By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
I have only one complaint with La Crêperie I wish it had a better bread (which tastes as if it's been frozen) and that it served sweet rather than salted butter with it.
Quite a few of La Crêperie's customers, it must be said, are older than God. Madame Retty a trim, energetic blond who, it turns out, is actually Canadian (her husband is Breton) tends to them with beatific patience and equanimity. Again and again, she recited the night's mouthwatering specials: moules farcies, baked brie with apples, shrimp Provençale, duck with strawberry sauce, tilapia almandine. And again and again, she got the same dull order: Vegetable soup. Quiche. Or a single entrée that she was obliged to cut up and dish out on two plates. That she did this with unfailing good humor, teasing her regular customers and chiding them about missing out on last week's chicken special, is testament to her saintliness and one reason La Crêperie has stayed in business through thick and thin. Madame's warmth is reflected in her staff, most of whom appear to be French or Canadian. They scurry around happily, chatting fluently in French and English. If you ever were tempted to classify French people as cold or snappish, this is a good place to dispel the myth.
We, of course, were not shy of appetite. We did have those moules farcies ($10.95), delicate little mussels baked in butter and garlic, sprinkled with parsley and breadcrumbs, radiating a divine heat. We had a steaming bowl of onion soup ($6.25), made with a good hearty beef stock and wine, topped with cheese that bubbled over and made a light, edible crust on the side of the pot. We had the aforementioned crepes. And we had, on two separate occasions, a roast chicken special ($18.95) in a rich brown mushroom sauce and the duck with strawberry sauce ($24.95), both served with julienned carrots, crisp French green beans, half a baked tomato dusted with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, and a couple of perfectly roasted potatoes. Both birds were moist and flavorful, but I recommend the duck particularly. You just don't get duck cooked this way in many American restaurants. The French handle a duck as if it were an everyday dish (as it is, indeed, at La Crêperie, where it offers a canard du jour). Duck is very rich, and it retains a wildness of flavor that our chickens have long since lost there's something of field and lake still embedded in that dark flesh. With its crisp, fatty skin and a fathomless brown sauce, dense with roast duck drippings and sweetened with strawberry fruit, it tastes original, exotic, and homey all at once.
Oooof! We can really put it away, can't we? We'd have to put off the trout and the frog legs for another visit. But we'd saved room for chocolate mousse ($5.25) and a profiterole with ice cream ($3.25). I'd take a pass on the mousse next time served in a parfait glass, it's foamy and light (I like my mousse thick enough to clog an artery), and it had that lingering flavor of something long refrigerated. We preferred the profiteroles, gorgeously presented on a square plate squiggled with chocolate sauce and dusted with cocoa: two jaunty vanilla ice cream and whipped-cream centers wearing pastry toques and drizzled with melted chocolate.
Nostalgia intact. These were the flavors I remembered.