if you enjoy it as much! I'm guessing it's a comfortable place to go for drinking beer, probably its major focus, as well.
Cafe Croissant De Lune (Le)
1765 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2X3K4, CA